Preston Athletic boss Craig Nisbet insisted his players didn’t deserve to be on the end of a heavy defeat to top-of-the-table East Kilbride on Saturday.
he Panners shipped five goals to the South Lanarkshire visitors without reply in what was their second consecutive 5-0 loss having went down by the same scoreline to Cumbernauld Colts 12 days ago.
However, Nisbet, who is now eight months into the job, felt his side more than matched their opponents for long spells at the Pennypit with his players feeling the brunt of some rash decisions.
Greg Douglas thought he’d given Preston the lead, only for his half-volley to be ruled out for offside by the linesman on the far side. And, with their subsequent appeals falling on deaf ears, their dejection was compounded just two minutes later when Ross Cowan scythed down Adam Strachan, giving Joao Victoria the opportunity from 12 yards.
The striker’s effort was thwarted by No.1 Bruce Callan, only for Victoria to be afforded a second chance when a player in blue was deemed to have encroached the area.
Victoria duly converted at the second attempt to give the visitors an 18th minute lead that left Nisbet less than complimentary.
“You kind of need the rub of the green don’t you? If we’d taken the lead with that shot, is it offside? I don’t think so,” he said. “The linesman has made his decision so you can’t argue with it. Then, literally two minutes later they get the penalty and then they get the retake. You see it week in, week out players going into the box but it’s picked up here. You just need that level of consistency.
“Five-nil makes it sound like we’ve taken a bit of a pumping, but it wasn’t. If we hadn’t lost the second goal on the stroke of half-time then the game takes on a completely different complexion. We know we can compete with East Kilbride, which means we can compete with any team in the division. I don’t think they are as good as they think they are and won’t be runaway winners as they don’t have the same about them as Edinburgh City did last year.”
Frazer Henderson’s shot on the turn had Kilby No.1 Matthew McGinley scrambling across his line as the hosts chased an equaliser before Martin McBride, who proved a menace all afternoon, brought out a smart stop from Callan.
Callan denied Ross McNeil’s close-range effort but the Preston keeper was left rooted to the spot as McBride’s powerful surge from midfield almost brought a second as his effort came crashing back off the crossbar.
Kilby did deliver a sucker punch right on the stroke of halftime, however. Former Livingston midfielder Kieran Gibbons’ pass found McNeil in space and the frontman expertly clipped the ball in off the far post.
Too often the home side’s pass in the final third proved their downfall and they were punished again midway through the second half when McNeil notched his second following McBride’s corner from the right.
Kilby, who have yet to concede in the league this season, added a fourth just two minutes later when Strachan weaved his way across the Preston 18-yard box before sending an unstoppable effort into Callan’s top left corner.
The visitors’ creativity was cranked up a notch for their fifth of the afternoon when McNeil’s pass was cleverly left by Gibbons and McBride capitalised sending a swerving shot beyond Callan and into the corner.
Preston Athletic: Callan, Cowan, Cochrane, Wilson, McLeod, Barclay, Stevenson (Jardine 68), Colquhoun, Park (Lawson 82), Henderson (Erskine 70), Douglas. Subs: Pennycuick, Innes, Rogers, Glen.
East Kilbride: McGinley, Capuano, Russell, Howie (Coll 73), Brough, Gibbons, Strachan, McBride, McNeil, Marenghi (Millar 55), Victoria (Osadolor 77). Subs: Kean, Stevenson, Lachlan, McKenna.