GORDON BRODIE says Rhu Amateurs’ display in their final home match of the campaign gives his team a great foundation to build on for next season.

Ryan Jones bagged a second-half brace as the club’s Caledonian League side came from behind to dish out only a second defeat of the season to newly-crowned First Division champions Dunipace.

The result was made all the more impressive by the absence of no fewer than 10 players from Rhu’s own matchday squad – but the players who were available carried out their coaches’ game plan to perfection to gain some measure of revenge for their 7-0 defeat at Westfield Park when the sides last met at the end of November.

The new champions, who will play in the Caledonian League’s top flight next season, were given a guard of honour by their hosts to mark their title triumph.

And the home supporters might have feared the worst as the Stirlingshire outfit took an early lead following a defensive slip-up.

But that was as far as Rhu’s charity would go, with the defence digging deep to see out the first half before Jones’s double sealed a memorable win.

With only one league defeat on Dunipace’s record prior to Saturday, Rhu knew the task ahead was a big one – and they were made to pay for their slow start when they conceded an avoidable early goal to hand the visitors the advantage.

This settled Dunipace into the game, and they showed why they are deserved champions, creating numerous chances – but the Rhu defence was in no mood to give up further ground, and as the clock ticked towards half-time Rhu found a rhythm of their own and fashioned a few opportunities at the other end, though they still went into the break 1-0 down.

But the latter part of the first half had shown that Rhu were well capable of competing with their visitors, and Brodie’s men came out for the second half with a much more positive mindset; they soon began to dominate possession as well as showing a ruthlessness in defence to keep the visitors at bay.

And the home side’s growing influence on the game was rewarded with a quarter of an hour to go, following a sustained spell of pressure, when the returning Jones drew the sides level with a cool finish.

As the match entered the final 10 minutes it was Rhu who were dominating play and were in control of the game; the question was simply whether they could make that control count, or whether they would be hit on the counter by the ever-dangerous visitors.

And that question was answered in the best possible fashion from the home team; after some more tidy play, Robert Caldwell jinked his way into the box and had his heels clipped by a Dunipace defender for a clear penalty, with Jones demonstrating he had ice in his veins by sending the keeper the wrong way with an expertly-taken spot kick.

Jones was actually unlucky not to finish the game in style by completing a hat-trick in the final stages, though he and his team-mates could still be well pleased with their afternoon’s work.

Brodie said afterwards: “This was a massive result and all the more impressive considering the amount of players missing and the last-minute shuffling of the pack.

“The boys carried out their instructions to the letter and can be extremely proud of a result which gives us a solid foundation to build on.”

With no more home matches until the new season begins, Brodie also had a direct message for the supporters who have given the team their backing in large numbers throughout the campaign.

He added: “Thanks once again for your support. It's been incredible to see so many people down supporting us at Ardenconnel this season and we can't wait to welcome you all back next year.” 

Rhu’s home fixtures may be over for another season, but the campaign isn’t over quite yet for Brodie’s men, who are back in action this Friday, May 10, against Stenhousemuir Community FC, looking to avenge a 3-2 League Cup defeat when the two teams last met in January.

Kick-off at Ochilview Park is at 7.30pm.

Elsewhere at the weekend, Rhu’s Glasgow Colleges FA squad lost 4-1 away to Rosebank United on Saturday morning, while the club’s over-35s fell to a chastening 6-1 defeat against Glasgow on the Ball at Hermitage Academy on Friday night.

Rhu’s GCFA side, like their Caledonian League clubmates, switch to Friday night action this week when they host Cambuslang FA on May 10 (KO 7pm).

Rhu’s over-35s have a free week before returning to action on Friday, May 17 away to Milngavie.