Neilston co-manager Chris Cameron heaped praise on his threadbare squad after they matched West Region Premiership and Scottish Junior Cup champions Auchinleck Talbot on Saturday.

Two late second-half efforts sealed a Talbot win in the annual Hugh Blair trophy friendly, but with several first team players missing due to injuries and other commitments, Cameron and fellow boss Derek Carson were able to pick out plenty of positives in the defeat.

The club welcomed the family of former manager Alex Gourlay to the Brig with both sides paying their respects with a minute’s silence before kick-off.

And after a scrappy opening period, it was the visitors who carved out the first real chance with an effort blazing narrowly over the bar from outside the area.

A period of sustained Talbot pressure followed but it was Neilston who should have opened the scoring on the half-hour mark.

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Stephen Stirling’s low free-kick found Ross Hocknull in the area but the new arrival couldn’t quite control his effort as it went inches wide.

Talbot made a flurry of subs at the break as they went in search of the opener after the restart.

Scott Robson did well to clear a Mark Shankland effort off the line early in the second period while former Neilston ace Hamish McKinlay went close himself moments later.

Barrhead News: Threadbare Neilston didn't look out of place against the country's top junior sideThreadbare Neilston didn't look out of place against the country's top junior side

The visitor’s pressure eventually paid off 75 minutes in when Keir Samson got on the end of a perfect delivery to leave Kyle Pirie no chance from just six-yards out.

Talbot added a second with minutes remaining thanks to Graham Wilson as it finished 2-0 with Neilston looking impressive throughout.

Cameron admits that Neilston could have been on the wrong end of a heavy defeat having gone into it with such a small squad, but was delighted to see his side match the country’s top junior outfit.

He said: “We could have ended up with egg on our faces but credit to the lads as they more than held their own. In terms of fitness and game management, it was a really positive day. It ticked every box we wanted it to tick. 

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“I hate getting beat against anyone but taking everything into account, there was some real positives. It was a big step up as Talbot are the best team at this level by a country mile.

“We actually only had 11 players so we had to mix it with our U19s but it was a really good exercise for the boys who were there. 

“We were really comfortable for long periods of the match and more than held our own despite Talbot having the lion’s share of possession.”

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