Robertson Park, Viewpark
Thorniewood United v Larkhall Thistle
Central League First Division
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thomson; Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl; Payne (Mushett 88), Canning, Burns, Innes, Reid (McKeever 80); Clarke (McStay 90), Gracie. Subs: D Thomson (GK), Rutherford, Stewart
Connell; McShane, Hewitt, Hamilton, McIntyre; Bowie, C.Jackson, Law, S.Jackson; Lennon, Higgins
Scorers: Payne, Clarke
Booked: Clarke, Nicholl, Gracie