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

Larkhall Thistle 3 Lanark United 1 – 10th August 2016

The new season got underway at the second time of asking after Saturday’s bizarre postponement and the game got off to exactly the start Thistle would have wanted when they took the lead in the second minute.

Scott Nicholl swung a ball from left back over to Graham Gracie on the right wing, he went past his man and crossed for Matty Clarke to head in at the back post.

The lead was short-lived however as Lanark drew level when Jags keeper Thomson fumbled an attempted catch and Maxwell passed the ball into the empty net.

Lanark looked the sharper of the two teams and were unlucky not to take the lead on a couple of occasions in a first half that they largely dominated. Thistle on the other hand found it hard to get going and didn’t create much in terms of clear chances.

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Lanark United 1

The Jags almost replicated their start to the first half when Clarke sent Gracie clear in the first move of the half but he choked his effort and shot wide past the post.

Thistle took the lead again 13 minutes into the half with the kind of football that had been totally lacking in the first. Gracie took the ball just inside the opposition half and played in Clarke on the left, he held it up and picked out Mark McKeever’s overlapping run which ended with a cross to the back post that Mark Canning met on the run and slotted in.

Lanark should have equalised with a similar chance shortly after but Gallagher forgot to have the shot and missed the ball altogether. Matty Clarke then produced a moment of quality when he took the ball past a couple of defenders just outside the box and curled a dipping shot that came back off the bar.

Acting manager Tam McLaughlin made a double substitution with 20 minutes to go, Clarke and Stewart replaced by Doyle and Rutherford and five minutes later he made the final change when Paul Burns replaced Hugh Kelly.

Lanark pressed hard in the last 15 minutes for an equaliser but some good defending and good luck kept them out. It was Thistle who tied the game up with a third goal five minutes from the end, Gracie knocked the ball down into the path of Rutherford and he set up Brian Jack who found the bottom corner with a low drive.

A good second half performance by the Jags who took their chances where the visitors failed to capitalise on theirs.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Lanark United 1

Scorers: Clarke, Canning, Jack

Booked: Canning

Larkhall Thistle:
Thomson; Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl; Kelly (Burns 75), Stewart (Doyle 70), Canning, Jack McKeever, Gracie, Clarke (Rutherford 70). Subs Thomson (GK), Payne

Lanark United:
Brown; Christie, Murphy, Lawson, Collins, Imrie, Maxwell, McCrum, Gallgher, Duggan, McGurk. Subs: O’Connell, Kearney, Brown