Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Vale of Clyde
On paper Thistle went into this game with still an outside chance of promotion, with eight games left to play they sat eight points behind second placed Carluke with two games in hand. The reality however was that teams like Lesmahagow, Dunipace and Blantyre Vics all had games in hand and the chances of Jags going up were slim at best.
After the midweek disappointment of losing to Thorniewood on penalties despite having the majority of good chances, Thistle were looking to build on last weekend’s 6-1 win away to Ashfield but this stalemate ensured that they stayed in the mid table zone.
The Jags started without McKeever, Gracie and Reid and looked short of pace and any real threat going forward for most of the first half. They struggled to get any sort of action in the final third and were reduced to a couple of tame efforts that didn’t trouble the Vale keeper.
Vale of Clyde weren’t any better in a dull first half with their best efforts coming from a couple of free kicks that were easily mopped up by the Jags defence. It took until the 44th minute for any real quality to show and it led to the opening goal of the game. Ross McGeachie rose well to meet a long ball forward from Kelly in the left back position and headed it down perfectly into the path of Ryan Innes who didn’t break his stride as he ran on to the ball and slotted it low past the keeper.
Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Vale of Clyde 0
Although it hadn’t been the most convincing of first half leads, Thistle came out at the start of the second half and doubled it almost right away. Another long ball out of defence by Cooke was controlled once again by McGeachie who laid it perfectly into the path of Matty Clarke who took two touches to get himself clear of the defence and another to roll the ball into the corner.
Six minutes gone in the second half, and that was just about it for Thistle. It was Vale of Clyde all the way from then on until the final whistle as the visitors came storming back and dominated the last 40 minutes.
Thistle were having a torrid time in the right side of the defence as the Vale No.9 ran them ragged, the boy looked a very good player at that level and quite honestly none of the Jags defenders could live with his pace and trickery.
The goal that got Vale back into the game was from the penalty spot and had a touch of inevitability about it, it had been coming for a while and there were no complaints from the home side about the award.
Graham Gracie replaced McGeachie straight after the goal but two minutes later the sides were level and while the goal was deserved on the run of play, it had more than a touch of good fortune to is as a wicked deflection gave Alan Colquhoun in the Jags goal no chance.
Two minutes later Colquhoun saved a point for Thistle as he came out to outwit the Vale striker who had been put clean through one on one. Dunky Sinclair made another substitution just after the equaliser as he brought on David McPhee for Ian Cooke to try and see out the last eight minutes with at least a point.
It was backs to the wall for the rest of the game for Jags with the only real respite coming right at the end when Gracie took the ball down the left wing and put over a cross that unfortunately had nobody on the end of it.
It turned out to be a disappointing day for both sides, Thistle for letting a two goal lead slip and Vale of Clyde for not winning a game they probably thought they should have won.
Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Vale of Clyde 2
Colquhoun; Brown, Reynolds, Schoneville, Kelly; Cooke (McPhee 82), Innes, Marshall, Jack; McGeachie (Gracie 77), Clarke. Subs: Moss
Thistle scorers: Innes, Clarke
Best on the day for Thistle: No real outstanding performances but Ross McGeachie’s contribution in setting up the two goals gets him the vote.