PORT Glasgow exited the Central League Cup at the first round stage, after this narrow defeat at Parklea on Saturday.

The Port were up against it from as early as the third minute, when they were reduced to 10 men following a red card for striker Graham Black.

A chest-high challenge on a Vics player was deemed by referee Richard Murray to be an ordering-off offence, leaving the Port facing an uphill battle from a very early stage.

Despite that, however, they managed to keep a strong looking Blantyre side at bay in the first half, restricting the visitors to a number of free-kick attempts at goal.

There was one close thing, though, when the Vics’ recent signing from Irvine Meadow, Mark Thomson, saw a shot hit the inside of the post and trundle along the line before it was cleared.

Port Glasgow tried to take advantage of the blustery wind at their backs, but being a man down up front, attacking opportunities were very limited.

They did have one good chance, however, when a Jamie McKenna, inset, shot was parried by the Vics keeper into the path of Alan Jamieson, who perhaps should have done better than fire the rebound over the bar.

The 10-man Port side continued to give a good account of themselves in the second half, with Dylan McLaughlin looking lively and firing over several crosses which unfortunately for the Port found no takers inside the Blantyre penalty area.

The decisive goal came on 65 minutes, and it was little surprise that it came from yet another Vics free-kick.

Craig Smith’s whipped effort from the set piece somehow made its way through a ruck of players in the Port box and ended up beating keeper Bryan Tucker and nestling in the back of the net.

The Port battled hard in a bid to get the goal which would have taken the tie to a penalty shoot-out, but the closest they came was a McKenna shot eight minutes from time which just missed the target.

And so it is Blantyre who go on to face Lesmahagow in the second round, with the remainder of the Port’s season now confined to their final three league matches.

However they will not be in action over the Easter weekend, with league bosses giving them a free Saturday, although several other fixtures in the Port’s division are scheduled.

Assistant manager Scott Jackson said: “Obviously we are disappointed to have gone out of the cup, but the boys did well to keep their shape, considering we were down to 10 men for 87 minutes of the match.

“We would liked to have had a game next Saturday, but it will still be a significant weekend for us, with a few of our promotion rivals facing each other, so after that we will have a better idea of where we stand.” Port Glasgow: Tucker, Irvine, Coyle, Walton, Gault, Jamieson, Kearns, McAfee (McCormick 80), McKenna, McLaughlin, Black. Subs not used: Nugent, Gilmour.

Port Glasgow Juniors are sponsored by Regents Vehicle Sales, Greenock, and MAC HSL Ltd.