Darvel 3 Larkhall Thistle 1 – 19th August 2017

Recreation Park, Darvel
Darvel v Larkhall Thistle
McBookie.com Super First Division

 

Thistle made their way to Ayrshire for their first game in the Super League for eight years, after their previous brief visit to the First Division on the way down the leagues. Darvel is a familiar ground in recent years with the Jags playing there in pre-season friendlies and they have just been promoted from the regional division like Thistle. Darvel won the Ayrshire District League last season and were given a round of applause by the Thistle players as they unfurled the league champions flag before the game.

 

After a bitterly disappointing exit from the Sectional League Cup in midweek, the Jags were looking to get off to a flyer with a game that should have been one in the winnable category. The Thistle squad had been bolstered with some good pre-season signings and the three main ones started the game today, Jonny McStay, Craig Forbes and Billy Robb.

 

Darvel started the game well and were on the attack early on. There were worrying early signs of what was to come when it got to the five minute point before Thistle even managed out of their own half and the first half was a dour, scrappy affair played in a strong wind that Thistle were shooting into. The game descended almost into farce as rain of biblical proportions battered down halfway through and as the players skidded and slipped around on the wet surface there was little football played at all.

 

 

Darvel did hit the bar midway through and had an attempt ruled out for offside, while Thistle’s best effort was a good hit from Graham Gracie that brought out a diving save from the home keeper.

 

Darvel could have taken the lead just before the break when the came close with a triple effort, the first shot coming off the bar then the rebound bringing out the save of the match from Thomson as he flung himself to his left to keep out a viscious drive, the rebound was fired in once more but flew across the face of the goal and wide.

 

Half time: Darvel 0 Larkhall Thistle 0

 

The second half started with a break in the weather that let the players actually play a bit of football but unfortunately for the Jags it was mostly coming from the home team. Darvel took the lead in the 6th minute of the second half when the referee ignored what looked like a blatant free kick to Larkhall, the ball then played across the box to Henderson who gave Jags keeper Thomson no chance with a well placed drive into the top corner.

 

Three minutes later it went from bad to worse as the lead was doubled when Armour was put clean through and hit a low shot that went under Thomson.

 

It took until they were two goals behind for Thistle to react and get themselves back into the game and in fairness they battled well and produced their best spell of the game. They could have had a goal back midway through the half when the Darvel defence failed to clear their lines and the ball bobbled about in the box but the Jags just couldn’t get a shot through the crowd.

 

Darvel should have scored again when the centre was put clean though and just had to pick his spot, unfortunately for him the spot he picked was a yard wide of the goal but they did put a seal on proceedings when they wrapped up the game with a third goal ten minutes from time. A cross in from the right wasn’t defended properly, Davidson found himself in acres of space and rolled the ball into the corner.

 

 

Thistle pulled back a consolation goal with a minute of normal time left with what was a very good, if ultimately meaningless goal. Thomson kicked long and the defender’s clearance only went as far as Forbes on the right wing, he charged forward and played the ball into the six yard area where McStay ran onto it and took it in his stride to slot it in at the near post.

 

A rude awakening for Thistle as they were handed a stark introduction as to what they can expect from life in the Super League. There are no easy games ahead of them and any points won in this division will be hard fought.

 

Full time: Darvel 3 Larkhall Thistle 1

 

Larkhall Thistle: Thomson; Robb, Reynolds, Nicholl; Jack; Payne, Forbes, Innes, Reid; J McStay, Gracie. Subs: Brown, Clarke, Mushett, Duncan (GK)

 

Scorers: J McStay

 

Booked: Nicholl, Gracie

 

MoM: Not much to work with today, Scott Nicholl did well apart from one or two rash moments but Josh Payne was always lively and willing and gets MoM this week.

 

Video highlights below:

 

 

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

Pollok 4 Larkhall Thistle 0 – 8th June 2016

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.

Pollok v Larkhall Thistle 8th June -3

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.

Pollok v Larkhall Thistle 8th June -1

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.

Pollok v Larkhall Thistle 8th June -2

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.

Pollok v Larkhall Thistle 8th June -4

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

Booked: Nicholl

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.

Rutherglen Glencairn 1 Larkhall Thistle 2 – 1st June 2016

Clyde Gateway Stadium, Rutherglen
Rutherglen Glencairn v Larkhall Thistle
Euroscot Eng Central League Cup

Rutherglen Glengairn 1 Larkhall Thistle 2 - 2

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.

Rutherglen Glengairn 1 Larkhall Thistle 2 - 4

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.

Rutherglen Glengairn 1 Larkhall Thistle 2 - 1

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.

Rutherglen Glengairn 1 Larkhall Thistle 2 - 5

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.

Rutherglen Glengairn 1 Larkhall Thistle 2 - 3

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.

Dunipace v Larkhall Thistle, Central League First Division

Dunipace v Larkhall Thistle 7th May 2016 -1
For everybody connected with Thistle, today’s fixture was overshadowed by the news of committee man and lifelong fan Hugh Kerr being admitted to intensive care. It goes without saying that everybody is hoping for a full recovery and to see a man held in the highest affection by all, back fit and well and supporting the Jags.

As for the game, Dunipace went into it on the back of an 8-1 drubbing at Wishaw whilst Thistle had conceded seven goals in the last two games, so this never looked like defences were going to be on top.

Read the match report of Dunipace v Thistle here

Renfrew v Larkhall Thistle, Central League First Division

5

Thistle made their first visit to Renfrew’s new ground, another fine old junior stadium gone and replaced by a soulless astroturf community facility on the edge of a retail park. It’s all about survival though and Renfrew have secured their future for a few years at least even though the only familiar thing was the sight of the planes taking off and landing.

Read the match report of Renfrew v Thistle here

Neilston v Larkhall Thistle, Central League First Division

summary

There was some late season snow in Neilston as the two teams fought out a tightly contested game with little frills or much to satisfy the purists.

Read the match report of Neilston v Thistle here