West of Scotland Cup
Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Rutherglen Glencairn
Thistle gave a good account of themselves against the team from the Super League in the West of Scotland Cup but again it was their defensive frailites that cost them dear. It was a cracking hard fought cup tie that looked to be lost, then was dramatically pulled back by the Jags before being lost again, the difference on the day being Glencairn’s striker Denis McLaughlin.
Larkhall had the best of the early chances, Scott McLachlan on the right fed in Mark McKeever who found himself unmarked in front of goal but couldn’t steady himself enough to get a shot in, then a high clearance from Hugh Kelly found JP Grant whose quick turn and shot was deflected for a corner. The best chance however fell to Graham Gracie in the 19th minute, who after playing a neat one-two elected to shoot from a narrow angle when a cut back to Ross McGeachie would have left him with a tap-in.
A minute later and the Jags were ruing their misfortune when the visitors took the lead with McLaughlin’s first which dropped over keeper Moss into thefar corner of the net. Moss however saved Thistle from going further behind two minutes later when he pulled off a great stop, diving at the feet of the onrushing Glens striker.
Just after the half hour mark Glencairn did extend their lead when a corner on the left was swung in by Donaghy and McLaughlin was left unmarked to head in.
Mark Canning was booked for a foul ten minutes before half time but a minute later Thistle were back in the game when a free kick from Grant was headed in by Alan Fleming. Thistle pressed looking for an equaliser before the break and it nearly came when a corner from McKeever broke to Canning, his shot going wide of the left post.
Half-time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Rutherglen Glencairn 2
Two minutes into the second half Thistle looked to be caught cold when McLaughlin again found himself free and his shot from the edge of the box somehow managed to find the net under the body of the diving Moss.
The Jags were now facing an uphill battle to get back into the tie, but to their great credit they did battle all the way. In 54 minutes Hugh Kelly played in a magnificent cross field ball from a free kick, Grant made a run from deep to get on to the end of it and finished with an excellent header. Three minutes later and the game was level.
A high ball into the Glencairn box appeared to be won by McGeachie before the keeper clattered him to the ground. The referee allowed play to go on and the ball broke to Andy Brown who lashed a right foot drive into the middle of the goal past a helpless defender for his first goal back at Thistle. The goalie was perhaps a bit lucky to stay on the park, and four minutes later the referee was again involved in a controversial incident that turned the game.
He spoke to the Jags coaching staff after complaints towards him, and less than a minute later awarded Glencairn a very harsh looking penalty for handball when the ball was blasted at the Thistle defender’s arm from close range and he could do nothing about it. Kelly was booked for complaining about the award and McLaughlin scored from the spot.
Thistle fought to get level again and in the 63rd minute Gracie found himself clean through on goal but the keeper made a good save. The game then swung from one end to another with no real clear cut chances until the 82nd minute when Glens substitute Asatute won the ball on the right and crossed for McLaughlin to complete a great day for Glencairn and himself with his fifth goal of the game.
A disappointing day then for the Jags but one that could have turned out differently if a couple of decisions had gone their way.
Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Rutherglen Glencairn 5
Thistle Scorers: Fleming, Grant, Brown
Larkhall Thistle Team:
Moss; Brown, Kelly, Fleming, Richardson; McKeever, Canning, Grant, McLachlan; McGeachie, Gracie.
Subs: Russell, Moore, Weir, Thomson (GK)
Rutherglen Glencairn team:
Montgomery: Galloway, Ballantyne, Aitchison, Ward: McClay, Hamilton, McGuire, Agnew, Donaghy, McLaughlin
Best for Thistle on the day were Fleming who won almost every ball in the air, Kelly, Brown and the very consistent JP Grant.