SAUCHIE JUNIORS’ purple patch came to an end on Saturday in a 5-2 defeat to Crossgates.

The Wee County side had been enjoying a winning streak and would have went into the match full of confidence they could close the gap on their rivals, who sat four points ahead of them in the table at kick off.

However, conceding four goals in the first half gave Sauchie an incredible mountain to climb and when the visitors added a fifth in the second half any slight hope of taking something from the match disappeared.

Within minutes the ball had found the back of a net. Unfortunately for the Beechwood faithful, it was the visitors who took the lead. Cammy Muirhead picked the ball up on the right wing and cut inside before blasting a shot towards goal. Chic Bell managed to get a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.

After a frantic start to the match, Sauchie finally got a hold of the tempo and started to pass the ball. A great move saw Danny Smith almost through on goal before he was cynically chopped down. 18-year-old Kris Kelly’s through ball was dummied by Connor Kelly and Smith was through before being fouled. Stepping up to hit the free-kick, he drilled it to the keeper’s right but he was equal to it and make the block.

Fortunately for the home side, the equaliser wasn’t far away. Once again it came from the two Kellys linking up, with Kris Kelly’s cross aimed for his namesake headed into his own net by Crossgates’ Andy McDonald.

After levelling the score, Sauchie pushed for more goals, however, this push was to be their undoing. Kris Kelly’s attempted cross took a wicked deflection and looped over everyone into Sauchie’s own half, leaving Ant McTaggart two on one. The ball was squared to Scott Lawrie who hit the target and found the net despite McTaggart’s attempted block.

“We’re one on one at the back with Ant,” manager Fraser Duncan said. “We shouldn’t be one on one, that should all be fixed, but that’s partly Ant to blame, he should be saying get somebody else back and the rest of the team should be doing that as well.”

Despite going a goal behind, Sauchie continued to play and on another day could have scored. A marauding run by centre-back Scott Davidson saw him through on goal but his shot was poor and the keeper saved easily.

Once again, from a position of strength, Sauchie would concede. From Davidson’s shot, a corner was played straight into the hands of Crossgates keeper Shaun Hunter. Crossgates then made their way up the pitch before a pass was played towards Mark McKenzie. Stirling Albion loanee Will Greenhorn gambled and attempted to intercept the pass, however, he couldn’t make it and McKenzie controlled before slotting the ball past Bell.

With just seven minutes to go between the goal and half-time, Sauchie had to make it to the interval two goals behind to give themselves a chance of mounting a comeback. However, seconds before the half-time whistle, the visitors added a crushing fourth. Finn Graham somehow escaped from two or three Sauchie bodies and made his way into the box and then crossed low for Cammy Muirhead to slot into an empty net.

Fraser Duncan made some changes at half time with both Brian Morgan and Iain Syme coming on. Morgan almost made an immediate impact, with back-to-back free-kicks forcing Hunter to make two brilliant saves.

However, Crossgates would add a fifth shortly after the game restarted and put the tie to bed. Bell could only punch a corner back into the box and captain Scott Lawrie smashed the ball into the net.

Later in the match another Morgan free-kick hit the arm of a man in Crossgates’ wall and the referee gave Sauchie a penalty. David Cross’ effort was saved well by Hunter, however, Jack Docherty pounced on the rebound to score a consolation.

Unfortunately for Sauchie the visitors were clinical in front of goal while Sauchie couldn’t make the most of their many chances.

A double-header against Dunipace now awaits Duncan’s men with an away trip in the Challenge Cup before welcoming them to Beechwood in the Scottish Cup.

“I think we’ve been caught short," Duncan said post-match. "We’ve been on a wee bit of a run and we’ve been doing well and we go into this game [on Saturday] probably thinking we’re going to cruise it and get the three points. It doesn’t work like that in this league, I was trying to say that to the boys.

"Every single game you play in this league you’ve got to be at it all the time and we weren’t at it today.

“Second half we were the better team by a mile, created eight or 10 chances but we can’t seem to score goals at the minute. First half wasn’t acceptable and I said that to the guys at half-time, you can’t go out on your home pitch and lose four goals. And it’s the manner that we lost the goals: letting people walk past us and not tackling or diving into things when we shouldn’t be diving in.

“You just can’t give goals away like that, you could be the best side in the world but if you give goals away like that you won’t win games and that’s what it’s all about.

“Positives for me, second half we done well, knocked the ball about well. I need a fox in the box, someone who’s going to put their neck on the line in that goal area. If we done that we’d have scored three or four more goals.

“Can you put it down to a bad day at the office? No, because we’ve made mistakes and that’s not acceptable.”