Abbey Vale v Larkhall Thistle
Larkhall Thistle took a trip down the M74 to start their pre-season against Southern League side Abbey Vale today. Even although the squad was a bit depleted it was a worthwhile exercise for the Jags as a couple of new players got themselves bedded in to a new looking defence and the team started the build up to full fitness.
The early stages passed off in the 24 degree heat without too much incident and with Abbey Vale’s striker “Elbows” not really living up to his nickname, the only real effort was a shot from Jordan Marshall from a quick free kick that went just over the bar. The Jags did take the lead though on 15 minutes when Graham Gracie picked up a ball in midfield from Brian Jack and swept it wide to the left to Mark McKeever, who played it into the middle for Mark Canning and his overhead flick dropped in just under the bar.
The home side came closest to scoring in 24 minutes with a good drive that went just over the bar but the game looked beyond them 10 minutes from the break when Canning picked up a pass 30 yards out and went past a couple of defenders before placing the ball just inside the post.
Worryingly for Thistle, top striker Gracie picked up a knock just before the interval and had to come off to be replaced by Ross McGeachie.
Half Time Abbey Vale 0 Larkhall Thistle 2
Andy Brown came on for Mark Russell five minutes into the second half and it was Mark Canning again who started the move for the third goal with a ball down the left for Scott McLachlan to chase. The winger ran on well and cut in past the keeper before rolling it into the empty net.
Fifteen minutes into the second half and Abbey Vale looked to be tiring visibly as a defender missed a header inside the box and allowed the ball to drop to Jack. His ball into the box missed two Jags players running in but McLachlan did well to recover the situation and lay the ball back to Canning who finished low in off the right hand post.
Jordan Marshall completed the scoring with the best goal of the game, a move started and finished by him. The young playmaker got the ball on the right inside his own half with 15 minutes left and set off on a run. He played a great one-two with McLachlan before cutting inside and placing an unstoppable shot past the keeper to the left of the goal.
Reserve keeper Lee Moss replaced Davie McEwan for the final 15 minutes of the game.
The new defensive partnership of Borg and Cassidy looked solid but were not stretched too much by Abbey Vale and Niall Reynolds looked good both defensively and going forward in the left back role. Mark Canning had some nice link up play and excellent finishes but it was Jordan Marshall who stole the show with another outstanding performance, never giving the ball away and scoring a superb goal.
Half Time Abbey Vale 0 Larkhall Thistle 5
Larkhall Thistle team: McEwan; Russell, Borg, Cassidy, Reynolds; Jack, Marshall, Canning, McKeever; Gracie, McLachlan. Subs: Brown, McGeachie, Moss