Stagecoach West of Scotland League Central District First Division
Craighead Park, Lesmahagow
Lesmahagow v Larkhall Thistle
Larkhall Thistle lost the only unbeaten league record today at local rivals Gow in a defensive horror show. The frailties at the back that had cost nine goals in the previous four games were exposed by a much improved Lesmahagow side. In the previous meeting between the teams only last month, the situation was reversed and Thistle were unfortunate not to run out more than 3-2 winners, this was totally different
The signs were there as early as the second minute when Gow’s stand out player White drove down the left, cut inside and finished low to the left unchallenged. Four minutes later however Jags should have been level but squandered an open goal from ten yards after good work from Graham Gracie on the right.
Two minutes later White scored again after a defensive slip let him in for a low drive. Again Thistle fought back and had two more great chances to score, Gracie waltzed through the defence on the left and squared the ball into the six yard box but there were no takers, then Ross McGeachie found himself one on one with the keeper and although he got the ball past the goalie, it trickled wide of the right hand post.
A minute later the Jags pressed the self-destruct button when Lee Thomson gifted the ball to a Gow player from a wide right position, the Lesmahagow man having the easiest of tasks to roll the ball into the empty net.
On a positive note, Thistle kept fighting back and in the 17th minute pulled a goal back. Gracie held the ball up well, beat a man then slipped it through to Mark Canning who finished calmly to the left of the goal. The same two players combined well again eight minutes later and might have scored but for a weak finish.
Just on the half hour mark, Larkhall did pull it back to 3-2 when a corner on the left rebounded back to Mark McKeever whose cross/shot flew directly into the far corner of the net. Five minutes later though the winger’s good work was undone when he lost his footing and allowed the Gow player to pass him on the right and finish with a low shot.
Dean Richardson was booked for the Jags in the 39th minute for an off the ball incident.
Half Time Lesmahagow 4 Larkhall Thistle 2
Larkhall made a change at half time, bringing on Alan Fleming for Mark Russell with Andy Brown moving to right back and Fleming taking up the centre half position. With only a minute gone though Thistle nearly fell further behind but Thomson made a great save with the Gow striker clean through on goal.
Six minutes later it looked like the Jags might salvage something from the game. McKeever took a corner on the right and McGeachie’s flicked header was handled by a Gow defender for a penalty. Grant took the kick, low to the right and it seemed like it was game on.
Lesmahagow then picked up an unusual double booking when they had two players yellow carded for dissent.
The incident that was to prove the turning point of the game though came after an hour played. Richardson matched the run of a Gow attacker all the way to the byeline and looked to have shielded the ball over for a goal kick. The referee was badly out of position though and waved play on, the cross came in and somehow found its way into the net with nobody challenging the keeper.
The Jags players were riled and Grant was booked a few minutes later for dissent, Mark Brady then replaced Scott McLachlan who picked up a knock.
The final blow came in the 70th minute with a well worked goal from the Gow. A ball from the right was driven across the front of the box, knocked down and swept low into the corner. Thistle’s only reply in the late stages was a well hit Gracie free kick that sailed just over. In the closing stages Larkhall picked up bookings to Thomson for dissent, Fleming for a pull-back and McKeever for throwing the ball at an opponent.
Full Time Lesmahagow 6 Larkhall Thistle 3
Thistle Scorers: Grant, McKeever and Canning
Larkhall Thistle Team:
Thomson; Russell, Kelly, Brown, Richardson; McKeever, Canning, Grant, McLachlan; McGeachie, Gracie.
Subs Fleming, Brady, Moore, Moss
Unfortunately no real stars for Thistle on the day, but Fleming gets pass marks and Gracie, Grant and McLachlan saw plenty of the ball without too much of an end product.