The home side were looking to continue their perfect league start but came up against stubborn opponents to deny them all three points this torrid clash at Kilwinning Sports Club. Both sides exchanged four goals in a frantic opening 10 minutes, before the game settled down to relative normality.
Rangers will still wonder what might have been had the woodwork not come to Glenburn’s rescue late on the second half. For the visitors it was a valuable hard fought away point against hosts who stretched them to the very limit.
Kilwinning began confidently, and had soon made the perfect start through Shaun Murtagh’s early opener. Glenburn though set the pattern for the game with Marco Pieroni’s instant equaliser the first of a goal brace for the wing back.
It was a breathless opening, and in such a tightly congested midfield set pieces would prove vital in creating breakthroughs and opportunities. And so it proved as Rangers went back in front with just five minutes on the clock. A free kick was played into the box and Murtagh’s volley rebounded off the far post of Glenburn keeper Craig Speirs, but Kris Mason was first on hand to jab home the opener from close range.
Kilwinning hoped this would re-establish their grip on this game but the visitors were having none of it, going straight up field to grab the goal of the game. Ross Black went on a run down the left channel of midfield, and from nigh on halfway, fired off a speculative long range shot which flew past George Scott in the home goal.
Rangers were building a lot of moves down the left side, with Ryan Beveridge getting into good areas providing the ammo for Murtagh and Mason. The home side should have been back in front after 15 minutes, as Christopher Wilson had space and time down the left side of the Glenburn box, but could only shoot straight at the legs of Speirs.
And they were made to pay as Glenburn took the lead on 20 minutes. A hotly debated free kick was awarded for a foul just outside the Kilwinning box, and the referee waved away the protests. Pieroni stepped duly stepped up to curl a shot past Scott to give the visitors the lead. Click here to watch Pieroni's goal (via Facebook).
Kilwinning were spurred on with a sense of grievance as they sought to level the game before half time, pushing up and pegging their opponents back in their own half. Wilson snatched another chance straight at Speirs on 36 minutes, but it would take another set piece to undo a well organised Glenburn back line.
This time the delivery came from the right, as a Rangers corner was swung into the box, and with the visitors struggling to clear their lines, Paul Millar leapt highest to nod Kilwinning level after 40 minutes.
The league leaders went into the break on top, hoping to build their momentum into the second period. Glenburn meanwhile had hung on, marking up well and soaking up the Kilwinning pressure. It was a compelling game and in the balance.