AS and when Arthurlie are confirmed as the Conference League A Division champions, Andy McFadyen and his playing charges will unquestionably look back on Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Shotts Bon Accord as a landmark moment in their march to the title.

The second in the standings Barrhead side had come into the crunch Dunterlie head to head with a yawning five points gap separating them and their tabletopping opponents however after the dust had settled on a hard fought and often feisty contest, the Shotts lead had been reduced to just the two points that Arthurlie’s three games in hand advantage will surely overcome.

It was not one of the Lie’s more memorable performances, bereft as it was of the panache associated with McFadyen’s men throughout this season, but the importance of this anything but unlucky 13th league win from 14 starts was clearly evident from the joyous celebration noises emanating from the home team dressing room afterwards.

Amid all the ongoing clamour, Arthurlie No 2 Craig Palmer gave his take on the key match events,most notably the hotly disputed second half penalty kick decision in his team’s favour by whistler Steven Mackay.

He said: “The Shotts people are feeling hard done by but not as much as our dugout was just minutes earlier when Dale Simeone was clean through on their goal only to be brought down by their goalkeeper Johnny Murdoch.

“It was an absolute  stonewaller yet not given by the Ref as  he reckoned  Dale was not in control of the ball but that was only because Murdoch cleaned him out.

“To then be awarded a penalty is a case of the breaks evening themselves out and we’ll happily take our rub of the green.

The one time Arthurlie defender added: “The players showed another side to themselves by rolling up the sleeves  to win what was a real war of attrition out there today and nobody epitomised our battling spirit more than Jordan Leyden who gave us everything in his tank.

“He and the rest of the guys earned the right to celebrate loudly but nobody is getting carried away in thinking it’s a case of job done because it’s anything but as there’s a whole heap of football yet to be played before any prizes will be dished out.

“We’ve come out on top in what was a massive game for us and taken another step towards achieving our aims…nothing more.”

Arthurlie were quick to raise a head of steam and their dominance of the early exchanges was rewarded just ten minutes in when a fairly innocuous low cross by  Tam McGaughey was fumbled by Murdoch against the shins of the onrushing Gary Carroll and deflected over the line for 1-0.

The confidence lift from this early breakthrough was all too palpable and the  home side’s continuing to  rule the roost almost resulted in another score as McGaughey smashed a fierce shot against the crossbar prior to Murdoch atoning for his earlier gaffe with a diving save to parry away a Simeone netbound drive.

The visitors had barely existed as an attacking force  over the opening period but showing much  more conviction in the final third approaching half time brought a plethora  of corner kicks , one of which sparked an untidy melee and resulted in centreback Scott Faulds pouncing on a loose ball to equalise with a low shot from 15 yards.

Going in at level pegging must have felt unfair to any Arthurlie minded onlookers and their discontent would have been further stoked by Shotts defender Craig Crawford getting back to avert a certain goal shortly after the restart when Simeone ’s parting shot, a split second before he was upended by the advancing Murdoch, was about to cross the line.

Shotts could not have complained if they had gone behind but that was certainly not the case in 57 minutes after their concerted and vehement claims that McGaughey had “taken a dive ” from a Martin Shiels challenge could not dissuade Referee Mackay from pointing to the spot.

Dealing with furious Shotts players meant an angry coming together of  Faulds and the home team’s Gary Carroll  went  largely unnoticed by the man in the middle though he still found cause to yellow card both players and the Arthurlie striker made the most of his good fortune by netting the penalty kick with no little aplomb, tucking the ball in the  corner of the net and sending Murdoch the wrong way.

Shotts hitman Danny Burns came close to levelling matters when pulling a 68th minute shot just wide of target but this was one of the precious few moments when Arthurlie’s 2-1 lead looked in any danger and they saw out the closing stages in relative comfort.

Indeed they came close to extending their slim advantage when the busy Simeon burst clear to cleverly scoop the ball over Murdoch only for his effort to drift inches wide.

Losing gaffer John McKeown’s displeasure over his side’s display and that of Referee Mackay was clearly evident when he spoke afterwards.

Ruggy insisted: “We gave Arthurlie too much respect early on and weren’t really in the game for the opening half hour and then half time comes too quick when we are the ones on the ascendancy.

“We spoke to the guys during the interval about the need to stay organised and in the game but then the Referee makes a quite diabolical call for a penalty kick that never was.

“He has only given it because of the uproar over the earlier incident with Simeone but two wrongs don’t make a right and McGaughey has gone down  over Martin’s leg even though there has been no attempt to tackle him.

“The penalty kick knocked the wind out of our sails and was a gamechanger insofar as we never recovered our focus from that point onwards which itself is disappointing.” 

Third placed C Division hopefuls Whitletts Vics boosted their promotion dreams with a resounding 12-0 thrashing of Saltcoats Vics (Jordan Boyd top scored with a hat trick) aided and abetted by fourth in the table Maybole succumbing to a shock 3-0 defeat away to Forth Wanderers.

James Coffey (2), Scott Matheson, Alan McFadden and Ross Merchant did the scoring damage in Lesmahagow’s 5-1 defeat of Bellshill Athletic , for whom Dylan Corrigan bagged a consolation score while Steven Tan and Kevin Adam notched braces along with counters from Grant Kirkwood and Ross McIvor in Craigmark’s 6-2 win over Glasgow University whose own Johnny Baxter was a double marksman.

Elsewhere in the Conference Leagues, leading B Division pair Cambuslang Rangers and St Cadocs chalked up  key victories with the Lang besting Ashfield by a 3-0 scoreline at Saracen Park thanks to Scott Anson, John Gemmell and an own goal while St Cadocs ran out 4-2 McKenna Park winners over Dalry Thistle with Aaron Miller(2), Tony McParland and Mark Miller on target.

Petershill extended their winning run to go third top  in C Division after Ronan Sweeney and Craig Quinn(2) goals brought an emphatic 3-0 victory over Kilsyth Rangers though the Peasy still have ground to make up on second placed Neilston after Conor Bulger, Dylan Fletcher, Olly Smith, Darren Jones and Darren Kennedy were all on the mark to help the Farmers Boys best Vale of Leven by a 5-1 Millburn Park scoreline.

RESULTS: PDM Buildbase Premier League. Kilwinning Rangers 4 Rossvale 1, Largs Thistle 3 Hurlford Utd 3, Bonnyton Thistle 3 Blantyre Vics 0, Irvine Meadow 1 Auchinleck Talbot 5,  Rutherglen Glencairn 1 Troon 2, Glenafton 1 Kilbirnie Ladeside 2, Benburb 3 Pollok 3, Beith 5 Rob Roy 0, Cumbernauld Utd 2 Darvel  3, Cumnock 0 Clydebank 2.PDM Buildbase Conference League A. Saltcoats Vics 0 Whitletts Vics 12, Forth Wanderers 3 Maybole 0, Craigmark 6  Glasgow University 2, Lesmahagow 5 Bellshill Athletic 1, Girvan 3  Irvine Vics 2, Arthurlie 2 Shotts Bon Accord 1, Muirkirk 1 Lugar Boswell 2. PDM Buildbase Conference League B. Greenock 4 Carluke Rovers 2, Thorniewood Utd 11 Newmains Utd 0, Glasgow Utd 5 Royal Albert 1, St Cadocs 4  Dalry Thistle 2,Ashfield 0 Cambuslang Rangers 3, Port Glasgow 4 Ardeer Thistle 2, Kello Rovers 1 Renfrew 1. PDM Buildbase Conference League C. Ardrossan Winton Rovers 0 Vale of Clyde 2, Petershill 3 Kilsyth Rangers 0, Glasgow Perthshire 1  St Anthonys 2, Vale of Leven 1  Neilston 6,Wishaw 3 Lanark Utd3, Yoker Athletic 3 Larkhall Thistle 2.PDM Buildbase Division Four. Harmony Row 0 B.S.C. Glasgow 2, Kilsyth Athletic 3 Campbeltown Pupils 3, Finnart 1  Glenvale 2, St Peters 3 Harthill Royal 1.