Sectional League Cup
Tilework Park, Stonehouse
Royal Albert v Larkhall Thistle
Larkhall Thistle travelled to Albert’s current home at Stonehouse to play what might well have been the first ever derby between the teams outside Larkhall, but playing outside the town and the rainy weather both contributed to a poor crowd.
Thistle recalled Neil Schoneville at centre half with Jordan Marshall returning to midfield and Matty Clarke dropping to the bench. Albert had injury problems with captain Davie Dixon not having appeared yet this season and new signing from Thistle Scott McLachlan also not fit to play.
The first half started with Albert doing most of the pressing and they looked the team who were more fired up for the game. They had a couple of early chances but weren’t able to take advantage of a Jags defence that still looked a bit fragile. Thistle were still missing Ryan Innes in midfield and created very little going forward, a shot from Mark McKeever that keeper Smith dealt with fairly easily being the only effort of any note in the first quarter of the game.
The Jags did take the lead however in the 24th minute when a through ball from Canning caught out Albert defender Cooper who slipped on the turn on the wet surface and let Ross McGeachie through on goal. The striker took a touch and lobbed the ball over the advancing keeper into the empty net.
Thistle looked to have made it 2-0 in the 37th minute when another mix up in the home defence left McGeachie clear on goal, his shot from the right of the box was going in but Neil Reynolds got a touch to it just before it crossed the line and it was disallowed for offside.
Half Time: Royal Albert 0 Larkhall Thistle 1
Thistle made an early second half substitution with Matty Clarke replacing Ross McGeachie, the striker looking to possibly be struggling with a niggle. They had to wait until the 63rd minute for the first real chance of the second half, Reynolds made a good run down the right – helped again by a slip from a defender – and laid on a perfect ball for Clarke running in to meet it on the penalty spot but his shot went high over the bar and into the trees behind the goal.
Albert were still in the game and looked like they might be the next team to score but Thistle got a much needed boost when they brought on Ryan Innes in place of Mark McKeever. Reggie made an immediate impact with his drive and energy in the middle and five minutes later the Jags had doubled their lead.
Graham Gracie got the ball on the left wing and missed out the square ball inside to Clarke, instead he went past the defender and swung over a cross that was met by Mark Canning who fired the ball into the roof of the net.
Ian Cooke got another run out when he replaced Jordan Marshall with 12 minutes left, but the game was done and it petered out with a late effort by Gracie the only other incident worth mentioning.
The result leaves next week’s game with Lesmahagow as a winner takes all showdown, both teams now having identical records in points, goals for and goals against.
Full Time: Royal Albert 0 Larkhall Thistle 2
Colquhoun; Reynolds, Brown, Schoneville, Duris; Jack, Canning, Marshall (Cooke 78), McKeever (Innes 71); Gracie, McGeachie (Clarke 61). Sub: Moss
Thistle scorers: McGeachie, Canning
Best on the day for Thistle: Ryan Innes showed enough in the 20 minutes he was on to have been a certainty if he had played the whole game, but with no real outstanding contenders Reynolds, Canning and Brown all share the honours this week.