Whitehill Welfare boss Steven Hislop has made a desperate appeal for a goalscorer to come in and fill the role after watching his side crash to a 3-0 defeat in their Lowland League opener with big spending East Kilbride.
The Ferguson Park side put in a workmanlike shift against their South Lanarkshire opponents but were found wanting in and around the penalty box despite some neat build-up play.
Anthony Marenghi’s stunning first-half volley separated the teams at the interval before substitute Gavin Millar and captain Sean Winter sealed the points for the visitors late on with two clinical finishes.
The hosts, on the other hand, rarely tested Matt McGinley in the Kilby goal despite John Williams coming within inches of an equaliser as his close-range shot cannoned off the crossbar.
But, with main striker Scott Gormley absent with a back problem, former Livingston and Raith Rovers frontman Hislop revealed he is searching high and low for an able deputy.
“If anyone can tell me there’s an available striker out there who’s good enough then let me know. I’m on Facebook, Twitter and I’ll quite easily give my phone number so please get in contact,” the Whitehill boss said. “It’s certainly not from the want of trying that we haven’t got somebody in.
“I don’t really want to go down the loan route but if it needs be then so be it. Scott Gormley is out injured with his back and that is a problem. The guys are trying to tell me to play and I am thinking about it but it shouldn’t have to come to that.”
Hislop believes Kilby striker Joao Victoria should have been red carded for an off-the-ball incident just minutes into the second half and was fortunate his actions went unpunished.
“They were naughty. There was an incident off the ball in the second half and their player shouldn’t have remained on the park,” Hislop said. “There were a couple of tough challenges from my guys too but that’s football. I know there were some of my players who could have bitten but they kept their discipline well.
“We didn’t do enough to win the game but I don’t think they were a great deal better than us. We were a couple of inches getting back level hitting the crossbar. But I didn’t go into the dressing room after and blow my top because I couldn’t. In certain positions we need more but all we can do is learn from it. We’ve got good guys in there.”
Adam Strachan had the game’s first opportunity as early as the eighth minute but his shot lacked any conviction to trouble Whitehill No.1 Bryan Young who gathered with ease.
Nevertheless, Kilby were ahead just minutes later and this time Young was left stranded as Marenghi showed great agility to angle a dipping volley into the top right corner.
The goalscorer, however, then scythed down Kevin Keane to leave Connor McGregor eyeing up the opportunity to draw his side level from 20 yards. And, the midfielder came within a couple of feet of doing just that as his deflected shot had McGinley scrambling across his goalline.
Tempers frayed four minutes after the interval when Whitehill defender Nikki Murray clattered into the back of Ross McNeil right in front of the visiting dugout. A melee ensued between players and coaches alike before referee Gavin Ross eventually restored calm on the field.
Portuguese striker Victoria should have been given his marching orders for a blatant shoulder barge on McGregor off the ball that was somehow missed by the officials.
Williams missed a gilt-edged chance when he connected with Steven Manson’s corner on the hour mark and he came even closer moments later with an effort that hit the crossbar.
Keane’s volley then brought out a smart stop from McGinley as the home side sought-out an equaliser.
But Millar put paid to any hopes of Whitehill salvaging a point as he finished well after being played in by Marenghi, and Winter added a third right at the death after collecting a pass from former Livingston midfielder Kieran Gibbons before cleverly dinking the ball over the advanced Young.
Whitehill Welfare: Young, Moffat, O’Hara, Murray, Williams, McGregor (Brydon 63), Manson, Martin (Trialist 81), Keane, Osborne, Moffat (Connolly 63). Subs: Hislop, Arthur, Trialist.
East Kilbride: McGinley, Capuano, Coll, Proctor, Stevenson, Gibbons, Winter, Strachan (Millar 77), McNeil, Marenghi, Victoria.