Derek Carson insists the hard work starts now for himself and co-manager Chris Cameron after Neilston wrapped up their 2018/19 season with a 2-2 draw at home to Craigmark Burntonians.

With a top half finish already secure, the Farmer’s Boys started brightly with Stephen Stirling going close early on.

Carson and Cameron’s side didn’t have long to wait for the opener, however, a pin-point Simon McBryde free-kick found Dylan Fletcher who made no mistake, nodding home at the back post 20 minutes in.

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Neilston were forced to make two first-half changes with both Euan Clark and Cammy Haddow picking up knocks with Allan Diack and Chris McLaughlin coming on as they went in 1-0 up at the break.

The visitors upped the tempo in search of a way back into it in the early stages of the second-half as the crossbar came to Neilston’s rescue with Sean Patrick well beaten.

Fletcher had the ball in the net moments later only for it to be flagged offside before Craigmark eventually levelled proceedings through Greg Vernon.

But Neilston quickly restored their lead thanks to David Gordon’s curling free-kick from the edge of the area.

Sub Diack went close to ensuring Neilston finished the season in style but Craigmark held on to set up a nervy finale.

Barrhead News: Neilston went ahead twice at the Brig but couldn’t hold on as Craigmark nicked a point (Photo: Paul Byars)Neilston went ahead twice at the Brig but couldn’t hold on as Craigmark nicked a point (Photo: Paul Byars)

With the clock ticking away, Neilston conceded a needless free-kick just outside the box which allowed the away side to push everyone forward for one final attack with Scott Dempter rising highest above the defence to secure a last gasp point.

And, after taking over the reigns in November following Martin Campbell and John-Paul Down’s departure and guiding the Farmer’s Boys to a top half finish in the West Region Championship, Carson admits that both himself and Cameron were happy to get the season out of the way with the pair eager to get their pre-season preparations underway.

He said: “We’ve been really pleased at the standard since we came in back in November. We’ve been very happy with the attitude and reaction since we took over. 

“Pre-season is the part myself and Chris are really looking forward to now, though. The final whistle on Saturday is when the hard work started for us because next season is when we’ll start to be judged as it’ll be our own team with a full pre-season behind them.

“We’re really looking forward to that challenge. We’ve got a decent wee break with four weeks off but we’ve already drawn up our pre-season plan.”

With pre-season plans in mind, Neilston have been quick to confirm their first summer friendly with Premiership champions Auchinleck Talbot already lined up for a mouth-watering clash.

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Carson added: “We’ll be playing against Talbot in the Blair Trophy on July 13. That will be a brilliant test against the champions in the Premiership and Scottish Junior Cup finalists. We’re hoping for a good crowd in that one - it will be a good early run out for the boys.”

“The players we have here and the players we’re thinking about bringing in will be really tested by Talbot which is what we want to see. They are probably the best junior team there is so we’re really excited.

“There’s not much we can do right now in terms of signings due to the season still going on for some teams, but we have a list of players we’re keen to speak to and we will be chasing that up as soon as we possibly can.” 

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