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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Wake-up call for Gretna

HITMAN Colin McMenamin is urging Gretna fans not to read anything into last night’s disappointing friendly defeat at home to Morton.

McMenamin insists the SPL new boys will be ready for the likes of Old Firm giants Rangers and Celtic when the new season kicks off against Falkirk in just over two weeks.

McMenamin has hit six goals during Gretna’s pre-season campaign but he was out of luck last night as the Borderers stuttered against Morton, who were promoted to the Scottish First Division last season.

Peter Weatherson and trialist Alan Coakley capitalised on two defensive mistakes to seal the visitors’ victory.

McMenamin, whose previous clubs include Livingston, is preparing for a return to the SPL after a break of two seasons – and is confident he can score the goals to help Gretna confound the critics who say the former non-league club doesn’t belong in Scotland’s top flight.

Speaking after last night’s defeat, he said: “At the moment it is all about getting match practice, working on our fitness and getting used to new players in the team.

“We’ve had a few comfortable wins in pre-season but we weren’t getting carried away as we knew it was going to be a difficult test against Morton.

“All I want to do is put the ball in the back of the net. I’ve scored a few in pre-season and now I just want to continue it into the new season.”

McMenamin is forming an exciting partnership with summer signing Fabian Yantorno. The skilful Uruguayan was at the hub of every Gretna attack last night and McMenamin expects even greater things once the season kicks off.

He said: “Fabian has great potential and talent and hopefully he can be a big, big player for us.

“Things are looking good between us and we are linking up well. He’s settled in fantastically well, his English is coming on and we’re helping to teach him a few Scottish words!”

Weatherson opened the scoring on 17 minutes, carving open the Gretna defence before chipping the ball over trialist Hungarian keeper Daniel Illyez, who did little to press his claims for a longer stay.

McMenamin sent a header wide before midfielder Allan Jenkins and Yantorno were denied with a double close-range block by Morton keeper David McGurn.

Coakley increased Morton’s lead just before half-time when he slotted home Jim McAlister’s cross.

Jenkins was thwarted again late on when his shot hit the underside of the bar and was cleared.

Gretna were without an established keeper, while Martin Canning, Paul Murray and James Grady were unfit, but new head coach Davie Irons will be looking for an improved performance at Darlington on Saturday.

Gretna: Illyez, Cowan, Skelton, Jenkins, Birch, Innes (Grainger, 68), Osman, Deverdics (Baldacchino, 46), McMenamin, Yantorno and Graham, subs (not used): Wright.

Morton: McGurn (Robinson, 46), Weatherson, MacGregor, Miller, Greacen, Harding (Keenan, 74), Walker, Coakley (Templeman, 74), Finlayson, McAlister, subs (not used): Gilbride and Graham.

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