Friendly – Larkhall Thistle 3 Darvel 4

Thistle continued their pre-season friendly programme with another fixture that has become a regular annual event, this year it was the Jags turn to host Darvel.

Darvel took the lead after 6 minutes when a failure to clear the ball allowed their No.5 time to pick his spot for an easy finish from 10 yards.

Thistle made an early first half substitution when Gary McStay came on for the injured Niall Reynolds with Declan Doyle dropping back into the back three. The move was to pay dividends right away as McStay grabbed a quick-fire hat-trick, the first being the pick of the bunch when he took time to compose himself and pick his spot after good work from Doyle on the right.

The visitors got themselves back into the game with a goal before half time, a free header from a corner after the Darvel player had made a good run into the box.

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Darvel 2

Darvel equalised just after half time with a breakaway goal that caught the defence out, Thistle were caught remonstrating with the referee after McStay had gone down in the box looking for a penalty.

The two teams were evenly matched and a draw looked to be on the cards until Scott Nicholl got involved with three Darvel players at the stand side touchline and received a second booking, the first had been for a bad tackle that could have been a red on its own.

Thistle brought on a couple of youngsters for the last 15 minutes and both showed up very well, looking like a real threat to the Darvel defence but with the extra man the visitors got the decisive break at the end and wrapped up the win with yet another goal from a corner.

After scoring seven in each of the last two matches, this was a far more difficult test for the Jags and one they will have learned a fair bit from.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Darvel 4

Scorer: McStay (3)

Larkhall Thistle:
Thomson; Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl; Kelly, Doyle, Canning, Innes, McKeever, Reid, Clarke. Subs Moss, McStay, Gracie, Trialists

Friendly – Larkhall Thistle 7 Abbey Vale 1

Optimized-Tommy's father presents trophy to Mark Canning Thistle welcomed Abbey Vale for what has now become a regular fixture in the pre-season calendar, this time though the clubs were playing for the inaugural Tommy Jamieson Memorial Cup, in memory of local man Tommy who had strong ties with both clubs.

With the exception of the goalkeeper – where Lee Moss once again stood in and played very well – Larkhall had what was probably their strongest starting team out so it was a good chance to see how they played together before the start of the competitive fixtures.

Two goals in the first three minutes from Matty Clarke gave Thistle the perfect start and looked to be a sign of things to come. The Jags went 3-0 up in under 10 minutes when Scott Nicholl swung a great cross onto Josh Payne’s head and he fired into the corner.

David Reid then made it four midway through the half with a low drive after the keeper had saved the initial shot and Clarke rounded off the first half scoring to complete his hat trick.

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 5 Abbey Vale 0

Hugh Kelly started the half in place of Ryan Innes in the centre of midfield and despite the big lead there was no letting up and some strong words from the manager at the early missed chances.

McKeever, Doyle and trialist Liam Mushett came on for Payne, Clarke and Reynolds after an hour but it took Thistle nearly 20 minutes of the second half to add to the lead when Reid finished after good work by Gracie on the left.

Mushett made it 7-0 when Brian Jack hit him with a cross from the byeline but Abbey Vale pulled a goal back right away with a free header from a corner.

A good show from Thistle and some very good passing moves and a scoreline that could easily have reached double figures with a bit more clinical finishing, especially in the second half.

Optimized-Thistle and Abbey Vale

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 7 Abbey Vale 1

Scorers: Clarke (3), Payne, Reid (2), Mushett

Larkhall Thistle:
Moss; Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl; Payne, Innes, Jack, Canning, Reid, Gracie, Clarke. Subs: Kelly, McKeever, Doyle, Mushett

Abbey Vale:
Holt; Ruddick, Edgar, Connelly, Love, Cameron, Telfer, Kennedy, Kerr, Thom, Malin. Subs: Mellon, Pirrie, Turner

Friendly – Larkhall Thistle 7 Motherwell Amateurs 0

Thistle continued their pre-season with a confidence-building win against local amateur side Motherwell. Seven goals was just about a true reflection of the difference between the sides but the visitors competed well and would also have benefitted from testing themselves against a team at a higher level.

Scott Nicholl got the ball rolling in the second minute with a low shot after a good passing move and Graham Gracie doubled the lead ten minutes later after a mix up in defence left him with a free shot from 8 yards.

The Jags were not without their own defensive lapses in the first half and Motherwell might have got on the scoresheet on a couple of occasions but Burns did well at the other end of the park five minutes before half time when he set up Ryan Innes for a good right foot finish into the bottom corner.

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Motherwell Amateurs 0

Despite a rousing half time talk from the Motherwell coach, the second half was even more one-sided as the visitors ran out of steam and Thistle piled on the goals.

Josh Payne, Matty Clarke and Brian Jack all came on at half time in place of Innes, Burns and Doyle and in the reshuffle Scott Nicholl moved to left back which gave the defence a lot more stability and pace.

With the changes the team took a bit of time to settle and although they played well and kept the ball the vast majority of the time, it took until the 80th minute before Clarke made it 4-0 with a dribble and fierce finish

Innes then got on the end of a cut back following a great run down the left from Payne and Clarke put the gloss on the scoreline with two late goals.

Well done to Thistle stalwart Lee Moss who came out of retirement to help out in goals tonight and found himself in the unique position of playing for both sides. After being substituted by regular keeper Stuart Thomson and the Motherwell goalie going off injured, Lee stepped in to finish the game for Motherwell and performed well for both sides.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 7 Motherwell Amateurs 0

Scorers: Nicholl, Gracie, Innes (2), Clarke (3)

Larkhall Thistle:
Moss, Brown, Reynolds, Burns; Nicholl, Kelly, Canning, Innes, Doyle; Reid, Gracie. Rolling subs: S Thomson, Jack, Payne, Clarke, Mushett

Friendly – Backburn Utd 3 Larkhall Thistle 2

Blackburn United’s New Murrayfield Park is one of the better new community facilities in that it actually manages to feel like a football ground and the surface itself looks excellent.

Jordan Marshall’s departure to Glencairn meant Jags manager Dunky Sinclair looked to be trying out a new 3-1-4-2 system for the first friendly of the season – with Hugh Kelly sitting in front of a back three of Burns, Reynolds and Brown.

The game was played at a lively pace with both teams looking more or less ready to go for the new season in terms of fitness but Thistle went behind early on and found themselves 2-1 down with Brian Jack getting the Jags goal.

Thistle dominated possession in the latter stages of the first half but fell further behind after defensive slackness let the home side in to score a third.

Half time: Blackburn United 3 Larkhall Thistle 1

Graham Gracie pulled an early goal back for Thistle after great work from Ryan Innes who won the ball and fired in a shot that the keeper could only parry.

The Jags continued to press for the rest of the game and had a couple of half chances that might have produced an equaliser but in the end it didn’t come and the home side came away with a result that the play didn’t entirely justify.

On the positive side Mark Canning made a return after his long enforced layoff and looked like he’d never been away, he lasted the pace very well and showed he can still ping a pass with most in the junior game.

Full time: Blackburn United 3 Larkhall Thistle 2

Scorers: Jack, Gracie

Larkhall Thistle (rolling subs):
S Thomson, Brown, Reynolds, Burns; Kelly, McKeever, Jack, Canning, Innes, Nicholl, Doyle; Reid, Gracie.