Larkhall Thistle 2 Benburb 1 – 14th September 2016

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Benburb
Central League First Division

Welcome back to Hugh as he took his seat at the front, it’s been a while but the referees have had it easy for too long.

hugh

Thistle were looking for a win to boost their chances of keeping up with the early season pacesetters, but with Andy Brown out they decided to use Liam Mushett as a makeshift left back although Declan Doyle was available and on the bench.

larkhall-thistle-v-benburb-1
Benburb almost got off to a dream start when they were through on goal in the first minute but the shot went over the bar. The Jags recovered well from that early scare and took control of the early part of the half, taking lead in 12 minutes when Marty Clarke made a good run down the left to the byeline and cut the ball across the face of the goal for Mushett to tap in.

The visitors looked certain to equalise ten minutes later from a scramble inside the box but the shot came back off the post and an even better effort followed a few minutes later with a curled shot that hit the inside of the far post.

The equaliser came ten minutes from half time from a highly dubious penalty award when the referee gave a spot kick for what looked to most to be a normal 50/50 arial challenge. The penalty was converted by Livingston, giving young Thomson no chance in the home goal.

larkhall-thistle-v-benburb-3

Thistle’s best attempts at regaining the lead before half time came through a couple of free kicks, the first saw Mushett get a head to it but without causing any real threat. The second however was a blistering drive from David Reid that produced a very good save from Sommerville after a tremendous run from Josh Payne had brought the foul.

The Bens did have another good chance to score before the break but Thomson pulled off a good double save with his feet to keep the score level.

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Benburb 1

Larkhall got out of the blocks early in the second half and looked to regain their lead – shooting towards the gasworks end – and indeed they got the goal in the fifth minute when Matty Clarke lofted a header into the top corner from a Reid corner.

The tails were up now with the Jags pushing to build on the advantage with a third goal that would probably have killed the game. Graham Gracie, Reid and Clarke all had chances in a ten minute spell that the visitors didn’t have much answer to. Clarke was having a lot of joy down the left side and carved out two good chances, both of them saved well by the Bens keeper.

larkhall-thistle-v-benburb-2
Hugh Kelly had picked up a silly booking in the first half for attempting to handball it into the net and inevitably it came back to haunt him with 15 minutes left to play. A couple of minutes before that he had just managed to get away with a tackle in the middle of the park as he flew in but got a clean contact on the ball, this time though he mistimed it and the referee produced a second yellow card.

It was backs to the wall stuff for the rest of the game as Benburb applied the pressure to try and get level again but the team as a whole defended superbly and limited the visitors to only a couple of genuine chances.

Larkhall Thistle v Neilston 3

A good fighting performance by Thistle again to take all three points in what turned out to be a good end to end match that both teams made up for in effort what they might have lacked in terms of quality. The Jags now join Thorniewood, St Rochs, Cambuslang Rangers and Neilston in a 5-way tie for the lead at the top of the table, all on nine points from four games.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Benburb 1

Website Man of the Match: Another fine week for the youngsters with David Thomson producing a string of good saves and Ryan Innes solid in midfield and getting back towards his best, but again it was Josh Payne’s tireless running and sparks of genuine ability that set him apart from the rest on the park.

Larkhall Thistle:
D. Thomson; Mushett, Reynolds, Nicholl; Kelly, Payne, Canning, Innes, Reid; Clarke (Jack 78), Gracie. Subs: Stewart, McKeever, S.Thomson (GK), Burns, Doyle

Benburb:
Sommerville; Meechan, Wright, Greer, Collinge; Jackson, Blackwood, Boyle, Livinston, Wright, Jarvie. Subs: McNeil, Mailey, Gallagher, Lewis, McCallum

Scorers: Mushett, Clarke

Booked: Canning

Sent off: Kelly

Forth Wanderers 2 Larkhall Thistle 3 – 10th September 2016

Kingshill Park Forth,
Forth Wanderers v Larkhall Thistle
McBookie.com Central District First Division

Stewart Thomson (wedding) and Brian Jack (holiday) both  returned to the squad after missing the game against Neilston. However Paul Burns (wedding), Liam Mushett (work commitments) and Craig Rutherford (calf injury) were all missing. David Thomson retained his place in goal with Hugh Kelly starting in midfield. Thistle started brightly and Graham Gracie opened the scoring in 13 minutes after a fine move involving Ryan Innes and David Reid. As in previous games the Jags then proceeded to dominate the game but once again failed to take the chances they created with the home keeper having an outstanding game. Forth equalised 10 minutes before the interval despite the visitors having the majority of the play.

Half Time: Forth Wanderers 1 Larkhall Thistle 1

Worse was to follow at the start of the second half when Forth took the lead inside 50 seconds after a mix up in the Thistle defence. Credit to the Thistle they immediately took the game to Forth and equalised within two minutes through a well struck shot inside the penalty box by Ryan Innes. Thistle were now in control creating  chances which again they did not convert. However they took the lead with a well struck free kick from Reid giving the keeper no chance.

The game was now getting a bit tousy and the referee quite clearly was not in control of the game with players in both teams committing fouls which should have been punished. With  two minutes remaining the referee awarded Forth a penalty which to say the least was a mystery to most people in the ground Niall Reynolds tackling a Forth player in the box with both players ending up on the ground, the ball being cleared and play continuing. The referee then stopped the game, went back to the Thistle penalty box, booked Reynolds and awarded a penalty. Young David Thomson however had a magnificent save down to his right .

Three good points when we again missed numerous chances with credit to the players for fighting back from a 2-1 deficit.

On a day when everyone played their part the man of the match award goes to Graham Gracie for his outstanding work rate and involvement in the goals.

Full Time: Forth Wanderers 2 Larkhall Thistle 3

Larkhall Thistle:
D.Thomson  Reynolds, Brown, Nicholl; Payne, Kelly, Innes, Canning, Reid, Clarke, Gracie.

Subs. McKeever, Doyle, Jack, McStay, S. Thomson first game for a while when no substitutions were made.

On behalf of everyone at the club we would like to offer our sincere condolences to ex president and club sponsor Roy Gibson and his family on the passing of his mother.

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Larkhall Thistle 1 Neilston 2 – 3rd September 2016

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Neilston
Central League First Division

Thistle began their home campaign with what looked on paper to be a difficult game, although Neilston finished just above the relegation spots last season they had got off to good start this season with a defeat at Pollok being the only blip in an otherwise 100% record.

Larkhall Thistle v Neilston 3

Thistle got off to a great start after only four minutes when Graham Gracie knocked the ball into the path of David Reid who took a touch and drilled a perfect low drive past the keeper.

The pair linked up well again minutes later to set up a chance for Matty Clarke but he could only blast his shot into the side netting, and although the Jags had the majority of the early play and created some good chances, it always felt that one goal wouldn’t be enough to win the game.

Larkhall Thistle v Neilston 2

The game did indeed turn as the half went on and ten minutes before the interval young David Thomson had to pull off a tremendous save from a point blank header to keep the Jags in front.

The referee came under heavy pressure from the Neilston bench who were screaming for a penalty every time the ball went into the box but he did well to keep his cool and rightly deny the claims.

Larkhall Thistle v Neilston 1

As the half went on though it looked more and more like Thistle should have taken better advantage of their superiority to add more goals and that the visitors would do the inevitable and equalise.

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Neilston 0

The first chance of the second half came after 6 minutes when Gracie played in Reid on the left and he ran 30 yards before shooting wide, Josh Payne then made a couple of great runs down the right and produced two balls into the danger area that Innes and Reid should have done better with.

Unfortunately that was about as far as it went for Thistle on the day and the remaining 25 minutes or so belonged almost entirely to Neilston.

Larkhall Thistle v Neilston 5

The visitors created chance after chance and it looked only a matter of time before they equalised and the goal did come by way of a soft penalty award, converted after 68 minutes by Kennedy.

Hugh Kelly had surprisingly been left out for Paul Burns who was finding it impossible to keep up with the pace of the game and was taken off after an hour to be replaced by new signing Liam Mushett. The less said about the big defender the better too as he was promptly sent packing for advising the referee to go away in less subtle language.

Shug showed in the reaining 18 minutes why he should have been on from the start but with a man down Thistle were facing an uphill task to even salvage a point.

Larkhall Thistle v Neilston 4

Neilston were also reduced to 10 men late in the game when Clark was sent off for a crunching tackle on Ryan Innes but the visitors adapted better to the loss than Thistle and got the winning goal two minutes from time when a cross from the left went over Thomson and Young slid in at the back post to send the ball crashing into the roof of the net.

A great start for Thistle followed by a massive slump when they failed to build on the lead means they lost their chance to stay up with the early leaders in the league. The team is looking more settled now although there is still a bit of a weakness in defence, if Andy Brown was missing they would struggle badly and it looks like only really Hugh Kelly is capable of playing in front of a back three.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Neilston 2

Website Man of the Match: David Reid had a great first half but faded badly, Andy Brown gets it this week.

Larkhall Thistle:
D. Thomson; Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl; Payne, Canning, Burns (Mushett 60), Innes, Reid; Clarke (Kelly 72), Gracie. Subs: Stewart, McKeever, McStay

Neilston:
Digney; McDade, Geddes, Clark, Young; Stevenson, Docherty, Stoney, Cameron, Kennedy, McLachlan. Payne

Scorer: Reid

Booked: Burns, Nicholl, Kelly

Sent off: Mushett

Thorniewood United 1 Larkhall Thistle 2 – 27th August 2016

Robertson Park, Viewpark
Thorniewood United v Larkhall Thistle
Central League First Division

Thorniewood United v Larkhall Thistle

Manager Dunky Sinclair returned for the first league game of the season and brought Paul Burns with him into the team, starting him in front of the back three. New signings Stewart, Richardson and Mushett all started on the bench along with Gary McStay and Mark McKeever.

Thorniewood took the lead after eight minutes when David Reid was adjudged to have mistimed an interception at a corner and fouled the ‘Wood attacker, Lennon scored with the resultant penalty.

Thorniewood United v Larkhall Thistle 2

The Jags equalised after a quarter of an hour with a well-worked goal when Josh Payne picked up the ball just outside the box and played a one two with Graham Gracie  before finding the smallest of gaps in the bottom right corner.

Thistle got the upper hand in the game after the goal and always looked the more likely to score, with efforts from Gracie and Reid going close. They took the lead three minutes before half time when the keeper did well to save from a vicious Reid drive but then somehow managed to spill the follow up effort on to his own goal line where Matty Clarke was waiting to tap it into the net.

Half time: Thorniewood United 1 Larkhall Thistle 2

The second half got off to a lively start with the Thorniewood’s Lennon getting booked for punching the ball into the net before Thistle were denied what looked like a clear penalty when Gracie was shoved in the back as he rose to head a great cross from Reid.

Thorniewood United v Larkhall Thistle 3

The half continued in much the same vein as the first with Thistle having the bulk of the play and being the dominant side but although they created chances they had to be content with the one-goal margin.

75 minutes in Payne won the ball on the right and set off on a brilliant run, finishing with a cross right on to Clarke’s head. Matty looked like he was about to burst the net but the home keeper pulled off a great save to keep his side in the game.

Thorniewood United v Larkhall Thistle 4

Clarke was then penalised for offside although he looked to have timed his run perfectly and was booked for lobbing the ball over the keeper into the net.

The manager used all three substitutes in the closing minutes to try and run down the clock along with some other timewasting tactics but it seemed to backfire as the referee added on five extra minutes at the end and the Jags defence had to scramble hard in their own area to keep the ball out at the end.

A good start and a million miles from last season’s opening debacle at Rossvale and Thistle can now look forward to next week’s home game with Neilston.

Full time: Thorniewood United 1 Larkhall Thistle 2

Website Man of the Match: Andy Brown was outstanding in defence, especially in the first half but even his performance was overshadowed by Josh Payne who now looks a real prospect and had his best game in a Jags shirt.

Larkhall Thistle:
Thomson; Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl; Payne (Mushett 88), Canning, Burns, Innes, Reid (McKeever 80); Clarke (McStay 90), Gracie. Subs: D Thomson (GK), Rutherford, Stewart

Thorniewood United:
Connell; McShane, Hewitt, Hamilton, McIntyre; Bowie, C.Jackson, Law, S.Jackson; Lennon, Higgins

Scorers: Payne, Clarke

Booked: Clarke, Nicholl, Gracie

Royal Albert 0 Larkhall Thistle 5 – 20th August 2016

After Monday night’s shock defeat at Forth, Thistle needed to win today and if Lesmahagow also won, the Jags had to win by 4 goals more than them.

Thistle raced into an early three goal lead and looked as if they could have won by any margin they wanted to. The scoring began in the fifth minute when David Reid powered down the left wing and crossed for Ryan Innes to slide the ball in.

Five minutes later Reid repeated the run down the left but this time he went all the way himself and rolled the ball over the line. Innes then added another three minutes later after good work from Josh Payne.

Thistle had virtually all of the ball in the first half and the only real surprise was that they only managed to add one more goal. Reid again was involved, he took a corner on the right and the ball was cleared out to Gary McStay who drilled a low shot from edge of the box.

Half time: Royal Albert 0 Larkhall Thistle 4

Albert came out for the second half with a different  attitude altogether and took the game to Thistle and made much more of a game of it. They had a couple of chances in the early part of the half especially but Jags keeper Thomson wasn’t to be beaten.

Matty Clarke replaced McStay after an hour and Paul Burns came on for Canning with 12 minutes left as the Jags chased the goals they knew they needed.

The final fifteen minutes was one-way traffic towards the Albert goal as Thistle created chance after chance, Graham Gracie himself could easily have scored five but for an outstanding display from the Albert keeper.

Gracie did score the final goal minutes before full time but as it turned out it wasn’t enough to get them through. Both Thistle and Lesmahagow finished with the same points and goal difference but the Gow went through by virtue of scoring one more goal.

Full time: Royal Albert 0 Larkhall Thistle 5

Larkhall Thistle:
Thomson; Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl; Payne, Canning (Burns 78), Innes, Jack, Reid; McStay (Clarke 60), Gracie. Subs:  Doyle, Rutherford, Stewart

Scorers: Innes (2), Payne, McStay, Gracie

Booked: Canning, Gracie

Forth Wanderers 1 Larkhall Thistle 0 – 15th August 2016

This game was due to be played on Monday 22nd but was brought forward by a week. Unfortunately though the only ones who knew about the fixture change were the members of the Thistle committee so there is no report on the game.

The only information available is that Matty Clarke missed a penalty.

Full time: Forth Wanderers 1 Larkhall Thistle 0

Larkhall Thistle 2 Lesmahagow 1 – 13th August 2016

Lesmahagow came to Gasworks Park in what looked like it was probably going to be the showdown match in Section 1 but unfortunately Hugh Kelly was injured and Tam McLaughlin decided to use Paul Burns as an emergency replacement in front of the back three, a position he struggled to come to terms with. With Graham Gacie on holiday, Ryan Innes suspended and first choice keeper Stuart Thomson out it was a far from full-strength team that took to the park.

The Gow took an early lead from a corner, their centre half scoring with a header but Thistle equalised in 9 minutes when Brian Jack finished at the back post from a pass from Matty Clarke after a good move.

The Jags had the upper hand after the goal and Mark Canning was unlucky not to score with a chip from 30 yards before Clarke was through on the keeper and ballooned his shot over the bar.

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Lesmahagow 1

Trialist Craig Rutherford had a good first half but was replaced at half time by Gary McStay who came on and showed a lot of good touches and held the ball up well.

Thistle took the lead early in the second half when Josh Payne latched on to a through ball and slotted it into the corner after another good move. Minutes later the same player should have scored again but rattled the ball against the bar when it looked easier to roll it in.

As would have been expected in a keenly contested derby, Lesmahagow didn’t take the situation lying down and fought hard for an equaliser. Johnny McStay came on as a second half substitute for Gow but failed to take any of the several good chances that fell his way and Thistle defended solidly to preserve their narrow advantage until the end.

Gow’s McStay also provided a moment of real entertainment that he might want to forget with possibly the most theatrical dive ever seen at Gasworks – complete with loud wailing – the effect of which was to send both sets of fans into fits of laughter and the referee reaching for his yellow card.

With full points from their opening two games against what were at least on paper their toughest looking opponents, Thistle now look firm favourites to progress to the knock-out stages of the cup.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Lesmahagow 1

Scorers: Jack, Payne

Booked: Brown

Larkhall Thistle:
D. Thomson; Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl; Burns, Canning, Jack, McKeever (Doyle 75), Payne, Clarke, Rutherford (McStay 45). Subs Stewart