Stagecoach West of Scotland League Central District First Division
Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Renfrew
Thistle started their league campaign in what could only be described as disastrous fashion against newly relegated Renfrew.
The visitors took the lead after only nine minutes when McDaid found space on the right and crossed for an unmarked Benton to send a well placed header into the top corner of the net. Three minutes later it was nearly two when Boyd easily went past Duris and crossed from the right, Arthur found himself alone in the six yard area but flicked the ball straight at keeper Colquhoun.
Thistle were finding it hard to create any chances with the long balls from the back being easily dealt with by a well organised Renfrew defence who always had spare men, usually against a lone striker and for a large part of the game the ball-playing Thistle midfielders weren’t getting into the game.
It took Thistle until just over the half hour mark to make their first impression on goal, good play inside the box from Brian Jack before Matty Clarke hit a close range shot at keeper Burgess’s leg.
But a minute later the Jags fell further behind when Renfrew once again exploited the defensive weakness as Benton cut inside from the right almost unchallenged to square for Arthur to pick his spot with a low drive.
The third Renfrew goal two minutes from half time was no more than they deserved. Thistle gave away possession in midfield and the ball was played out wide to McDaid, who strode down the left wing before drilling a shot past Colquhoun from the edge of the box to round off a first half horror show.
Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Renfrew 3
Despite being three goals down Thistle didn’t throw the towel in and started the second half looking determined to get back into the game, this time with the wind at their back.
Five minutes into the half the home fans saw their team produce their best moment yet, Graham Gracie held the ball up well and laid it off to Ryan Innes who crossed for Hugh Kerr to head but Burgess made a good save. In the 60th minute Jack found himself high up the park in the wide left position, he played the ball back to Duris who crossed for Kerr who got another good header that went just past. Thistle went one better a minute later when they got a goal back through a Mark Canning close range poke after good Jags pressure.
All the good work at the start of the second half was then undone when Renfrew went straight up the park and restored their three goal lead. Neil Schoneville was the unfortunate man this time who got caught out and allowed Benton to run in and curl an excellent effort into the corner.
Thistle’s only other effort of note came in 78 minutes, Innes fed the ball to Gracie and he hit a good shot that was saved well by Burgess.
The fourth goal killed the game and although the Jags made some substitutions – replacing Jack, Clarke and Innes with McKeever, Kidd and Cooke in the midfield – they never really got into the game at any stage against a well organised Renfrew side who had good movement up front and showed some clinical finishing.
Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Renfrew 4
Colquhoun; Reynolds, Schoneville, Brown, Duris; Innes (Cooke 73), Jack (McKeever 66), Canning, Clarke (Kidd 73); Gracie, Kerr Subs: Moss, McKee
Burgess; Mulgrew, Nicolson, Chisholm, Campbell, Chalk, Boyd, Forbes, Arthur, Benton, McDaid. Subs: McLeary, Quigley, Clark, Morgan, Baird (GK)
Thistle scorers: Canning
Booked: Innes, Canning, Schoneville
Best on the day for Thistle: Nothing much happening up front today and four goals conceded, so out of the midfielders Matty Clarke frustrated at times taking one too many touches but at least tried to get things going