Duncan Sinclair admitted his Arthurlie side were ‘rank rotten’ at points as they fell to a third defeat on the bounce for the first time this season.

Sinclair had challenged his to side improve their league form after they crashed out of the West of Scotland Cup last week but they couldn’t quite manage it as Darvel took all three points at Recreation Park.

With a number of key players absent, Lie looked a shadow of the side that went on an eight-game unbeaten run earlier in the season as mid-table Darvel started well.

Barrhead News: Not good enough from Arthurlie as they fall to third straight defeatNot good enough from Arthurlie as they fall to third straight defeat

Vale had a number of chances in the opening half hour as Lie held on with the home side hitting the upright twice in quick succession.

The hosts deservedly opened the scoring 30 minutes in when sloppy defending from Lie defender Conor Bradley allowed Paul Cameron time in the area. Bradley, looking to atone for his mistake, lunged in to give the referee no choice but to award a spot-kick which Ricky Hanvey tucked away.

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Darvel were awarded a second penalty just seven minutes later after Hanvey clashed with Del McNab in the box, but after a consultation between the ref and his linesman it was correctly overturned with Lie awarded a free-kick.

Lie didn’t learn from their mistakes after the break, however, allowing Hanvey to stroll into the box unmarked once again to nod home this time for his and his side’s second.

Sinclair tinkered with his line up as Dan McKay replaced Tony Etherson and the change looked inspired as the substitute had an immediate impact, holding off the defender before cleverly back-heeling it through to McNab who fired home to halve the deficit.

Arthurlie threw everything at the Ayrshire side in the final 15 minutes but it was too little too late as their miserable run of form continued with more dropped points.

And while Sinclair was quick to blast a rotten first-half, he did praise his side’s efforts after going 2-0 down.

He said: “We were rank rotten in the first-half, there’s not getting away from that. We just didn’t do the basics right at all. Darvel are a big physical team who look to take advantage of set pieces.

“I have to give credit to my boys too, though, they came out better in the second-half. We could easily have capitulated but we rolled up our sleeves and tried to fight back into it. We just couldn’t get it in the end but I thought we deserved a draw as we did play better in the second-half.”

With the top two in the Championship holding each other to a draw at the weekend, Sinclair still believes that his side can clinch promotion.

He added: “Mathematically there’s still an opportunity there to get promoted. We’ve still to play Cumbernauld and Benburb so we’re right in it. 

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“We’ve got Craigmark Burntonians now which will be a good match as we’re trying to get out of this league at the top and they’re trying to fight to make sure they stay in it at the bottom. We had to play well to beat them 2-1 earlier in the season so we’ll need to replicate that and get back to our best.”