Not very often, if ever, have Keanie Park’s terracing onlookers headed home with broad smiles creasing their faces after taking in a drab 0-0 stalemate.

Yet such was the very state of affairs on Saturday when the sheer delight felt by supporters of Johnstone Burgh and Rob Roy at having an early opportunity to watch their respective sides in playing action for the first time in well over a year helped in no small way to overshadow the paucity of what was offered up as entertainment.

That may be overstating it, considering most of the combatants had not crossed a white line in the past six months - even longer for some - and take it from someone who knows: pre-season friendlies, particularly the first one or two, are when rustiness shows up most.

But making allowances for a lack of pattern to play and engines being less than fully tuned-up should not prevent spectators expecting those same players to come out of their Covid-19 prolonged hibernation with guns blazing and a renewed hunger for the fray.

Such a contest just didn’t materialise even though the battle for midfield dominance between Burgh skipper Malcolm McDonald and opposition  counterpart Ian Gold produced more than a few enthralling exchanges.

The home team’s vastly experienced striker Paul “Tiny” Stewart caught the eye in winning a number of aerial jousts against the considerably taller Rabs defensive debutant Aaron Ross.

Burgh’s clean sheet was built on the twin pillars of centre-backs Kerr Watson and Danny McBeth as well as never-say-die full-back Jason Andrew, so there was plenty for team boss Jamie McKim to reflect on with satisfaction when speaking at the final whistle.

He said: "Never a classic but the fact we held our own from going head to head against a Premier Division side is pleasing in itself.

“Ours is a club where splashing out transfer fees to improve the team is a no-no. Instead we focus on unearthing and developing young talents  so the showings from the likes of McDonald, Mark McIlvanney and Nathan Findlay is a sign we are getting more right than wrong.

“And we’ll get better as a team once the guys get a few more games under their belts and myself and Dave Hill get the chance to work with what is our eventual core of players.

“That may be easier said than done though when you think we made eight half-time substitutions today and probably edged things second half.”

Matters might have panned out differently had Rob Roy midfielder Robbie Leighton’s well struck free-kick found the net in 23 minutes instead of Burgh keeper Stuart Collins superbly touching the ball over, or if Leighton hadn’t wastefully headed wide of target after being picked out by a Sean McMonagle cross.

The visitors almost paid for those missed opportunities right on the stroke of half-time when Stewart out-muscled Rob Roy full back Scott Walker to fire a powerful shot wide of the near post.

Both sides rang the changes during the interval break but defences continued to dominate. The nearest either side came to breaking the deadlock arrived over the closing stages when firstly Rabs shot stopper Craig Burns dived full length to beat away a shot from Burgh’s Cameron McNeil which had the front man and several team mates claiming was over the line.

At the other end, McMonagle was put clean through on goal, cutting in from the left, only for his parting shot to hit the advancing goalkeeper’s feet and deflect away to safety.

Rob Roy gaffer Stewart Maxwell said: "The performance today showed  exactly why we needed this run-out.

“We gave the ball away needlessly, were slack defensively at times and very guilty of choosing the wrong option whenever we found ourselves in forward going areas.

“Today was way below the standards we have set ourselves and shows we are not ready for the season kicking off in earnest - not even close, if truth be told. There’s a lot of hard work needed on the training ground over the coming weeks .

“The one crumb of comfort is our shortcomings are being laid bare now rather than when it counts.”

Johnstone Burgh had planned to be back in friendly action on Wednesday night when hosting the visit of Ashfield but Level 3 restrictions preventing the Possil outfit from travelling have led to the game being cancelled.

The only known playing action going ahead is at Dunterlie where Arthurlie take on their own Under 19’s side (kick-off 6.30pm).