A Promising Start

April 17th, 2024

Merseyside Nighthawks 7 – East Kilbride Pirates 43

East Kilbride travelled to Merseyside for the start of the latest chapter in the Pirates’ story. New Head Coach, Matthew “Spoonie” Davies has recruited well, with a large playing squad and a plethora of coaches on the sidelines, and there was optimism in the air as kick off approached.

The home side kicked off and EK immediately got onto the front foot, moving the ball all the way to the Nighthawks’ 6 yard line before an unforeseen fumble gave away possession. Their second drive also came to a premature end when a Neil Baptie pass hung in the strong breeze and was picked off. The defence were standing strong however and quickly forced a second punt. It was third time lucky for the Pirates and they concluded this drive with a 7-yard pass by Baptie to Martin Gallagher, and while the 2PAT attempt came up short, it was  an early lead for the visitors. That lead didn’t last long though, as on the first play after the kick off, Merseyside launched a long, wind-assisted pass over the top of the coverage which was hauled in for a 66 yard TD. The point after was good, making the score 7-6 to the hosts. Undaunted, EK bounced straight back, and a seven play drive ended with Baptie carrying home from 4 yards. A low snap on the PAT saw it turn into an unsuccessful pass attempt, but the Pirates took a 12-7 lead into the second quarter.

With Merseyside having punted to end the first period, it was EK who again took control. Another long drive was capped off with a 5-yard run by debutant Misba Islam and Scott McDonald added the PAT. That scenario was repeated when another Nighthawks punt allowed EK to drive the ball upfield before Dougie Meechan was the beneficiary this time, adding a 4-yard TD run. Another aborted 2PAT left the score at 25-7. There was no further scoring in the first half, with the only other opportunity being a 34-yard field goal attempt by McDonald that was blocked.

East Kilbride kicked off the third quarter, but soon had the ball back courtesy of an Fergus McNiven fumble recovery. This led to more points, with Baptie again scoring with a 9 yard run on this occasion. Their conversion woes continued however, leaving the Pirates’ lead at 31-7.

Later in the period, Mark Stewart blocked a Merseyside punt and EK took possession at the 4-yard line. Islam duly added his second TD of the day for another unconverted score. The Nighgthawks’ response came up short when McNiven intercepted a wayward pass and returned it 57 yards to score. Despite the Extra Point again failing, EK were now sufficiently far enough ahead at 43-7 for the “Running Clock” procedure to be invoked. The combination of accelerated time and both sides rotating their squads meant that there was no further scoring in the match.

So, a promising start for the Pirates, but they still have things to work on. This Sunday (21st) sees them on their travels again, heading to face the Newcastle Vikings who also won their first game of the season.

Report by Bill Campbell
Photos Amanda McDonald


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