East Kilbride Thistle weren't at the races - but AWOL players were, as boss blasts Scottish Grand National trip

Aaron Connolly has blasted several of his East Kilbride Thistle players for missing Saturday's clash with Royal Albert to attend the Scottish Grand National.

The Jags boss was fuming that a number of his squad - who he does not wish to name - didn't turn up for Saturday's clash at home to Royal Albert, as they opted to switch the Showpark for Ayr Racecourse.

Thistle ended up losing their West of Scotland Fourth Division clash 2-1 as they head into the final furlong of their season, while some of the squad enjoyed a sunny day at the races.

Connolly accepts the club do not pay their players but wishes some would show a greater commitment to the cause.

The former Ayr United and Cumnock forward said: "I'm disappointed in the result but I am more disappointed in the players who were missing for Saturday because they chose to prioritise other things over football.

"They wanted to go and watch horses jump over a fence instead of play football, while a couple had other commitments.

"It has been the story of the season and I have snapped with it, to be honest.

"I get that it is this level of football and we don't pay players. Their commitment to training has been excellent but when you get big events happening nearby, we very often lose bodies so it is something we have to deal with and improve on as a club.

"I know players are here to help us and I don't want to be over critical of them but there are certain names within the group - who I won't name - where this is happening too often.

"It doesn't help the group either because we are having to chop and change the team.

"It has been a challenging season.

Connolly is looking for a response from his side when they face Aberdeen East End in the Scottish Junior Cup
East Kilbride Thistle in action -Credit:Reach plc

"I played at a level where that wasn't tolerated so it is very alien that people miss games of football for things that aren't work or a genuine family commitment.

"I don't want that to be the story of the game, but that's what it is, unfortunately.

"Things need to be taken a bit more seriously if we are going to be a successful football club.

"The 14 boys who were there gave me everything they had. The squad was threadbare, but that is not an excuse because we should have had enough to win the game."

To make matters worse, the Jags conceded a last-minute goal to lose out a point and stay seventh in the West of Scotland Fourth Division ahead of tomorrow's home clash with Newmains United, kick-off 6.45pm. They are then not in action until May 4 at home to Eglinton.

On the Royal Albert result, Connolly said: "We've lost to a last-minute set-piece in a game where I thought we dominated and had most of the ball.

"I thought we lacked a cutting edge in the final third and we just couldn't create enough chances.

"We probably didn't deserve to win it over the piece, if I'm honest, and we got done by a late sucker-punch."

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