Irvine Vics boss urges squad to develop up shortly after rookie errors and pink playing cards show expensive

Brian McLuckie challenged his young Irvine Vics team to grow up fast.

The Westenders boss watched his team score a string of cheap goals, miss a penalty and end up with nine men as Neilston took a 5-1 win at Vics Park on Saturday.

Defender Struan Robb saw red after losing a penalty with Vics 4-1.

And while McLuckie thought the decision was particularly tough, he made no apology to striker Sam McKee, who shortly thereafter received his marching orders for an off-the-ball stamp on defender Robbie Halliday.

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McLuckie believes a lack of confidence and mounting frustration could affect his players after a difficult start to the season.

But he insisted: “We gave away bad goals and when the second got in the heads they went down.

“We have missed four of our more experienced payers and that has been shown at times, but we have to learn from our mistakes.

Action after the 1: 5 defeat on Saturday

“Once we have nine men, it’s very difficult for us.

“I thought the referee misunderstood the first one, but Sam’s red card is inexcusable.

“He disguised himself after the game and knows that he has let himself and his teammates down.

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“Look, these things can happen when you have such a young team and I don’t want to be too harsh on the players.

“We’re all disappointed, but we have to grow up fast.”

Vics actually got off to a decent start to the match, with McKee just shooting from a tight corner with a five-minute lead.

Strike partner Brian Connor forced goalkeeper Grant Hay to a save at his near post after tearing himself out of the Neilston backline.

But all their good early work was undone when they conceded two goals in as many minutes.

Neilston was the better side

Dylan Fletcher broke the dead end in the 10th minute and used the acres of space on the right to shoot over goalkeeper Chris Taylor into the net. Sixty seconds later, he celebrated again when he tapped a cross home from the right as a static Vics defense watched.

The home team managed to stabilize the ship and a shot from defender Daniel Martins hit the outside of the post as they pushed their way back into play.

Neilston scored a third hit just before half-time to pull the wind out of the sails. Adam Forde’s attempt at curling from the edge of the box struck Taylor.

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Vics was awarded a penalty three minutes into the second half, but Connor’s attempt hit the post.

The striker made up for it in 56 minutes when he shot home from close range.

But Neilston replied almost immediately and Fletcher went home on a cross to score his hat trick.

On the hour, Robb sent Oliver Smith into the box. One challenge umpire, Liam Gallagher, felt deserved as both a penalty and a red card.

Fletcher’s kick hit the bar, but Neilston was not disputed.

They scored a fifth goal 90 seconds later. Forde was on hand to throw a ricochet home after Taylor saved Fletcher’s first attempt.

Vics’ misery ended in 72 minutes when McKee was sent to an early bath.

The front man lost possession in the middle of the park and then stomped on the grounded Halliday. Hand-to-hand combat ensued when the piper showed Gallagher a red card.

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