Scottish Junior Cup Second Round
Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Kirriemuir Thistle
Larkhall Thistle came out on top against the Thistle of Kirriemuir in a game that had had everything – ten goals, three sendings off, two penalties and a five-star goal scoring performance from Graham Gracie. Kirriemuir had started the match as bookies even money favourites with Larkhall at 7/4, but the Larkhall punters who thought the odds were a bit too generous were the winners on the day.
Kirriemuir fired off a warning as early as the first minute with a low shot that Davie McEwan did well to get down to and Thistle replied two minutes later when Mark Canning had the ball in the net but had the goal disallowed for offside, although he appeared to start his run from well behind the defender.
Graham Gracie had a quiet early spell but latched on to a good through ball from Jordan Marshall in the 17th minute only to choke his shot and send it so wide that it went out for a throw-in. That was his miss out of the way though and nearly everything else he touched went in, starting just a minute later when he gave Thistle the lead. Scott McLachlan fed the ball to the big striker in the wide left position and there didn’t look to be anything on for him so he had a shot, a vicious low effort, that flew into the bottom corner.
Four minutes later Ross McGeachie won the ball in the middle of the park and played a great ball through the middle, Gracie outmuscled and outpaced the last defender and went clear, calmly placing his shot past the keeper for 2-0.
Gracie almost claimed his hat trick in the 28th minute with a quick turn and shot inside the box that produced a good diving save from keeper Tough. The Jags looked well on top at this point and coasting to a win but the wind was knocked out of their sails a bit three minutes later when Kirriemuir were awarded a penalty. The visitors’s most dangerous player Ross Sievwright went on a run down the right and was fouled as he went past Hugh Kelly and Sievwright converted the penalty himself to bring Kirrie back into the game.
Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Kirriemuir Thistle 1
The second half began with half chances for both teams, Gracie’s shot going wide before Kirriemuir replied with a run down the right and cross that found a man free on the back post but he shot past the near post. The incident that shaped the rest of the game though came in the 53rd minute. Scott McLachlan picked up the ball in the centre circle and was fouled by Kirriemuir’s influential midfielder Ogg, the referee saw it as a red card and the visitors were reduced to ten men. McLachlan came back on to the park but only lasted another five minutes before hobbling off to be replaced by Mark McKeever.
Kirriemuir drew level in the 63rd minute with a goal from a mysteriously awarded free kick. A speculative shot from distance was deemed to have hit a Thistle hand on the way through although needless to say nobody on the home side agreed with the decision. The free kick was deadly though and gave McEwan no chance and the game was tied at 2-2.
Larkhall hit straight back and after a spell of pressure were awarded a penalty three minutes later. Mark Canning made a run into the box and went down, appearing to lose his footing rather than being fouled but the referee pointed to the spot on advice from his linesman. The visitors were understandably furious at the award though having just drawn level and defender Logan got his marching orders for over-protesting. Gracie made no mistake from the spot and the home side were back in front.
Just three minutes after that the Jags again looked to have the tie won when Canning drove forward and clipped a pass into the box, a Kirriemuir defender got a foot to it but only managed to deflect it right into Gracie’s path and again he made no mistake as he clinically slotted the ball past Tough.
Kirriemuir were not finished yet though, despite being two men down they showed tremendous battling qualities and pulled a goal back with 15 minutes left when Sievwright hit a pot shot from 25 yards that caught McEwan cold and pulled the score back to 4-3. Their joy was to be short lived however when just a minute later Gracie turned provider, picking the ball up on the left and finding Jordan Marshall in the box. The young midfielder sent the last defender the wrong way then picked his spot in the bottom corner.
Back came Kirrie and once again Kelly was caught out on the left side, bringing down Sievewright as he was going past and picking up a second yellow. The free kick brought out a tremendous save from McEwan to keep the Jags two goals ahead and the game was finally killed off with six minutes to go when Canning played a neat one-two with Gracie who back-heeled the ball right into his path to set up an easy finish.
Gracie capped off his outstanding performance with three minutes to go when he picked up the ball on the left, beat the last defender and cut inside to unleash a powerful drive into the top corner.
A great win then for the Jags that sees them into the third round draw, but also well done to Kirriemuir for keeping going right to the end despite their disadvantage and contributing so much to a game that will last a long time in the memory.
Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 7 Kirriemuir Thistle 3
Thistle scorers: Gracie (5), Marshall, Canning
Larkhall Thistle Team:
McEwan; Reynolds, Brown, Cassidy, Kelly; Innes, Marshall, Canning, McLachlan; Gracie, McGeachie. Subs: Russell, Moss, Jack, McKeever, Clarke
Kirriemuir Thistle Squad:
Tough; Logan, Smith, S Russell, Ogg, Millar, J Russell, Fyffe, Lunan, Fraser, Lennis, Seivwright, Archibald, Stewart
Booked: Canning Sent off: Kelly
Best on the day for Thistle: Graham Gracie – no further comment needed!