THESE are testing times at Beechwood Park and Fraser Duncan called it right on his very first day when he said Sauchie are stuck in the relegation mire.

It's going to be a slog right until the bitter end and Saturday's defeat to Premier Division surprise package Camelon did little to boost their lowly position.

A couple of individual performances – especially from Craig Donaldson – against the league's second-placed side offered the Wee County faithful who braved the short trip across the water reason to believe they can still get out of this mess.

But, they also didn't learn anything they didn't already know and it couldn't have been clearer that their chances of survival depend on finding a proven goalscorer before it's too late.

How Duncan and Davie Beaton must have wished they had someone with the prowess of Alan Docherty to lead the line.

Stevie Dolan and David McCaughie can never be faulted for their effort, but both were guilty of missing big chances on a day where one of the league's leading marksmen took his.

He opened the scoring at Carmuirs Park when he took advantage of slack Sauchie defending to ghost in behind Stewart Houston, drive into the box and fire into the net at Darren Dolan's front post.

It was a sublime finish in Camelon's first chance of the match and had the Reds had Docherty to lead their line things could have turned out very differently.

Instead, they were made to rue a host of chances missed by their forwards as Gordon Herd's side took full advantage to leave the Reds languishing over the relegation trapdoor.

However, the 3-1 scoreline was rather flattering to the home side, in a game in which Sauchie played well in parts.

Docherty's opener was particularly sickening not just because it gave Camelon the lead but because it came just seconds after McCaughie flashed a header over Dean Shaw's crossbar from Simon White's inch-perfect cross.

It felt like a huge moment at the time and the hosts promptly pumped the ball up the other end and showed how it should be done.

As glaring as McCaughie's chance was, it wasn't even Sauchie's best opening of the half.

This came just two minutes into the contest and again McCaughie was at the heart of things when he latched onto Ant McTaggart's lovely ball in behind Camelon's rearguard, held off the advances of a defender, and found Stevie Dolan.

But, rather than supplying a first-time finish, McCaughie's partner in crime dallied and gave the hosts the chance they needed to regroup and clear the danger.

Darren Cummings was especially frustrated on the Sauchie bench and you couldn't help but think the club veteran would have put that one away.

Perhaps Cummings' frustration was born out of his fear that missed chances would come back to haunt his Reds and they duly did when Docherty needed no second invitation to open the scoring.

Sauchie actually played some nice stuff in the first-half and looked the side in the ascendancy for large parts of the play. But, they still found themselves 2-0 down at the break. While Docherty had shown class to finish the first, the second was all their own doing.

Darren Dolan and Houston never looked convincing as Camelon launched the ball towards the box. The keeper eventually scrambled it clear for a throw-in and that should have been that, but Sauchie contrived to hand their hosts a second bite of the cherry as the ball was fired into the roof of the net.

We'll never know exactly what was said behind closed doors at half-time. But, whatever words Duncan used to rouse his Sauchie troops clearly had their desired effect.

They played with much more vigour for large parts of the second-half as they pressed higher, passed better, and ran further than they had in the opening 45. A change back to a more traditional 4-4-2 from the 3-4-1-2 deployed in the first-half seemed to help. And, for a while, the comeback looked on when Donaldson slotted past Shaw after good work from McCaughie to drag the Reds back in the contest.

Sauchie were on top as the game grew increasingly ragged. Stevie Dolan was unlucky not to get the break of the ball when he nipped it off Shaw's toes and Jon Tully almost produced a remarkable overhead kick to level matters.

But, again, McCaughie was the unfortunate man to miss a gilt edged chance – when he fired wide after escaping the clutches of a Camelon defender – only to watch the hosts go up the other end and score in the next attack.

Darren Dolan was ill advised to come for a corner amid a sea of bodies and he duly failed to connect with his punch as a Camelon man headed home the killer third to end thoughts of a third comeback in four games.

Suddenly, Blackburn United at home on December 7 looks like it could be do-or-die if Sauchie are to escape the clutches of relegation.

SAUCHIE: D Dolan, Houston, Dawson, Tully, Wright, McTaggart, Donaldson, McGregor (Mooney 63), S Dolan, McCaughie (Langton, 78), White (Comrie, 74). UNUSED SUBS: Young, Sharp, McKeown, Finlayson