Larkhall Thistle 2 Maryhill 2 – 21st October 2017

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Maryhill
McBookie.com Super First Division

 

An early start to the rainy season saw a few junior games in the area postponed but Thistle’s game survived and if ever there was an early season game that they had to take something from this was it, home to the bottom team.

 

Liam Mushett has joined Stuart Thomson on the long-term injury list with a hamstring he picked up at Troon, Johnny McStay and Ryan Innes started on the bench which meant starts for Scott Nicholl, Gary McStay and Niall Reynolds.

 

 

The main positive to come out of what was a poor first half was that Thistle didn’t go two goals down. Gary McStay had the first clear-cut chance of the game in 15 minutes when he had time to bring the ball down and compose himself for a shot from eight yards out but he somehow mamaged to miss the target.

 

The Jags did take the lead though in 26 minutes with a penalty that was of the soft variety when Brian Jack was bundled over on the penalty spot. Mark Canning stepped up to convert, sending keeper Moore the wrong way.

 

 

If Thistle were below par, Maryhill were worse in the first half and it took them fully forty minutes to summon up their first real effort on goal, a tame shot that went past the post. The Jags could have increased their lead a minute later when Graham Gracie played a nice ball into the box for Reid to run onto, his shot beat the keeper but hit the bar.

 

Thistle ended a drab first half a goal up but there was the feeling that a single goal would not be enough.

 

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Maryhill 0

 

Captain Mark Canning failed to reappear for the second half and the loss was a blow to Thistle who missed his leadership and calmness on the ball and they lost the momentum they had built up in the first half. Maryhill made a quick start with a header that came back off the bar and it set the tone for the second half.

 

Johnny McStay replaced Graham Gracie and made an impact right away with a run down the left and a good cross into the area, unfortunately though he didn’t produce much more in the rest of the game having dipped after showing good early season promise.

 

 

Maryhill drew level with a penalty given against Scott Nicholl which was debateable at best. The foul itself was a bit soft but the main talking point was about where it took place, difficult for the referee to spot exactly where it was but saying it was borderline on the 18 yard line would be generous.

 

The penalty was a carbon copy of Thistle’s, rolling the ball into the opposite corner from the keeper’s dive. After getting one penalty, Maryhill seemed to see penalties as their best option and there followed a series of dodgy claims that the referee rightly ignored.

 

Thistle had to wait until midway through the second half before their first real chance, Nicholl hit a free kick into the wall and it fell perfectly for Gary McStay who chose to try and dink the ball over Moore rather than putting his foot through it and the keeper got down to smother his effort.

 

For the remaining 25 minutes or so though, there looked to be only one team that was going to go on and win the game with Maryhill dominating the play and chances created.

 

The visitors took the lead with eight minutes to go, a free kick on the right was swept across and missed everybody in the middle, coming right through to the back post where the Maryhill man got in front of Craig Forbes to head over Duncan into the net.

 

 

With time running out, Matty Clarke and David Reid combined to win a corner. The Hill defence didn’t get the ball clear and it fell to Innes who slammed it in from close range.

 

A minute later Innes incredibly had a golden chance to wrap up all three points when a long punt into the box was rolled into his path by Gary McStay and he was in the clear ten yards out. Unfortunately though he hit his shot straight at Moore and the chance was gone.

 

It was a game Thistle could and should have won with the chances they had, on the other hand though Maryhill will be thinking the same and a draw was probably a fair result on the day. It doesn’t get any easier for the Jags as the next two weeks sees a visit to Kilwinning for the Scottish Cup then runaway league leaders Petershill at home.

 

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Maryhill 2

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Duncan; Robb (Clarke 71), Reynolds, Nicholl; Canning (Innes 45); Payne, Forbes, Jack, Reid; G McStay, Gracie (J McStay 56). Subs: Thomson (GK), McKeever.

 

Maryhill:
Moore; Beckley, McGillion, McFarlane, Banes, Furay, Clark, Marenghi, Eaglesham, Crawford, McLarty. Subs: Owens, Mailey, Smith, Emsley, Preston

 

Scorers: Canning, Innes

 

Booked: Nicholl, Innes

 

MoM: Not much to go on today but Josh Payne plugged away and always gave 100%

 

 

Troon 5 Larkhall Thistle 2 – 7th October 2017

Portland Park, Troon
Troon v Larkhall Thistle
McBookie.com Super First Division

 

Thistle made their way to Ayrshire for the second time this season on the back of a good win at Shettleston last week. In contrast to the Jags, Troon had made a very good start to their league campaign with three wins and a draw from their five games. Scott Nicholl was unavailable due to work and Josh Payne was out injured with Craig Forbes replacing him. The team was otherwise unchanged from last week.

 

Troon started the game well and took the lead within five minutes with a well worked one-two, Scott McLean applying the finish with a low shot into the bottom corner. Troon were the better team in the opening stages and with Thistle not creating a great deal in the attacking third, it looked more likely that Troon would add to lead than the Jags would score.

 

However the Jags did start to turn the game around as the half went on and so it was a bit of a blow when Troon doubled the lead just before the half hour mark. Again it was Troon’s best player on the day McLean who did the damage with a tremendous effort from wide left that he whipped high over Duncan’s head and into the far corner of the net.

 

It was nearly first half disaster for Thistle as they survived two further close shaves just minutes later; first McLean nearly completed his hat-trick but was foiled by Duncan then from the corner Duncan pulled out a worldie from a point blank header.

 

With the customary two goal deficit in place, Larkhall were now able to get started and they set about in earnest trying to get back into the game and indeed they did give themselves a lifeline, pulling a goal back in the 36th minute. Ryan Innes won the ball in the middle of the park and slipped it to David Reid. Div then played an inch perfect ball through the centre of defence into Graham Gracie’s path and he took the ball in his stride and flicked it in off the post.

 

Thistle were nearly level before the interval when Gracie sprung forward to beat the offside trap and found himself in the clear with just the keeper to beat. A square ball would have given Johnny McStay an easy tap-in but he elected to take on the shot himself and Troon keeper McGowan pulled off a great save to preserve the home team’s lead.

 

Half time: Troon 2 Larkhall Thistle 1

 

The second half started with Thistle still on top and pressing for an equaliser and it came within ten minutes of the restart. After a spell of pressure Forbes took a corner on the right and it fell to Jags captain Mark Canning who kept up his impressive recent scoring run with a low drive from the edge of the box.

 

It was game on now and either team looked like they could go on and win it. For Thistle, Reid produced a great run and was about to shoot when he was tackled just outside the box and from that Troon broke forward. The ball went out for a Thistle throw but they lost possession and it fell to Troon’s Chatham who shaped to shoot then cut the ball back for a tap-in for McLean to make it 3-2.

 

The goal left the Jags with 14 minutes to try and get level and although the effort was there, there was a feeling that a change up front might have given the team a lift. Matty Clarke, Mark McKeever and Gary McStay were all available to try and help out Gracie.

 

Two penalty awards to Troon in the last two minutes gave the score a completely false look as there were never three goals between the teams in terms of possession, efforts on goal or ability. The first was a poor one to concede with a needless soft foul at the corner of the box and the second for a lunging tackle around the penalty spot but no real complaints about either of them as they were both technically fouls.

 

Duncan did well to get down and save the first spot kick but McCrea was first to react and he tucked away the rebound. McLean made no mistake with the second, scoring with a cheeky wee dink.

 

Very unlucky to lose by such a margin today but 13 goals conceded in the last three games gives plenty for the coaching staff to work on. So far Thistle have held their own against most teams in this league but badly need to start turning their good play and goals into wins.

 

Full time: Troon 5 Larkhall Thistle 2

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Duncan; Brown, Mushett (Robb 25), Reynolds; Canning; Forbes, Innes, Jack, Reid; J McStay, Gracie. Subs: McKeever, Doyle, Kelly, Clarke, Thomson (GK)

 

Troon:
McGowan, McCreadie, Clark, Keenan, Collins, Chatham, Paterson, McCrea, Forsyth, Murphy, McLean

 

Scorers: Gracie, Canning

 

Booked: Robb, Reynolds

 

MoM: David Reid had a very good first half but faded a bit in the second so MoM this week is Johnny Duncan who made several top-drawer saves including the penalty and has improved every week since he came into the team.