Stagecoach West of Scotland League Central District First Division
Somervell Park, Cambuslang
Cambuslang Rangers v Larkhall Thistle
Two goals from striker Ross McGeachie saw Thistle through this tricky looking tie, although Cambuslang Rangers will claim that they could and should have taken at least a point from the game.
The Jags started with their team along familiar lines with Hugh Kelly again filling in at left back and Andy Brown at centre half, unchanged from the team that had beaten Maryhill last time out.
After a quiet start to the game Cambuslang were first to threaten and should have scored after 8 minutes when their No.11 had a free header in the middle of the goal after they were allowed to cross from the right unchallenged.
That woke Thistle out of their slow start and when they picked up a free kick 25 yards out two minutes later, the high ball into the box was won in the air by Adam Cassidy who knocked it down between McGeachie and the keeper. Big Ross was first to react and stuck out a toe to get on the end of the ball and poke it home past the keeper.
The goal came after 10 minutes and four minutes later Graham Gracie almost made it 2-0. Mark Canning played a good ball down the right side of midfield for him to run on to and he took it infield past two defenders before shooting. It looked to be a certain goal but the shot wasn’t one of his best and the keeper made a comfortable save.
Cambuslang fought back and almost snatched a controversial equaliser after 20 minutes. Thistle had strong claims for a foul waved aside, the home team played on and broke down the right wing then switched it across to the other side before playing a ball right across the six yard box for a tap-in – unfortunately for them though there was no striker there to take advantage and the Jags defence managed to scramble the ball clear.
The last real action of the first half came with ten minutes left and it was Cambuslang again who came close. The wee Gers played the ball across the Thistle box and the Jags couldn’t get it clear despite three attempts and Davie McEwan had to make a last gasp save to tip over for a corner.
Half Time: Cambuslang Rangers 0 Larkhall Thistle 1
Cambuslang were again first to show in the second half, a good passing move ended with Hugh Kelly conceding a free kick right on the edge of the box. The kick was heading right for the top corner of the net and McEwan saw it late but managed somehow to throw himself across the goal and tip the ball off the bar, a fantastic save.
Gracie had been worrying the Cambuslang defence every time he had the ball but in the 7th minute of the second half he was brought down and picked up an injury that he didn’t manage to shake off, he came back onto the park and hobbled for a bit but was eventually replaced by Jordan Marshall.
Larkhall again could have increased the lead in 63 minutes when McEwan found Scott McLachlan on the right side with a kick out. The midfielder was involved in what looked like a 50-50 challenge but the ref gave Thistle a free kick which Grant took, finding McGeachie clear six yards out but his downward header flew past the post.
The Jags did double their lead three minutes later though, the Cambuslang keeper misjudged a through ball when it looked like he had time to clear and McLachlan nipped in and stole it from him, the ball ricocheted back out to McGeachie twelve yards out and he rolled it into the net off the post.
Thistle weren’t content to sit on their lead and five minutes later should have added to it, Jordan Marshall found space on the right and squared the ball to Canning who could and should have scored when he found himself totally unmarked around the penalty spot with just the keeper to beat. His shot was too close to the keeper though and the chance was gone.
Scott McLachlan – who had run tirelessly all day – was replaced five minutes from the end by Brian Jack, Mark McKeever was pushed forward into nosebleed territory in the switch, playing through the middle at centre forward.
The last action of the game came from a quick Cambuslang break down the right, the ball was fed into the box and it took a fantastic one-handed save from McEwan from point blank range to keep the clean sheet intact.
Thistle kept up their habit of picking up second half bookings with Kelly first to see yellow for a foul then McLachlan following him into the book for kicking the ball away. Cambuslang had their centre half sent off a couple of minutes before the end for a second bookable offence.
In the end a great result for Thistle and possibly more than they deserved on performance but it could have been even more than 2-0 with the chances they created. Equally however Cambuslang could well have scored three or four themselves so it all came down to chances taken – and saved.
Full Time: Cambuslang Rangers 0 Larkhall Thistle 2
Thistle scorers: MeGeachie (2)
Larkhall Thistle Team:
McEwan; Reynolds, Brown, Cassidy, Kelly; McLachlan, Grant, Canning, McKeever; Gracie, McGeachie Subs: Innes, Russell, Moss, Marshall, Jack
Booked: Kelly, McLachlan
Best on the day for Thistle: A few good solid performances throughout the team but the verdict goes to the man who showed the star quality on the day with two top class saves, Davie McEwan.