Thistle opened their section league cup campaign at Lanark without Hugh Kelly suspended for first 2 games and Scott Nicol who was serving the last game of a 2 match suspension. Gary McStay was on holiday and keeper Daniel Terry injured. They were then dealt another blow when Div.Reid pulled up injured in the warm up resulting in a late re-shuffle with Matty Clarke coming into the line up.
Thistle starting confidently playing a crisp passing and moving game with both Mark Canning and Matty Clarke both testing the Lanark keeper. At this stage Lanark were struggling to cope with the jags passing game Graham Gracie then picked up a pass from Matty Clarke and drove into the Lanark penalty box electing to pass to Josh Payne who netted but the referee correctly ruled him offside. The first goal was only delayed and after a fine move involving Josh Payne and Brian Jack the final through ball put Graham Gracie in the clear and he duly netted. Billy Robb was then booked for deliberate trip on the Lanark no. 11 who at this point was looking dangerous when on the ball. The home team then had a claim for a penalty when the same player was impeded on the edge of the area but the referee deemed it outside the box with the resultant free kick being blasted against the Thistle defensive wall. Play swung to the other end with Thistle coming close with a Matty Clarke shot after good work from Craig Forbes. half time arrived with Thistle looking comfortable despite their narrow lead.
Half time Lanark United 0- Larkhall Thistle 1
Thistle started the second half strongly and went two up with another fine move involving Matty Clarke and Graham Gracie whose final ball across the six yard area was finished off by Jonny McStay to put the Jags two ahead. The game then went through a period of mid field play with neither side really threating.Lanark pulled a goal back after 60 minutes with an own goal Niall Reynolds finding his own net when attempting to clear a pass across the six yard box. This goal gave the home team a boost and Dunky freshened things up firstly replacing a tiring Matty Clarke who was starting his first game of the season after missing the friendly programme due to holidays his replacement was Mark McKeever. Ryan Innes then replaced the hard working Brian Jack as the visitors tried to get back control of the game. Stuart Thomson then had a tremendous one handed save low at his right hand post as the home team made a determined effort to get back on level terms. Graham Gracie then set up his strike partner Jonny McStay who went close his shot whistling by the post.Thistle were back in control and a fine Billy Robb chipped pass put Graham Gracie in the clear and he blasted the ball past Halford in the Lanark goal to restore the Jags two goal lead. Thistle played out the remainder of the game quite comfortably to win what is always a difficult game.
Team ; Stewart Thomson, Billy Robb,Liam Mushett, Niall Reynold, Josh Payne ,Craig Forbes , Mark Canning, Brian Jack,(Ryan Innes) Matty Clarke (Mark McKeever)
Graham Gracie, Jonny McStay
Subs. not used Div Reid, Andy Brown, Declan Doyle.
On the night all the players worked hard and there were no failures Josh Payne put in his usual shift up and down the right flank despite it being his first outing of the season as did Craig Forbes in mid field but tonight’s man of the match goes to Graham Gracie for his two goals and an assist for Jonny McStays goal.
On now to Lesmahagow on Saturday for what will be another difficult game.