As Jennings started his three game suspension Gordon Young moved Hateley to midfield and introduced Saunders at right back. The visitors kicked off facing the Cooper end and within a minute they had forced a corner. It was an early sign that we would be on the back foot for most of the afternoon.
Minutes later Miller was released and Randolph did well to deflect his effort from close range. The loose ball was headed goalwards but Reynolds popped up on the goal line to head to safety. We were under pressure for most of the opening twenty minutes and it was with some relief that we could cheer an effort from Murphy. He cut in from the left and fired a good shot across the goal but it was just off target.
Despite that respite we were two down at the break. Miller found space inside the crowded box and directed Bougherra’s cut back wide of Randolph for the opener. A free kick from the left wing was headed into his own net by Saunders for the second.
In truth, we could have been four down by half time. The visitors seemed to have too much easy possession and we did not do enough to knock them off their stride. When we had the ball we seemed devoid of ideas. To make matters worse, Hateley had to be replaced and our shape had to change when Sutton replaced him.
A gift appeared in the first minute after the break. A high ball was not cleared as Bougherra and Weir dithered. Sutton was able to prod the ball to the corner. Suddenly we were back in the game with a dream start to the second period. Unfortunately we were unable to mount a comeback.
A fine run from Weiss saw him through the centre of our defence and he finished well to restore the two goal deficit. There was no lack of effort on our part but little football.
The fourth was conceded when we fell sucker to a quick free kick. Miller’s touch at the near post finished the contest. We stuck to the task but the visitors had taken their foot off the pedal. The East Stand was almost empty by the final whistle and thye planning for Wednesday’s visit to Parkhead can begin.
On today’s showing only diehard claret and amber optimists will expect us to take anything in midweek.