Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Johnstone Burgh
Central League First Division
After last week’s disappointing exit out of the West of Scotland Cup, Thistle looked to bounce back and keep their league challenge on track.
As they have done for most of the season, the Jags controlled most of the early part of the game and created a couple of good chances, two David Reid crosses in quick succession from the left almost produced goals – firstly from a Johnstone Burgh player who was lucky to deflect the ball off the post and not into the goal, then from a Hugh Kelly header from point-blank range that keeper Kelly did brilliantly to save.
What should have been the turning point of the game came midway through the half when Brian Jack lunged into a tackle from behind after having just been booked, he was duly sent packing and Thistle had 70+ minutes to try and see out with ten men.
Larkhall were forced into a change shortly after when Gary McStay hobbled off to be replaced by Hugh Kelly, a change that might have been going to take place anyway to cope with the man disadvantage.
Burgh couldn’t take advantage of the extra man though and although there were good chances at both ends, somehow the teams got to half time goalless.
Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Johnstone Burgh 0
Johnstone were first to show in the second half and they scored within three minutes of the restart with a goal that the Jags players must have been very disappointed to lose. Mark McKeever couldn’t prevent winger Fitzpatrick from getting his cross in after some fancy footwork on the left and it was met with a free header in the middle that keeper Thomson got a hand to but probably would have felt he should have kept out.
The fact that Thistle were a man down didn’t seem to have any effect at all on the game and they kept up the onslaught on the Burgh goal all the way through the second half. The pressure produced an equaliser ten minutes into the half with a cracking strike from Mark Canning that rivals Niall Reynolds overhead kick for goal of the season at Gasworks.
The main criticisms of the team this season have been the failure to convert enough of the chances they create and not being able to hold on to a lead. The first one was certainly true today and it could have easily been five or six before Ryan Innes hit the winner with a low drive across the keeper.
They did however manage to hold on to the lead this time and get the win. Both teams had some great chances with Liam Mushett heading over the bar from six yards and keeper Kelly having a couple of great saves.
As the game drew to a close, Johnstone pressed hard for a winner but some great defending kept them at bay and Thistle held on for the win that they deserved.
Full time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Johnstone Burgh 1
Website man of the match:
Ryan Innes who dug in brilliantly. His energy made up for the man short in midfield, topped by the winning goal.
S. Thomson; Brown, Mushett, Reynolds; McKeever (Doyle 87), Jack, Canning, Innes, Reid; Gracie, McStay (Kelly 27). Subs: Payne, D. Thomson (GK)
Kelly; McCormick, Nugent, Perrie, Carson; Usher, McIntyre, McBride Hewitt, Docherty, McGonigal, Fitzpatrick. Subs: Gaddi, Ramsay, McStay, Wilson (GK)
Scorers: Canning, Innes
Booked: Gracie, Sent off: Jack
Video highlights below