Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Carluke Rovers
Thistle took on a Carluke side that was flying in third place in the league, having gone on a sensational run of eight straight wins to get there. The Jags defeats at Wishaw and Lanark in their last two outings didn’t fill the home fans with much hope for the game.
Manager Dunky sinclair recalled Hugh Kelly in midfield after his three game ban, he took the place of Matty Clarke. Scott Nicholl and Niall Reynolds returned to their regular full back positions with Mark McKeever moving forward to midfield and David McPhee dropping to the bench.
The game got off to a flying start when Jordan Marshall put Reynolds through in the second minute, he was tripped in the box and Graham Gracie slotted the penalty confidently.
That was the end of the major incidents though for a long spell, the game settled into a midfield slog and the next real chance was a header from Ross McGeachie in the 31st minute which was followed up a minute or two later by an effort from the left wing position that Colquhoun got down low to save.
The equaliser came six minutes from the interval and it was a bulleted diving header into the top corner that gave Colquhoun absolutely no chance, unfortunately for Jags defender Neil Schoneville it was him who scored it.
Just before the break Gracie did well to get away from his marker and find space on the left side of the penalty area to get a net-bound shot away, the keeper’s blushes were saved by a defender who got back to block the shot.
Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Carluke Rovers 1
Larkhall started the second half on the attack and Jordan Marshall was first to try his luck in the first minute with a shot that went just over the bar. Carluke replied five minutes later with an attack that produced a great double save from Colquhoun and then had a half-hearted appeal for a penalty turned down for a challenge on Weir.
Seven minutes into the half Thistle regained the lead when a long pass from Colquhoun was brought down well by Gracie and on his second touch he dinked it over the advancing keeper into the empty net.
Rovers went close to levelling the game in the 61st minute after good hold up play on the left set up the striker for a shot that he put just past the post. The equaliser did come a minute later though from another defensive howler, Colquhoun shouted for the ball but Schoneville decided to play it instead of leaving it, the ball fell unkindly for Jags and was slotted in.
Thistle took the lead again for the third time on 71 minutes and once again it was from a long ball to Gracie, this time the provider was Scott Nicholl and agin the big striker took a great touch and beat the keeper, slotting it through his legs.
The Jags produced their best passage of play seven minutes from time when they could have put the game out of sight. After good build up play from McGeachie and Brown, Reynolds put in a great cross from the right that Marshall met perfectly – he bulleted a header towards the roof of the net that the Carluke keeper did very well to tip over.
Two minutes later came the first of a couple of controversial decisions that sparked fury on both sides. Firstly Colquhoun ran out of his box and mistimed a tackle in an attempt to break up a Carluke attack and was booked although the visitors were screaming for a red.
Carluke got their third equaliser a minute from time, a corner was heading in but was blocked on the line by Nicholl, the clearance only went as only as far as Stark who headed back into the net.
Moments later Jags midfielder Hugh Kelly attempted a clearance and was caught in a melee, the overreaction from Carluke’s Smillie convinced the referee that both he and Kelly deserved a second yellow.
In the end it was a game that both sides will feel they could have won but were both probably quite happy not to lose.
Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Carluke Rovers 3
Colquhoun; Reynolds, Brown, Schoneville, Nicholl (Reid 71); Jack, Marshall, Kelly, McKeever; McGeachie, Gracie. Subs: Clarke, McPhee, Cooke
Thistle scorers: Gracie 3
Booked: Nicholl, Colquhoun Sent off: Kelly
Best on the day for Thistle: It would be a brave man to go against the guy who scored a hat-trick so it’s Graham Gracie.