Larkhall Thistle 5 Bellshill Athletic 1 – 3rd December 2016

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Bellshill Athletic
Central League First Division

The Thistle players limbered up for their big night out in Newcastle with a routine win against a frankly poor Bellshill side.

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There was almost a full squad to pick from with only regular keeper Stuart Thomson out (holiday). Scott Niicholl was available again after suspension but Liam Mushett kept his place in the back three in what was Larkhall’s first home league game since Lesmahagow in early October.

The visitors got off to a lead against the early run of play with a swirling hit that dropped in over keeper David Thomson but that was almost the entire sum of their threat on the day.

The Jags for their part made heavy weather of the first half and although they bombarded the Bellshill with chance after chance, couldn’t manage to get the breakthrough that their play deserved as Bellshill clung gamely to their lead.

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The game turned around five minutes before half time when Josh Payne scored directly from a corner with an effort that keeper Grant must have been disappointed with. Thistle managed to take a lead into the break with a second goal just before the whistle when Gracie latched on to a loose ball in a goalmouth scramble and slammed it into the roof of the net.

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It was no more than Thistle deserved and there couldn’t have been too many complaints if the score had been four or five.

Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Bellshill Athletic 1

The second half was a bit better for Bellshill in terms of pressure and possession, but unfortunately for them worse in terms of goals. They looked to have come out as if they were on a mission but Larkhall increased the lead seven minutes into the half following a good team move when David Reid got on the end of a Mark Canning cross and planted a great header into the bottom corner.

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Although the Jags were two goals up, memories of recent home defeats to ‘Gow and Fauldhouse from winning positions made the lead less comfortable and the pressure was added to by Bellshill having the bulk of the rest of the second half play.

Indeed it wasn’t until seven minutes from the end that Thistle put the game out of sight when they went further ahead from the penalty spot, following another sweeping move down the left side. Mark Canning stepped up and sent Grant the wrong way to make sure of the points.

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Substitute Matty Clarke put the icing on the cake with a tap-in two minutes from time from a cross by Ryan Innes.

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Another good result that keeps the chase for promotion on track although the team never really hit the heights they are capable of. And Although the scoreline didn’t flatter Thistle at all, it was probably as much down to the level of opposition who will surely struggle to stay in the league at this rate.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 5 Bellshill Athletic 1

Website man of the match: As picked by recovering Thistle stalwart Hugh Kerr – Josh Payne

Larkhall Thistle:
D. Thomson; Brown, Mushett, Reynolds; Kelly (Jack 63), Payne, Innes, Canning, Reid; McKeever (Clarke 78), Gracie (McStay). Subs: Nicholl, Burns

Bellshill Athletic:
Grant; McDonald, Jeffrey, Jushkowiak, Simon; Smith, Howarth, McCormack, Brunton, Nichol, Simpson

Scorers: Payne, Gracie, Reid, Canning, Clarke

Booked: Reynolds, Kelly

Video of the highlights below, unfortunately due to (cough…) technical reasons, the Bellshill goal is missing (and also Levi’s prediction that Thistle would go on and win).

Can anybody help?

1914-medal-back 1914-medal-front

I got sent pictures of the medal above by Tammy Kilpatrick-Schull, who reckons it might have been presented to her great great great grandfather, Thistle player H Kilpatrick.

Tammy and her family are trying to find out anything she can about the medal so if anybody has any information or even an idea as to what it might have been for, please leave a comment below.

Thanks on behalf of Tammy.

Larkhall Thistle 1 Fauldhouse United 2 – 19th November 2016

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Faulhouse United
Scottish Cup 3rd Round

Thistle manager Dunky Sinclair started the game with an unchanged lineup after last week’s win at Wishaw in the first early kick off of the new season. It was the Jags first official home game since they played Lesmahagow in early September and ended a run of five away fixtures that included the Albert game in the last round of the cup.

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Fauldhouse started the game on top and for the first ten minutes it looked like Thistle were going to be in for a hard game as a series of early corners put the Larkhall defence under pressure but good handling by keeper Thomson and some solid defending kept the threat at bay.

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The Jags came right back into the game after this early flurry however and were in control for most of the rest of the first half. There was a shout for a penalty from Thistle after David Reid had made a good run down the left and whipped in a headheight cross that was met by Ryan Innes who guided it onto the post, as it came back and fell in the box he tried to play it but went over as a couple of Fauldhouse players lunged in to tackle him.

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Headers from Liam Mushett and Innes went narrowly past the post and a good strike from Innes that went past the same post were the closest the Jags came to going in with a first half lead.

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Faulhouse United 0

The second half began much as the first half had with Fauldhouse coming out of the blocks early and having a real go. The Jags defence once again coped admirably though, although there was a real let-off for Thistle early in the half as the visitors had a goal mysteriously disallowed.

Again though just as the first half had played out, the second turned quickly into a largely one way street – heading straight for the Fauldhouse goal. Thistle had the majority of play and chances and the only real surprise was that it took until half an hour into the second half for them to take the lead.

Thistle won a corner on the left side and David Reid crossed the ball deep to the back post, Innes was up highest and headed the ball back acrosss the goal into the top corner giving the keeper no chance.

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Even with the upper hand, it always looked likely that a second goal would be needed and the Jags pressed hard to try and get it, shots from Canning and Gracie went over the bar before Gracie had a real chance to tie the game up as he went clear in the box but couldn’t manage to steer the ball in from a tight wide angle.

It was a miss that Thistle would come to regret as Fauldhouse produced a remarkable late smash and grab act to steal the tie.

As the Jags tried to see out the game, they lost a corner almost right on the end of regulation time which to be honest could have been prevented. Keeper Thomson shouted to claim the ball but Niall Reynolds either didn’t hear the shout or decided on safety first and sliced it back behind himself out for a corner as he tried to clear it.

The corner was played in to the edge of the box where Byrne was lurking completely unmarked and hit a slightly scuffed shot on the half volley that took a deflection and gave Thomson no chance.

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The confidence that the goal had given Thistle seemed to disappear like a burst balloon as they now looked more like the team that was going to have to try and hang on for a draw rather than win the game.

If the first goal had been a bad one to lose, the winner was arguably even worse. As Fauldhouse pressed, Josh Payne played the ball to McKeever on the right wing who lumped it forward into space, it was gathered by the keeper and he sent it high and long down to the other end. Reynolds appeared to mis-time his jump and let it bounce inside the box and as it rose up towards the goal Thomson came flying out to clear but missed the ball entirely leaving the Fauldhouse substitute clear to hook it into the empty net.

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It was a game that Thistle never looked like losing, nor did they deserve to, despite their 3/1 prematch price tag. And although it will be no consolation to those throwing their bookie lines on the terracing, the players can at least take some heart from outplaying a team from the top league in the east.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Faulhouse United 2

Website man of the match: Good performances from Brown and Mushett in the defence, and Reid always looked a threat with Payne and Kelly battling well in midfield but Ryan Innes scored and could have had another two or three as well as putting in a great shift in midfield so he gets it this week.

Larkhall Thistle:
S. Thomson; Brown, Mushett, Reynolds; Kelly, Payne, Innes, Canning, Reid; McKeever, Gracie. Subs: McStay, D Thomson, Nicholl, Jack, Burns

Fauldhouse United:
Connolly; Ward, Nicholl, Watson, Devlin; Black, Stewart, Fallon, Richford, Sally, Byrne, Coogans

Scorer: Innes

Wishaw 1 Larkhall Thistle 3 – 12th November 2016

The Beltane, Wishaw
Wishaw v Larkhall Thistle
Central League First Division

Thistle recalled Andy Brown to right back and moved Niall Reynolds to left back, Liam Mushett started at centre half. Ryan Innes was recalled to midfield and Mark McKeever started up front with Graham Gracie. Brian Jack and Matty Clarke dropped to the bench.

Wishaw made the brighter start to the game and it wasn’t till after five minutes that Thistle even got out off their own half but the early efforts didn’t result in any chances being created.

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The Jags did come into the game as the half went on but apart from a couple of long range efforts from Mark Canning there wasn’t really much of a threat to the home goal, meanwhile Wishaw had one good chance to take the lead but ex-Thistle player Ross McGeachie squandered a free header from close range.

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The half was saved from mediocrity though with a great goal just before half time, David Reid firing a tremendous shot on the volley that gave the home keeper no chance.

Half time: Wishaw 0 Larkhall Thistle 1

Thistle increased their lead eight minutes into the second half when McKeever did well to play the ball out of defence to Graham Gracie on the left, he switched the ball across the park to Josh Payne on the right who took a fantastic touch to control the ball and leave the first defender, he then cut inside past another and drilled the ball low into the bottom corner.

Wishaw hardly had time to recover from this blow when Ryan Innes nearly added a third goal, Reid drove a free kick across the area and Reggie stooped to glance the ball goalwards and only the face of the bar stopped it from being a goal. The ball dropped back down into the box three yards out but there were no takers and the home defence scrambled it clear.

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Wishaw pressed looking to get back into the game and got a lifeline through a penalty award for handball by Innes. As Thomson dived to his left the ball was calmly rolled into the opposite side of the goal.

The home fightback only lasted a few minutes though as Larkhall went right back up the park and set McKeever clear, the last home defender having no option but to pull him down to save what would probably have been a goal. The referee awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and sent the defender off and to add to their misery Reid slammed the free kick low into the net through the wall.

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The drama continued to unfold as next Ryan Innes completed an eventful return by getting a second yellow card for a mistimed tackle. This gave Wishaw fresh hope and they were on top for most of the rest of the game, bringing out two cracking saves from Thomson to preserve the lead as well as missing a few good chances – McGeachie being the culprit on more than one occasion.

Dunky Sinclair made two late substitutions, bringing on Matty Clarke and Brian Jack for Mark McKeever and Hugh Kelly, both having put in tremendous shifts.

It was a win Thistle needed to keep pace with leaders Cambuslang Rangers and St Roch’s who both also won today and keeps the Jags well in the hunt for the promotion places.

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Full time: Wishaw 1 Larkhall Thistle 3

Website man of the match: Very difficult today with the whole defence looking solid and only spoiling the clean sheet with a soft penalty, Canning and Kelly controlling the centre of the park and Gracie and McKeever battling all day up front, but MoM this week goes to David Reid for the extra bit of quality he brought with two fine goals.

Larkhall Thistle:
S. Thomson; Brown, Mushett, Reynolds; Kelly (Jack 85), Payne, Innes, Canning, Reid; McKeever (Clarke 80), Gracie.

Scorers: Reid (2) Payne

Booked: Mushett, Kelly

Sent off: Innes

Match sponsorship v Fauldhouse

The club have great pleasure in announcing that the Mirror Door Place, 17 Raploch Street will be sponsoring the Scottish Cup game against Fauldhouse on the 19th of November.

The full range of products available can be seen on the company’s website slidingdoorfactory.co.uk.

On behalf of the club we would like to thank the Mirror Door Place for their support.