ROBERT CALDWELL hit a fine double as Rhu chalked up a much-needed win over Cambusbarron in front of a big crowd at Ardenconnel Park on Saturday.

Caldwell’s brace, along with a Jamie Paterson penalty and a late goal from Drew McCann, saw Gordon Brodie’s men recover from a sluggish first-half display to record an eventually convincing 4-1 win thanks to three goals in the closing 10 minutes.

The long-standing friendship between the two clubs dates back to 1967, when Rhu won the first ever meeting between the teams on their way to lifting the Scottish Amateur Cup at Hampden – and it was once again the Rhu team who took the bragging rights, as well as the three points that cement their place in seventh in the First Division standings.

On a day of high emotions a minute’s silence was held before kick-off in memory of Nick Fish and former Rhu player Blair Fyfe, whose friends and family were among a bumper crowd – and with a big squad to choose from Brodie and his players were hoping to put on a show.

But, in the first half at least, it didn’t quite turn out that way – even though it was Rhu who took the lead after putting some early pressure on the Cambusbarron defence, with Caldwell showing great vision to lob the keeper from 20 yards for the opening goal.

Far from spurring the home players on to greater things, though, it was Cambusbarron who were inspired by the opening goal, and the Stirling side went on to dominate most of the opening 45 minutes, levelling midway through the half when substitute Ross Goodwillie poked home from close range.

And it could have been worse for Rhu if the visitors had made their first half dominance count in front of goal; as it was, Brodie and his coaching staff had some strong words for their players at half time, warning them that the first half performance hadn’t been up to standard and that improvement was essential in the second period.

The Rhu players took heed of the instructions and began to relax into their preferred style of play, but though the home team controlled long spells of the second half, they had to wait until the closing stages before regaining the advantage.

On 82 minutes, leading scorer Paterson stepped up to convert from the penalty spot after McCann was brought down inside the penalty area, and Rhu made the points safe three minutes from full time when Caldwell added his second.

There was still time, too, for the hosts to put the icing on their cake when McCann, who has appeared in the centre of midfield and as a stand-in goalkeeper in recent weeks, popped up at the other end with a cool finish to complete the afternoon’s work.

Brodie said afterwards: “This eventually turned into a decent performance and a result that was needed for the boys and the crowd that came to support us after a very tough few weeks off the park. 

“The club would once again like to send our condolences to Nick Fish and Blair Fyfe’s friends and families at this tough time.”

Sadly there would be no smiles at full-time for Rhu’s Saturday morning squad, whose recent run of good results came to a disappointing end after an abject performance away to Burnhill.

The visitors got off to the perfect start on the grass surface at Glasgow Green, with only 45 seconds on the clock when Lewis Thomson fired the ball into the net after receiving a nice through pass from George McConnell.

But that early advantage was short-lived, with Burnhill levelling just two minutes later.

The rest of the first half was very scrappy, with both teams struggling to control the ball on the uneven surface, but Burnhill always looked the more dangerous and it was no surprise when they took the lead just before half-time, some slack defending from Rhu allowing one of the hosts’ players to head home unchallenged at the far post from a pinpoint corner kick.

Despite the half-time instructions of the management team, Rhu struggled to get going at the start of the second half, and found themselves a further two goals adrift within five minutes of the restart.

Burnhill’s striker added his team’s fifth on 65 minutes to end the game as a contest, though to give Rhu’s players credit, they refused to let their heads drop and in the last 10 minutes managed to claw two goals back to give the final score some respectability, Thomson netting his second from the penalty spot before Jordan Molloy soared higher than everyone else to head home a Scullion corner in the final moments.

Squad: Lewis, Kjorstad, Black, Adams, Caldow, McConnell, Scullion, Livingstone, Campbell, Jones, Thomson, Young, Dawson, Shields, Molloy.

This weekend’s football action begins on Friday night when Rhu’s over-35s play their first home match of the new Football Central Region 5 campaign against Inchinnan.

Then on Saturday (April 6), Rhu’s Caledonian League squad hit the road with an away game against Stirling University. Kick-off is at 2pm.