Alert Waterston secures victory
A fifty-sixth-minute goal from Nathan Waterston settled this closely fought encounter in the Raydale Cup at Gretna as Reds positive start to pre-season continued.
It was a performance full of character, on a hot, sunny afternoon, and accomplished with a squad short of several key players.
They had to show great resilience for the opening twenty minutes or so but, once they repelled Annan’s early onslaught, the confidence was such that they managed the game effectively and efficiently.
Although Reds had the first shot on target, thanks to Conor Tinnion’s second-minute effort which Ally Mitchell gathered comfortably, it was Annan who dominated the early exchanges.
Daniel Orsi was thwarted by an Aaran Taylor save and a brave Matty Douglas block prevented Ryan Stevenson from opening the scoring.
Stevenson’s driven cross from the right then evaded two yellow shirts in the middle and Peter Murphy’s hooked volley narrowly missed the target.
But Reds survived the early pressure and gradually got a foothold in the game.
David Symington’s curling cross from the right drifted just wide, much to the relief of the out-of-position Mitchell, and Jack Ryan appeared to be impeded as he attempted to get on the end of a Sam Joel assist.
A Tinnion free-kick just missed the target as Reds ended the half strongly.
Their best spell, offensively, came at the start of the second half but three good chances were squandered.
Nathan Waterston was given a clear run on goal when Raff Krissian lost his footing but he blasted his shot wide at the near post. Joel then broke through the inside left channel only to be thwarted by a fine Mitchell save.
And Mitchell was again called upon to deny Waterston with an even better stop but, having kept Annan in the game, was probably at fault for the match-deciding goal.
Joel had been needlessly tripped just outside the area and Symington’s well struck free kick was fumbled by Mitchell. The alert Waterston reacted first and followed up to guide the ball home from close range.
Annan briefly responded but, other than two Aidan Smith attempts which missed the target, rarely looked like finding an equaliser which would have meant a penalty shoot-out decider.
Reds closed out the game without too much fuss and did so with ten men when Josh Calvert was hit in the face by a flailing elbow and retired early.
Taylor, a well marshalled back four and the outstanding Anthony Wright paved the way for this very satisfactory victory against a group of talented individuals who have not yet, on the evidence of this performance, gelled as a team.
Team: Taylor, Simpson (Henderson, 71), Mellen, Wordsworth, Douglas, Earl (Calvert, 46), Symington, Wright (Heap, 73), Ryan (Waterston, 46), Joel, Tinnion (Carter, 71).