There are some “high”lights of last night’s game available:
Newlandsfield Park, Glasgow
Pollok v Larkhall Thistle
Euroscot Eng Central League Cup semi-final
Thistle were bidding to reach their first cup final since they played Bellshill in the 2001 Sectional League Cup and it looked on paper to be a monumental task, against the Scottish Cup finalists and Superleague Premier Division fifth-place finishers. The Jags lined up with no changes from last week’s win in Rutherglen – although Paul Burns was available and started on the bench.
The game started at a fast pace with both sides looking to get forward but it was Pollok who took the lead with what was the game’s first effort on goal. A simple cross from the right found Winters unmarked six yards out in the middle of the goal and he swept the ball in with ease.
Thistle had a hopeful penalty claim turned down a minute later when Gracie went down too easily and Pollok went right up the park and nearly doubled their lead with a shot across goal that went just past the post.
Thistle got their first shot away after 13 minutes when Matty Clarke fired wide from a Graham Gracie lay-off and three minutes later Gracie ran on to a return from Brian Jack and sprinted in on goal, only to turn back when closed down rather than try the early shot.
There was no sign of the early pace letting up but the pressure was nearly all in the direction of the Jags goal with only the occasional breakaway providing some relief in the heat. Twenty five minutes into the game Thistle could have considered themselves lucky to still be in the game when Pollok went close after an intricate piece of play.
The Jags however showed they weren’t going to go quietly when David Reid got himself into the game, first forcing keeper Longmuir to scramble the ball off the line, then to get down and make a good reflex save at his near post from a whipped-in shot.
Stewart Thomson in the Jags goal produced a brilliant save 10 minutes before half-time from a curled effort that was struck from the edge of the box – it was the home side’s last chance of the half and Thistle forced a couple of corners just before the interval as they fought hard to get back on level terms but couldn’t capitalise on them.
Half time: Pollok 1 Larkhall Thistle 0
Larkhall began the second half brightly, with early efforts from Scott Nicholl and Reid which were off target, however Jordan Marshall was lucky when a misjudged attempt to beat an opponent on the halfway line left him exposed. The referee saw the tackle as a foul with the Pollok man clear with a run on goal.
As it was in the first half though, it was Pollok who got the early goal. This time it was through Hepburn from an overhead kick eight yards out after the Thistle defence had failed to clear.
Fifteen minutes into the half it was all over for the Jags as Pollok produced the best move of the game. A ball down the right channel was met and swept across the six yard area leaving McCabe with an easy tap in at the back post for 3-0.
Midway through the second half Thistle won a free kick 25 yards out when Gracie was brought down but his effort was well over the bar. It was a rare break though as Pollok continued to force the game and they went straight up the park and brought out another great save from Thomson.
The keeper looked to be struggling with a knock five minutes later but he stayed on before eventually being replaced by namesake David who managed one excellent save himself.
Substitutes Burns and Doyle replaced Nicholl and Payne after 75 minutes and moments later Gracie combined well with Reid on the left before hitting a shot that the keeper could only parry on to the goal line, unfortunately there was nobody following up for what would have been a certain goal.
With five minutes left Pollok made it 4-0 – a precise curled effort into the top left corner from Monti. Thistle nearly got a late consolation when Reid set up Gracie but his low effort hit the post.
A resolute first half performance by the Jags kept the score down to 1-0 but in truth it could easily have been 4-0 at half time and the final score more or less reflected the gulf between the teams – Pollok were fitter, faster and trickier as could be expected from a team challenging at the top end of the junior game.
Full time: Pollok 4 Larkhall Thistle 0
Larkhall Thistle: S Thomson; Reynolds, Marshall, Brown, Nicholl; Jack, Innes, Payne, Reid; Gracie, Clarke Subs: D Thomson GK, McKeever, Doyle
Pollok: Longmuir, Hanlon, McCabe, McLennan, Sideserf; MacKenzie, Frye, Bradley, Winters, Hepburn, Winters
Website MoM: Almost as difficult as last week but sadly for the opposite reason, the team never got going as a whole although nobody could have been faulted for effort and commitment. Keeper Stewart Thomson though made several very good saves and couldn’t have been faulted for any of the goals so he gets the final MoM of the season.
Clyde Gateway Stadium, Rutherglen
Rutherglen Glencairn v Larkhall Thistle
Euroscot Eng Central League Cup
Thistle made their second visit to the Clyde Gateway Stadium in Rutherglen in what might have been their last game of the season. The stadium is probably the pick of the new built junior parks as it at least is a grass playing surface but it does have a slope and the Jags started the game kicking up it.
Only Ryan Innes was missing from what would probably have been the first choice team, Hugh Kelly started in his place in centre midfield. Glencairn had former Thistle player Brian Eadie at left back and it was good to see him back fit and well.
The game started with Glencairn pressing the Jags goal and the first chance of the game came after seven minutes when David Reid sliced the ball high into the air and it was met on the volley, the shot going wide. Larkhall should have taken the lead in 11 minutes when Matty Clarke squared to Brian Jack in acres of space only 8 yards out but he over-deliberated and curled his shot wide. Clarke was involved again when he laid the ball right onto Josh Payne’s head in the same spot but again the chance went begging.
Thistle took the lead in 31 minutes when Graham Gracie latched on to a knock-on and broke free. The striker, on a great scoring run, never looked in danger of missing and slotted easily inside the left post from 10 yards. Just before half time Jack sent Gracie away again and after some nice footwork he played it back to Jacko who again shot wide from the same spot as he had earlier.
Half time: Glencairn 0 Larkhall Thistle 1
Glencairn got off to a quick start and a break in the first minute nearly caught the Thistle defence out, only desperate defending resulting in strong penalty claims prevented the goal. The Jags replied immediately, Payne ran on to a pinpoint lobbed pass from Clarke and played the ball across the box just too close to the keeper for Gracie to reach.
Thistle’s next real attempt at goal came after 62 minutes when Scott Nicholl almost caught the keeper out from a free kick with a cheeky lob and that was followed up by Payne hitting a decent effort across the keeper from the edge of the box.
The Jags had a let-off midway through the half when an attempted clearance came back off the bar, then the Glens No 6 had a great run through the middle with a shot that went just past the post.
Reid picked up another needless booking to cap a disappointing evening for him and could well have got himself sent off for a petulant foul moments later.
Glencairn equalised from a disputed free kick ten minutes from the end, Thomson made a good stop but the rebound was poked home by Dunnachie. It looked like it was game on and with the distinct possibility of penalties looming, Thistle were awarded a penalty for handball that the referee spotted though a clump of players.
Gracie stepped up and coolly rolled the ball into the net to put the Jags back in front. Matty Clarke had a golden opportunity to seal the tie when he got possession with the keeper stranded out of his goal, however he decided not to take the shot on and the chance was lost.
A great win for Thistle that puts them into a semi-final for the first time in a long while, on the back of a long unbeaten end to the season. They will now travel to Pollok in what looks to be a real test but hopefully the Jags can carry on the good work.
Full time: Glencairn 1 Larkhall Thistle 2
Scorer: Gracie 2
Booked: Nicholl, Reid, Clarke, Gracie
S Thomson; Reynolds, Marshall, Brown, Nicholl; Jack, Innes, Payne, Reid; Gracie, Clarke. Subs: D Thomson (GK), McKeever, Doyle
Website MoM:A very difficult task tonight with seven or eight players at or near their best, the whole defence was excellent and Josh Payne impressed again but Matty Clarke did a great job all night of holding the ball up and playing his team mates in, as well as delivering all Thistle’s best balls in an attacking sense.
Thistle have been drawn away to Rutherglen Glencairn in the Euroscot Eng Quarter final.
The game will be played next Wednesday 1st June at 7:30pm.
There are some clips of the game from last Monday uploaded to Youtube, unfortunately the Albert strike for the goal was too fast for the cameraman but Graham Gracie’s goal and the penalties are there.
Thistle were drawn at home to local rivals Royal Albert in the 2nd round of the Central League Cup, always a difficult game. Let’s hope it is played on a Saturday but it’s more than likely to be midweek.
Whoever is victorious play the winners of St. Rochs/Blantyre Vics in the 3rd Round. No doubt where we want to go to next if we beat our neighbours!
Thistle made the short trip to Viewpark for the second round of the last remaining cup competition that they had to play in, a dour struggle lacking in any real quality but the situation wasn’t helped any by the terrible playing surface.
The club are delighted to announce that the Euroscot Eng Cup final between Cumbernauld United and Blantyre Victoria will take place on Sunday 2nd November at Gasworks Park, kick off 2:30pm.
The club would like to thank the West Region of the SJFA for selecting our ground to host this final. The date is subject to change should either of the finalists draw in their Scottish Cup ties the previous Saturday, which would mean a replay on 1st November.
Thistle made their first visit to Dunterlie Park since the teams were both in the Super League Premier Division in season 2005/2006 and came away on the wrong end of a scoreline that more than flattered the home team.
Today’s game with Arthurlie at Dunterlie Park in the First Round of Euroscot Eng Central League Cup has escaped the weather and goes ahead, kick off 1:45.