Larkhall Thistle 4 Rutherglen Glencairn 5 – 16th September 2017

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Rutherglen Glencairn
McBookie.com Super First Division

 

Thistle went into the fourth home league game in a row having picked up just one win so far and whilst it is too early to be talking about must-win games, Glencairn were in a similar position near the foot of the table and a win for either team would have given them a big lift.

 

The manager made two changes from last week’s starting line-up with Graham Gracie and Billy Robb replacing Josh Payne and Liam Mushett. Mark McKeever switched from striker to a wide role in place of Payne with Gracie taking up position up front. The absence of Payne and David Reid made a big difference to the game for the Jags as they lacked any real pace down the wings and were missing crosses into the middle for the two big strikers.

 

After the early exchanges where both sides had a couple of half chances, Thistle took the lead in the 18th minute from the penalty spot. Criag Forbes went into what looked to be a 50-50 challenge with a Glencairn defender but was judged to have been fouled, Mark Canning sent the keeper the wrong way for his first goal of the day.

 

 

The Glens players and especially the highly excitable coaching staff were aggrieved by the decision to say the least and were probably spurred on by their sense of injustice to level the game a minute later from a quick breakaway down the left wing, a cross to the back post and a great volley from McNab that Duncan got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.

 

Undaunted by the setback, Thistle set about regaining the lead and got it from a great strike by Canning. Johnny McStay laid the ball back to him just outside the box and he swept it first time high into the net. It looked like Larkhall were going to see out the half and go into the interval ahead but right on the stroke of half-time Gormley was put through and finished well for the equaliser.

 

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Rutherglen Glencairn 2

 

Thistle took the lead for the third time sixteen minutes into the second half when Scott Nicholl picked up the ball from Gracie and instead of playing the one-two, swung it into the box right onto Canning in the centre-forward position. The skipper took one touch to control it with his right foot and another to slot it past the helpless keeper to complete his hat-trick. Again though the lead wasn’t to last long, a cross from the left wing position looked like it might be dropping into the top corner of the goal but Rutherglen’s McNab followed it in for a close range header that gave Duncan no chance.

 

The Jags scored what looked like it might be the winner in the 73rd minute. Craig Forbes picked up the ball in the middle of the park and played it wide out to Matty Clarke on the left wing. He took the ball for a run and played it across the six yard area, it was missed by everybody and landed perfectly for Johnny McStay at the back post who had an easy tap-in.

 

 

Incredibly however the lead lasted only four minutes this time, Innes went for a 50-50 ball just inside the box but for once was beaten to the ball, it dropped for Gormley who hit a fine shot low into the opposite bottom corner.

 

A couple of minutes from time Ryan Innes, aleady on a booking, lunged into a needless tackle in the opposition box and got his second yellow, worryingly for the second time in three weeks.

 

Larkhall’s attempt to see out the remaining few minutes came undone with the very last kick of the match. The old problem of a striker trying to defend caught them out with Johnny McStay wanting far too much time in the box instead of clearing the ball, the Glens striker dispossessed him and as McStay tried to recover the ball he caught him and gave away the penalty.

 

McKay converted from the spot and the referee didn’t even restart the game.

 

If there are positives to be taken from the day’s events, the other teams at the bottom didn’t gain much ground with none of them winning but on performances so far it looks likely that Thistle will be fighting their battles at the wrong end of the table this season.

 

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 4 Rutherglen Glencairn 5

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Duncan; Brown, Robb, Nicholl; Canning; Forbes, Innes, McKeever (Reid 70), Clarke; J McStay, Gracie. Subs: Jack, Doyle, Mushett, Thomson (GK)

 

Rutherglen Glencairn:
Baker, McGregor, Neil, Donaldson, Leyden, McGuire, McNab, Hamilton, Gormley, McArdle, McKay.

 

Scorers: Canning (3), McStay

 

Booked: Brown, Nicholl, Canning, McStay, Gracie

 

Sent off: Innes

 

MoM: Mark Canning would have been a strong contender anyway without his three goals with a good all-round performance.

 

*** Video up tomorrow sometime

 

 

 

Larkhall Thistle 3 Kilsyth Rangers 2 – 2nd September 2017

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Kilsyth Rangers
McBookie.com Super First Division

 

The second half of the Rangers double-header was switched to Gasworks Park with the Kilsyth changing rooms being out of action.

 

 

Management team Dunky Sinclair and Tam McLaughlin were back in charge after last week’s absence due to a wedding, also returning was Liam Mushett who was one of six changes from last week’s starting line-up. Out went keeper Stewart Thomson and Graham Gracie with injuries, Niall Reynolds, Brian Jack, Billy Robb and David Reid. Taking their place were new keeper Johnny Duncan, Matty Clarke, Scott Nicholl, Mark Canning and Mark McKeever.

 

Kilsyth hadn’t got off to the best of starts either with just a single point so far after a last minute pre-season change in manager and the loss of players, both teams were in need of a result to get their campaigns started.

 

Like the previous two games however, Thistle got off to a bad start with the loss of a goal after just seven minutes. Again the frailties at set pieces were exposed as a corner from the right was headed across the goal into the far corner. The goal didn’t upset the rythm too much though and the Jags players looked determined to try and get the goal back as quickly as possible.

 

 

Ryan Innes had a couple of very good chances with close range headers but put them both straight into the keeper’s arms in a game that he will probably want to forget. He found himself in forward positions more often than usual and as well as the two chances, took a sore one in the face from the Kilsyth goalkeeper, needing to go off for treatment. He also picked up a first half booking for being the third Thistle played to try and bring down Kilsyth’s Davidson as he charged forward, slightly unlucky but he couldn’t have any real arguments about it.

 

Kilsyth added to their lead in the 14th minute as the Jags kept up their 100% record of going two down in league matches. This time it was a long ball forward that Smith was first to reach and he slid it past the advancing Duncan.

 

If Thistle’s last two league games have taught them anything though, it’s how to deal with the loss of two early goals and for most of the rest of the game they were the better team. It looked like a goal would put them right back in with a chance and it came just before the half hour mark. A long ball from the right into the box was missed by two Kilsyth defenders who both seemed to mis-time their jumps and it fell to Mark McKeever who did well to get a good cross in for Johnny McStay to head home.

 

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Kilsyth Rangers 2

 

It only took Larkhall two minutes of the second half to get level and again it was Johnny McStay who got the goal. The big striker was persistent in the box in what looked like a lost cause and got the break of the ball with it falling kindly to him to fire it across the keeper into the net.

 

The dust had hardly settled when McStay was in action again, going clear just outside the box where he was fouled by the Kilsyth defender in a last ditch effort to save his team conceding again. The defender was sent off for the challenge although Nicholl couldn’t take advantage from a good position and sent his free kick wide.

 

 

It was game on now and Thistle looked like the team who was most likely to get the winner, although Kilsyth did have their moments and were still dangerous looking on the break at times. The one man advantage only lasted for fifteen minutes however as Innes rounded off his day by getting involved in a scuffle and picking up a second yellow along with his opponent who was also booked in the incident.

 

Home hearts were in their mouths midway through the half when Kilsyth broke and a ferocious shot from the impressive McFadden spun off Anndy Brown’s boot and looped up into the air, it looked like it might drop into the top corner of the net but scraped the bar as it went over.

 

The pressure was mostly in the other direction though and the Jags got the goal they deserved with twenty minutes left. Henderson in the Kilsyth goal dropped a clanger as he went out for a high ball and failed to claim it, McStay was on hand like all good strikers and stuck the ball away for his hat-trick.

 

He nearly had his fourth just minutes later with a great snap shot that flew a yard wide but three was enough on the day to give Thistle their first win of the season.

 

A cracking game, especially if you were on the home side, played for the most part in good spirits. Kilsyth played some good football in the first half and Thistle again showed their battling qualities to come away with all three points.

 

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Kilsyth Rangers 2

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Duncan; Brown, Mushett, Nicholl; Canning (Jack 78); Payne, Forbes, Innes, McKeever, J McStay, Clarke (G McStay 80). Subs: Reynolds, Doyle

 

Kilsyth Rangers:
Henderson; Waters, Denholm, Falconer, Harrison, Kelly, McFadden, Smith, Farrell, Davison, Wright. Subs: Kane (GK), Reid, McLaughlin, Dolan, Janik

 

Scorers: J McStay (3)

 

Booked: Mushett, Nicholl

 

Sent off: Innes

 

MoM: Unlucky on Scott Nicholl again who had a really good game but three goals = MoM, rules are rules.

 

Sorry about the video this week, only got the first half before the camera packed in.

 

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: