GREENOCK’S three-game winning run came to an end on Saturday, as Ardeer Thistle snatched the points with a late goal.

Although not on a par with the stormy scenes when the sides met in Ayrshire, there were still plenty of incidents, including another two red cards for Greenock, and some scuffles amongst rival fans in the stand.

On the pitch, Ardeer are fighting for their lives in the Super League First Division, and the victory has lifted them above the relegation zone.

Before the match they were hit with the news that their manager, Derek Gemmell, had had his six-match ban increased to just over four months, as an SJFA disciplinary meeting imposed the drastic suspension following his conduct at a game in January.

Gemmell watched from the grass verge behind the away dug-out as his side got off to a bright start on Saturday.

But Greenock then threatened with a few attempts at goal before eventually taking the lead on 29 minutes.

A corner kick from Martin Orr snaked through a packed penalty area to the far edge of the six-yard box, where Ryan Begley stooped to send a low header into the net.

A rattled Ardeer then had three players booked in the space of eight minutes, and looked to be there for the taking.

But Greenock gifted them the equaliser six minutes before half-time.

David McGarrigle was short with a pass-back to Ryan McWilliams, and as Ardeer’s Lee Munro latched on to the loose ball and was about to score, he was brought down by the keeper, who was duly red-cared by referee David Dunne. Sub keeper Mark Monk was brought on at the expense of Kenny Munro, but he was unable to stop Scott Reid scoring from the spot to send the sides in level at the interval.

A rejuvenated Thistle had their tails up and dominated the opening 20 minutes of the second half.

Ross Stewart should have scored but fired his volley into the side-netting, and it took a great block from Monk to prevent Steven Tan from netting, as the left-back was sent clear on goal.

Reid then had a net-bound shot blocked by McGarrigle on the six-yard line as Ardeer continued to press.

Allan Docherty was working tirelessly in attack for Greenock, but it took until the 77th minute before the home side created their first real chance of the second half.

Even then, it was slack play from Ardeer which sent sub Jamie Cunning through on goal, but he fired his shot high over the bar. Stewart had a similar chance for Ardeer at the other end moments later but sliced his shot wide.

However the visitors did find the net six minutes from time, when Reid got his second goal, clipping in a cross from the left to send the away support into raptures.

Emotions spilled over, though, and there were some unsavoury scenes as a minor scuffle broke out in the stand. Ardeer had had a rowdy element in the previous match between the sides, and some of them had made their way to Ravenscraig.

They seemed intent on being provocative from the start, creating a tense atmosphere which always looked likely to lead to something more unpleasant.

As in the match down at Ardeer, the police were called again, but things had calmed down by the time they arrived minutes later.

However, if Ardeer are relegated, this nasty element of their support certainly won’t be missed.

Meanwhile, back on the pitch, events were taking second place and it went almost unnoticed that Greenock had a second player sent off, with Barri Stanton seeing red, as he did at Ardeer, this time for foul and abusive language, as the game petered out to the end.

Manager Martin Campbell said: “At 1-0 up we were in total control and looking very comfortable.

“Then we shot ourselves in the foot with David’s slack pass-back, although Ryan should just have cleared it instead of trying to take a touch.

“We were up against it after that, because all your plans for the game are thrown out the window with a goalkeeper sent off. As it got near the end, I suppose I would have taken a point at 1-1, so to lose that late goal was very disappointing.” GREENOCK: McWilliams, T. Docherty (McLaughlin 66), Doherty, McGarrigle (Cunning 66), Begley, Jamieson, Orr, Stanton, Brown, A. Docherty, Munro (Monk 39). Subs not used: Craig, Murray.

Greenock Juniors are sponsored by SAVEHEAT, and the Lighthouse Bar. Match sponsored by Garden Care Dunoon.