Stagecoach West of Scotland League Central District First Division
Showpark, East Kilbride
Larkhall Thistle made a welcome return to football today after a five game layoff and blew away the cobwebs with an emphatic win against bottom side East Kilbride. The heavy park meant that the game only just made it past the referee’s inspection and there was a constant threat of rain that would have seen the match being abandoned but despite the conditions the Jags managed to play some good football and added considerably to their goal difference.
First to show for the visitors was Graham Gracie who took a good touch from a long Dean Richardson pass before firing in a low shot that the keeper touched on the way into the net. Three minutes later Mark McKeever almost added to the lead when he took a nice backheel from Ross McGeachie after a good move, but scooped the ball straight into the keeper’s hands.
East Kilbride then had a short spell where they held their own but it always looked likely that a second goal would kill the game.
Thistle doubled their lead in the 18th minute. JP Grant swept a crossfield ball to Brian Jack who cut inside before passing the ball across the six yard box for McGeachie to backheel into the path of McKeever, who tapped in from two yards. Two minutes later it was 3-0 when Gracie picked up the ball on the left side of the box and squared to McKeever who laid it into the path of Mark Canning who had the easiest of finishes from a couple of yards out.
By this point Larkhall were on easy street with the hosts offering little resistance, just before the half hour mark Gracie again picked up the ball on the left, beat a man then passed to Canning whose drive was well tipped past by the East Kilbride keeper. A few minutes later Gracie himself could have made it four when he picked up a ball from a throw and drifted inside before shifting the ball onto his left foot and firing narrowly wide.
Goal number four did arrive after 41 minutes when McGeachie got his head to a long ball and flicked it into the path of Canning who volleyed it past the helpless keeper.
Canning and McKeever both had great chances to add to the lead before the break in what was one of the most one-sided halfs in a long time.
Half Time: East Kilbride 0 Larkhall Thistle 4
Thistle started the second half looking determined to keep up the pressure on the home team and extended the lead six minutes in when Gracie took a ball on the right inside his man before sending a low left foot shot just inside the right hand post.
Seven minutes later East Kilbride produced their best move of the game and should really have scored, a free kick to the back post was headed down for a shot that went just past Davie McEwan’s right post. A minute later however they fell further behind when an EK free kick from their substitute was easily picked up and fed to McGeachie who played in Gracie for a one on one with the keeper, the big striker cooly slipping the ball home for 6-0.
Straight after the goal Gracie was replaced when Sandy Strang came on to make his debut and five minutes later Scott McLachlan came on for McKeever.
The Thistle supporters had to wait until the 71st minute to see the goal that most had wanted, Big Ross McGeachie finally getting the goal that his hard work and good play deserved when he got his head onto a Jack cross from the right and flicked it high into the net.
Mark Weir came on for Grant just after the goal and five minutes later the scoring was completed when McLachlan made a run down the left before passing to McGeachie who laid it off for Canning to complete his hat-trick with a chip over the keeper.
Full Time: East Kilbride 0 Larkhall Thistle 8
Thistle Scorers: Gracie 3, Canning 3, McKeever, McGeachie
Larkhall Thistle Team:
McEwan; Brown, Kelly, Fleming, Richardson; McKeever, Canning, Grant, Jack; McGeachie, Gracie. Subs Russell, McLachlan, Weir, Strang, Moss
Best for Thistle on the day were Gracie, McGeachie, Kelly and Canning although it was a fine team performance with no flops on the day.