Hermand Park, West Calder
West Calder United v Larkhall Thistle
Larkhall Thistle had travelled South and West in their two previous friendlies and carried on their tour of Scotland in the East at West Calder. The Lothians team will play in the newly reconstructed East of Scotland South Division next season and on this evidence might do well in that league. Thistle had been hammered 5-0 on their last visit to Hermand Park but in fairness were missing a lot of players on that occasion. This time round the Jags had most of the first team squad to choose from and the game was very evenly fought.
The first half was goalless although Larkhall did survive an early scare when a defensive slip-up caught the Jags out and a nice cut back looked certain to be finished from six yards before Kevin McMinn threw himself in to head clear off the line. Thistle themselves did not threaten the home goal too often in the first period with a couple of efforts from Canning going wide, until just before the break when Canning sent Ross McGeachie clean through on the keeper but the giant goalie spread himself well to pull off a point-blank save.
Half Time: West Calder United 0 Larkhall Thistle 0
West Calder had the ball in the net 11 minutes into the second half with a good move down the right and cross along the six yard box for the attacking player to slide in and score but the referee ruled the goal out for hand ball after initially appearing to allow it. United were the better team for most of the second half though and a goal always looked likely and did indeed arrive in 72 minutes after a tired looking Hugh Kelly allowed the ball to slip past him and the West Calder foward finished calmly inside the right hand post.
Another defensive mistake saw the Jags two down in the 81st minute when Andy Brown, who had been having a very good game, sliced his clearance straight to a West Calder forward who lobbed it into the empty net. That looked to be it for the Jags but an early reply gave them hope, JP Grant scoring from the spot after the ref had awarded the penalty for climbing. A minute later Thistle were level through new signing Ryan Innes, Grant did well on the right and managed to get a cross into the box which was controlled and laid off by Ross McGeachie for Innes to slot home.
Thistle almost stole an unlikely win with the last move of the game and it was the Jags best piece of football of the day. McGeachie set Jordan Marshall off down the left wing and his run left the United defenders trailing, he played a great ball across the face of the goal and Canning looked to have a tap-in from five yards but somehow managed to balloon the ball high over the bar.
This was a stiffer test than the previous two games for Thistle and in the end they did well to come away with a draw. Cassidy looked solid in the middle of the defence and looks like he might form a good centre half pairing with McMinn, Canning was involved in most of Thistle’s attacking play and Grant made a difference to the midfield when he came on. Best for the Jags on the day though was McGeachie who fought hard for every ball and never gave anything up.
Full Time: West Calder United 2 Larkhall Thistle 2
McEwan; Brown, McMinn, Cassidy, Kelly; Jack, Canning, Innes, Marshall; Gracie, McGeachie
Subs (rolling sub format): McLachlan, Russell, McKeever, Grant, Moss