GREENOCK Wanderers were let off the hook on Saturday when their BT National League Division Two match with Aberdeenshire was abandoned after 48 minutes — owing to an injury to referee Damien Timpson.

It was a bizarre ending to the game but the locals were beneficiaries of a lucky break as they were 33-0 down at the time and looked like being on the wrong end of another heavy defeat.

The hope for a revival in fortunes based on a spirited display at Laigh Bent the previous Saturday failed to materialise and was quickly quashed as the ‘west-enders’ were put to the sword by an excellent Aberdeenshire side who outgunned and outmanoeuvred the locals in every aspect of the game.

In truth, Wanderers worked hard and there is little criticism being vented towards the current side, more a calm resignation that on occasions in this league they will face superior teams and consequently have to take the defeats that comes their way.

This was one such match when the objective quickly changed from victory to damage limitation, but in defeat Wanderers had performers who caught the eye with their industry and dogged spirit.

Up front skipper Murray MacDonald, Matt Gray and Andy Love all produced some worthwhile possession, mostly from the lineout and behind the scrum Andy McDougall and Callum Harrison did their best with the meagre rations of ball they received.

Ally Abernethy and Anton Ward also did their utmost to stem the tide at the contact zone but were often outnumbered and swamped by a strong and efficient visiting pack.

Elsewhere it was another rearguard action as the one-sided nature of the contest unfolded.

The Dons got the score board ticking over in the fourth minute. The visiting pack secured possession from a lineout close to the Greenock line and two quick rucks sucked in the Greenock defence, allowing back row star Murray McCall to drive over for the try.

On 10 minutes more quickly recycled ball from a midfield set was moved wide and full-back Jonty Gray entered the line at pace and dummied his way through the Wanderers defence to dot down close to the posts. Goal-kicker Adam Blake converted to stretch the lead to 12-0.

The visitors were in their pomp and produced a brand of rugby that was aggressive, fast, elusive and highly entertaining.

On 19 minutes more quick possession from the ruck was spun wide and crisp ball transference across the back line found centre Iain Downie in space and he sprinted in from 20 metres out.

Five minutes later and another similar move once more sucked in the hard pressed Wanderers’ defenders and number eight McCall was the spare man this time and he accepted the opportunity to secure his brace of tries and what should have been the try-scoring bonus point for his side.

Blake converted on both occasions to extend the advantage to 26-0.

It was one-way traffic at this point and no surprise when Shire added to their lead moments later.

On 25 minutes the visiting pack went through the phases and with the local defence running out of numbers scrum half Scott Simpson spread the play and winger Steven Murchie showed his pace and clinical finishing ability to breeze in at the corner. Blake’s conversion completed the scoring for the visitors.

Wanderers held out for the next 15 minutes and the second period started brightly for them, with the early exchanges taking place just inside the Aberdeenshire half.

On 48 minutes the real drama of the contest unfolded when referee Timpson overstretched and pulled his calf muscle rendering him practically immobile. Both club physiotherapists treated the injured whistler for some 10 minutes but there was to be no miracle cure and with no alternative official in attendance there was little option but to abandon the match.

The rules of the competition provide that any fixture must run at least 60 minutes before the result is binding and consequently Wanderers got out of jail and in terms of this contest at least live to fight another day.

It is perhaps harsh on Aberdeenshire who must now incur the time, effort and expense of another trip to Fort Matilda later in the season.

Vice-president Stevie Anderson said: “It is a very unusual situation but the rules are quite clear and both clubs have to abide by them.

“Had the game lasted more than an hour then the result would have stood but I suppose you could say we got a lucky break.” Wanderers now embark on a series of tough away fixtures over the next three weeks, starting at Musselburgh next weekend and followed by Whitecraigs and Kirkcaldy respectively.

The locals are next at home on 14 February when they entertain Haddington in what is likely to be a vital match in the context of the relegation battle.

Wanderers are sponsored by Texas Instruments.