Dam Park, Ayr
Whitletts Victoria v Larkhall Thistle
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.
Thomson; Brown, Robb, Reynolds (Nicholl 55); McKeever (Doyle 55), Forbes, G.McStay (Mushett 60), Jack, Reid; J McStay (Clarke 60), Gracie.