Maryhill 1 Larkhall Thistle 1, 24th May 2014

Thistle travelled to Maryhill for the last game of the season and made four changes from the team that won at Benburb last week. Davie McEwan started in goals, Scott Nicholl came in for Niall Reynolds at left back for his first appearance of the season, Hugh Kelly replaced Andy Brown at centre half and Mark McKeever was recalled to midfield in place of Mark Canning, David Garcia taking the armband for the day. Sean McLaughlin, Brian Jack and Matty Clarke all kept their places in what was a team that was barely recognisable from the one who had played most of the season.

Thistle got of to a bright start but should have fallen behind in the fifth minute when Davie McEwan had to pull off a fantastic double save to dive at the feet of a Maryhill striker to keep the score blank.

The Jags were having most of the play but again could have fallen behind ten minutes later when a mix up in defence let the Maryhill striker in front of McLaughlin but his shot was too high. The Jags did create a chance themselves a minute later though when Nicholl put Graeme Gracie in the clear on the left side of goal but his shot across the keeper went just past the post. Gracie forced the keeper to make a save four minutes later after David Garcia did well to win the ball in midfield and set him up.

The Jags attack the Maryhill goal in the first half
The Jags attack the Maryhill goal in the first half

The best move of the game came in the 26th minute, started by Nicholl in the left back position who fed the ball forward to Matty Clarke. The midfielder held the ball well and cut inside, leaving his marker stranded then laid it off to Ryan Innes who played it out right to McKeever. He took it forward 10 yards and played a cross right onto David Garcia’s head in the six yard box but his near-post header brought out a save from the keeper.

Thistle defend a first half free kick
Thistle defend a first half free kick

The Jags did take the lead though 10 minutes later. Scott Nicholl won the ball then strode through the middle of the park, brushing a challenge aside before playing the ball to Gracie and carring on his run in behind the defence. Gracie sent the perfect ball through into his path and Nicholl was left with the straightforward task of taking the ball past the keeper and rolling it into the empty net.

Maryhill almost got an equaliser just before the interval but McEwan produced another great save to keep his team on top at the break.

Davie McEwan pulls off first half save
Davie McEwan pulls off first half save

Half Time: Maryhill 0 Larkhall Thistle 1

Maryhill started the second half on the front foot and could have equalised just two minutes after the restart but for some reason their midfielder chose to hook the ball away when he was in clear space for a shot.

Five minutes later Gracie did well to create a half chance when he played a ball to Garcia then ran behind the defence to collect the return but was bundled off the ball and lost the chance. It was looking like the striker’s luck was going to be out and the goal wasn’t going to come.

Mark McKeever winds up for a shot
Mark McKeever winds up for a shot

Thistle survived another scare two minutes after that when a cross from the left found the Maryhill No.7 in acres of space in the six yard box, any header would have almost certainly been a goal but he contrived to miss the ball altogether with the goal at his mercy.

Maryhill however did get their equaliser in the 56th minute albeit in controversial circumstances. Neil Schoneville was clearly fouled in the build up but the referee let play go on and McEwan couldn’t prevent his opponent going past him and cutting the ball back for a tap-in.

Larkhall almost went back in front three minutes later when good play between Gracie and Clarke on the left set up Ryan Innes for a shot that went just over the bar.

Thistle's Ryan Innes, Brian Jack and Matty Clarke
Thistle’s Ryan Innes, Brian Jack and Matty Clarke

Just before the hour mark Scott McLachlan came on for Mark McKeever followed closely by Ross McGeachie replacing David Garcia.

The Jags could have nicked a winner three minutes from the end when Gracie drove a corner into the six yard area, the ball came out to the edge of the box and Clarke sent a good effort just past the post.

Despite the fact that the game was meaningless for both teams, they produced an enjoyable hard-fought game that was played in good spirits by both teams.

Well done to Mark McKeever by the way for coming out of retirement and being the only player to hit 30 appearances for the season!

Full Time: Maryhill 1 Larkhall Thistle 1

Thistle scorer: Nicholl

Larkhall Thistle:
McEwan; McLaughlin, Schoneville, Kelly, Nicholl; Jack, Innes, Clarke McKeever (McLachlan 59); Gracie, Garcia (McGeachie 63)

Best on the day for Thistle: Scott Nicholl had a great return and Brian Jack showed more willingness to get involved and show what he can do but Davie McEwan’s saves were different class and came at important times in the game.

Click here for the final Thistle Player Stats for 2013-2014

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