Stagecoach West of Scotland League Central District First Division
Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Maryhill
Larkhall Thistle and Maryhill fought out a dour battle at Gasworks Park today which showed why both teams were at the wrong end of the table going into the game. Both teams struggled throughout to get any kind of control of the match and in the end it took an injury time winner from Thistle centre half Adam Cassidy to separate the teams just as the goalless draw looked a certain outcome.
The Jags started the game with nearly a full squad available, only Brian Jack was missing through being on honeymoon. Defender Stephen Wedlock had left the club earlier in the week by mutual consent, having played a total of seven minutes before being sent off on his debut.
Maryhill made the better start to the game and fired out early warnings that Thistle were going to have a tough time of it with a volley from Rossi going close in the fifth minute, then keeper Davie McEwan having to dive to make a good save a minute later. Hill kept up the pressure and almost scored five minutes later with a free-kick that crashed off the underside of the bar and bounced out just on the wrong side of the line.
Thistle hadn’t created anything of note as yet and the pattern was to continue with the game getting bogged down in midfield until Mark Canning won the ball in the middle of the park and swept a tremendous crossfield ball right into the path of Graham Gracie for the striker to run on to, he was clean in on goal but beaten to the ball and felt sure he was fouled in the process. Despite his claims though the referee was in no mood to award a penalty.
Maryhill countered and a minute later had the ball in the net but the referee had blown well before and clearly the goal wasn’t going to stand. Cassidy was booked a minute after that for an off the ball incident that only the refereee seemed to spot. The first half ended with Maryhill on top and Mason went close after a neat move on the left, then full back Wilson broke down the right and a cross / shot fizzed just over the bar.
Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Maryhill 0
Gracie got the second half action underway in the first minute when he cut inside from the right and went close with a left foot shot then in 52 minutes really should have opened the scoring with the Jags best chance of the game so far. JP Grant sent a great ball over the top into space for Gracie to run on to and he just had the keeper to beat but slid his shot past the post. Maryhill reminded the Jags that it wasn’t going to be all one-way traffic when they nearly took the lead two minutes later – striker Murray swung a leg out and connected with a long ball, his volley going just past the post.
Thistle continued the recent pattern of dominating the second half of home games this season though and Canning sent a half volley just past the post, followed by Gracie missing another chance after good build up play involving Grant and McLachlan. It was to be young Scott’s last involvement as he was replaced just after that by Jordan Marshall.
Mark Canning picked up a booking for protesting at a bizaree refereeing decision when a goal kick was awarded after a Hill player clearly headed the ball past and Marshall also got a soft booking for what looked like nothing more than a tackle.
With the game heading towards stalemate, Thistle won a throw on the left side of the park which was taken by Gracie. When the ball came back out he swung in a perfect cross for Cassidy to meet full on and bullet an unstoppable header into the top corner giving Baker in the Hill goal no chance.
A very welcome three points for the Jags in the end but on the evidence of this performance still well short of being a team that is going to make any sort of real challenge.
Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Maryhill 0
Thistle Scorer: Cassidy
Larkhall Thistle Team:
McEwan; Reynolds, Brown, Cassidy, Kelly; McLachlan, Grant, Canning, McKeever; Gracie, McGeachie Subs: Innes, Russell, Moss, Marshall, Duris
Booked: Cassidy, Canning, Marshall
Baker, D Wilson, Wells, Lundie, Banks, Callender, Ellis, Rossi, Murray, O’Donnell, Mason
Subs: Scobie, M Wilson, Paton, Ferguson, Atkin
Best for Thistle on the day was Andy Brown who handled everything that was thrown at him and was the main reason Thistle kept a clean sheet.