A bad day for Thistle in Ayrshire as they were outclassed by their Super Premier League opponents and had midfielder Hugh Kelly sent off for a second yellow. The Jags struggled badly on the heavy park and never really got into the game against a very good looking Cumnock team who lived up to their 1/6 favourites billing.
Cumnock were on top straight from the first whistle and came close to opening the scoring in the second minute with a good shot that just cleared the bar. It didn’t take long for the home team to open the scoring though, a corner on the right two minutes later was headed home by Hanvey without much of a challenge from the Thistle defence. The home team doubled their lead in the eighth minute when Thistle keeper Davie McEwan appeared to slip when saving a shot and the ball rebounded back off Cumnock’s Smith into the net.
There was a real danger at this point of the Jags being completely overrun but they managed to steady the ship for a spell and threatened when Graham Gracie and Brian Jack worked a one-two on the left side, setting up a shot for Mark Canning from the edge of the box which went just over. Dean Richardson picked up a soft booking for sliding in just after that. Gracie himself then chased down a loose ball with the Cumnock keeper but as often happens the keeper was awarded a free kick although there was no apparent foul.
26 minutes into the game and it looked all over as a contest. Cumnock played the ball down the right and when the cross came in, McMenamin found himself completely unmarked on the edge of the box and he fired it in to the left side of the goal. Cumnock had more chances to extend their lead before half time but most of them ended up flying over the low stand and out of the park.
Half Time: Cumnock 3 Larkhall Thistle 0
Cumnock started the second half like they did the first and in the opening minute had the ball in the net only for it to be flagged for offside. A minute later they should have scored again when yet another move down the right side of the park finished with a square ball into the box and a tap-in that looked easier to score.
From then on the second half was the Davie McEwan show. The Thistle number one keeper was back in for Lee Moss after a long period of injury, ironically sustained in Thistle’s last Scottish Cup game (also against an Ayrshire team – Kilwinning Rangers). In the sixth minute of the second half McEwan produced a brilliant double save, tipping a fierce shot off the bar only for it to fall to another Cumnock forward and scooping away the second effort.
Alan Fleming and Gracie were then booked, both for fouls before Scott McLachlan was substituted for Ross NcNab.
In the 67th minute Cumnock extended their lead to 4-0 with another header from a corner on the right this time converted by Robertson, and two minutes later they completed the scoring when Sean Pierce picked up the ball just inside the Thistle half and wove his way through the whole Jags team before slotting the ball home. With the game now over as a contest Larkhall pushed Brian Jack up front and brought on Mark Brady for Gracie. Canning was booked for swinging a boot and was possibly a bit lucky to stay on the park.
McEwan then made two more outstanding saves before the Jags had their best chance of the game, Brady did well to drive forward and crossed the ball only for Ross McGeachie to fail to connect from five yards out.
The misery was completed for Thistle in the 81st minute when Hugh Kelly slid in showing his studs and received a second yellow card. All in all a day to be forgotten for the visitors and an indication of the amount of work required if they are to return to the top flight.
Full Time: Cumnock 5 Larkhall Thistle 0
McEwan; Brown, Fleming, Kelly, Richardson, McLachlan, McKeever, Canning, Jack, McGeachie, Gracie. Subs: Brady, Moore, McNab, Russell, Moss
Booked: Richardson, Fleming, Gracie, Canning, Sent off: Kelly
Fahey, Smith, Murray, Robertson, Lundie, O’Donnell, Hanvey, McKnight, Bradford, Pierce, McMenamin. Subs: Hamill, Patterson, Tyler, Anson, McCulloch
Best for Thistle on the day: Davie McEwan was outstanding especially in the second half and prevented what could have been a very embarrassing score. Mark Brady also looked lively when he came on.