Whitletts Victoria 0 Larkhall Thistle 2 – 29th July 2017

Dam Park, Ayr
Whitletts Victoria v Larkhall Thistle
Pre-season friendly


Thistle continued their pre-season programme with a visit to Ayr to play Whitletts Vics. Whitletts had finished fourth in the Ayrshire District league last season, just outside the promotion spots and roughly equivalent to Thistle so it was going to be a good test for both teams.



The Jags started with three of their new signings on show, Billy Robb at centre half, Craig Forbes in midfield and Jonny McStay up front in a 3-5-2 formation and totally dominated the early play. Thistle could have led from shots by Graham Gracie and Brian Jack from almost identical spots on the left side.


Whitletts should have scored themselves though with their first real break out of defence when they beat the offside trap with a burst down the left wing and a cross for an easy tap in that was somehow put past the post.



Larkhall took the lead they deserved in 25 minutes when Robb won the ball and gave it to Forbes who ran at the middle of the defence before slipping the ball right to Gracie whose low sort across the keeper found the bottom corner.


Vics came more into the game in the last fifteen minutes of the half and hit the bar with a curling shot from outside the box, however the rest of half was characterised by some very sloppy passing from both sides that stand-in Larkhall manager Tam McLaughlin would have been keen to cut out in the second period.


Half Time: Whittlets Victoria 0 Larkhall Thistle 1


Thistle had a strong looking bench that shows a good depth to the squad and made four substitutions early in the second half. Crowd-pleaser Scott Nicholl swapped places with Niall Reynolds as he has done in most of the friendly games and gave the team more of an attacking option down the left side.


The second half carried on where the first had left off with the Jags having the lion’s share of possession but the home side looking threatening on the odd break they manged to carve out.



Whitletts almost took the lead just after the hour mark when they hit the post and from the resulting break of the ball managed to bring out an excellent save from Jags keeper Thomson.


Thistle’s Brian Jack went close in the 73rd minute with a shot from the edge of the box from a knock-down by Matty Clarke after Jag’s best move of the game but they did get a second six minutes from time when Gracie latched on to a loose ball and lobbed the keeper.


Full Time: Whittlets Victoria 0 Larkhall Thistle 2


Another good result for Thistle that should keep the confidence levels high going into the season, let’s hope they can keep the winning habit going when the serious stuff starts.


Larkhall Thistle:
Thomson; Brown, Robb, Reynolds (Nicholl 55); McKeever (Doyle 55), Forbes, G.McStay (Mushett 60), Jack, Reid; J McStay (Clarke 60), Gracie.


New Signing

Thistle have signed ex Cumbernauld United and Clyde defender Billy Robb after two successful appearances against Rutherglen Glencairn and Abbey Vale.. Welcome to Scotland’s oldest junior club Billy.

Larkhall Thistle 2 Rutherglen Glencairn 1 – 16th July 2017

Valefield Park, Kilbirnie
Larkhall Thistle v Rutherglen Glencairn
Kilbirnie Ladeside tournament 2017



Glencairn kicked off this tournament in the first game yesterday with a 2-1 win against a young Stranraer side before Thistle beat the hosts Kilbirnie in the second game to set up today’s final.


Thistle started the game looking full of confidence after their big win yesterday and almost took the lead in second minute when Graham Gracie and Jonny McStay combined to set up Mask McKeever for a shot that the keeper did well to save.


After a period of early Larkhall domination, Glencairn slowly came into the game and were unlucky not to score when they hit the post after a good move.


Thistle got the lead that their play had deserved when Garry McStay did well to win a high ball and get it under control before it broke to Johnny McStay who hit it low into the net off the keeper.


The Jags thought they had made it 2-0 three minutes later with Johnny McStay involved again, this time linking up with Brian Jack before finishing well but he was adjudged to be offside


Glencairn looked certain to equalise on the half hour mark but Jags keeper Thomson pulled off a great save from the close range bullet header to keep Larkhall ahead at the interval.


Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Rutherglen Glencairn 0


Thistle manager Dunky Sinclair made the first of five second half substitutions when he brought on Scott Nicholl for Niall Reynolds. Glencairn found an equaliser eight minutes into the half when a cross from the left wing drifted high over Thomson and looped down into the net, the Rutherglen man will of course claim he meant it as a shot!


Further Jags changes came in the way of Ryan Innes for Mark Canning, Liam Mushett replacing Andy Brown then new right back trialist Billy Robb replacing Declan Doyle. The changes, along with the effort the team had put in the day before, made it hard for them to get any real rythm going and the second half was a bit scrappy.


Thistle got the winner though fifteen minutes from time and it was half defensive howler but half great pressing and opportunism from Jonny McStay. He latched on to a sloppy pass out from the keeper to intercept it and slot the ball home leaving the Glens fans up in arms at the error.


The Jags closed out the game and there was no further scoring despite a couple of half decent chances for both sides.



Jonny McStay was deservedly awarded the Player of the Tournament and few if any who watched the games would disagree with the decision.


Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Rutherglen Glencairn 1


A great weekend’s work for Thistle with the added bonus of a trophy on the board, the team looks like it’s taking shape very nicely with fitness levels already at a very good level. The main problem as it stands for the manger is how to fit all of the players into the team, there looks like some real selection headaches coming up for Dunky.


Larkhall Thistle:
Thomson; Reynolds (Nicholl 45), Brown (Mushett 60), Doyle (Robb 65); Canning (Innes 53); McKeever (Thomson 80), G.McStay, Jack, Reid; J McStay, Gracie.


Kilbirnie Ladeside 1 Larkhall Thistle 7 – 15th July 2017

Valefield Park, Kilbirnie
Kilbirnie Ladeside v Larkhall Thistle
Kilbirnie Ladeside tournament 2017


Thistle started their pre-season with what looked like it could be their most difficult game, away to Premier team Kilbirnie Ladeside. The team started on familiar lines with the addition of new signings Jonny McStay and Craig Forbes who made their debuts.



The Jags got off to a nightmare start when keeper Stewart Thomson miskicked and the home team took full advantage to go a goal up inside two minutes. Kilbirnie were nippy and fast and put the pressure on early in the game but once Thistle found their feet there was really only one team in it.


Thistle equalised after 21 minutes from an own goal, Graham Gracie swung in a good ball from the left and the Kilbirnie defender gave his keeper no chance with a header and they took the lead in 32 minutes when Liam Mushett tapped in from close range following a David Reid corner.



Things started to look bad for Kilbirnie when Reid added to the lead a minute later with a speculative effort from 25 yards that squirmed through the keeper’s hands and they must have feared the worst when Johnny McStay latched onto a though ball to run in and stroke it low into the net just on the half time whistle.


Half Time: Kilbirnie Ladeside 1 Larkhall Thistle 4


Kilbirnie have apparently had their problems with the manager and players leaving but they would have expected a bit of a revival in the second half, instead of that though it was Thistle who piled on the goals to produce what was a shock result – even given the fact it was a friendly tournament.



Forbes opened his Jags account just after the break with a tap-in after quick thinking from Mark Canning as he put an early free kick into the box.


As the rain battered down on a typical fair Saturday, the Kilbirnie fans were slipping out and matters got worse for them as McStay showed all his power and pace to latch onto a short back pass and convert.


Graham Gracie always likes a goal and was feeling very left out as his team mates racked up six of them but he got his eventually as his hard work was rewarded when he got on the end of a long ball and went past the keeper to complete the rout.

Full Time: Kilbirnie Ladeside 1 Larkhall Thistle 7


Very promising start from Thistle and signs of what might be a good partnership up front between Gracie and McStay but we’ll see how they fare in the final in what will be a good indication of where they are against another team from the Super League first division.


Larkhall Thistle:
Thomson; Reynolds (Brown 70), Mushett, Nicholl; Canning; Forbes (McKeever 60), Innes (G.McStay 45) Jack, Reid (D.Thomson 75); J McStay, Gracie.