New Coin Holdings West of Scotland Cup Round 2
Beechwood Park, Auchinleck
Auchinleck Talbot v Larkhall Thistle
Larkhall Thistle were on the end of the draw every team in the competition wanted to avtoid, a trip to possibly the best junior team in the country at the moment. The Talbot pitch looked as pristine as ever despite the torrential rain that had seen off a few junior fixtures on the day as the Jags kicked off towards the shed end. Larkhall made three changes with Schoneville, Jack and Gracie coming in for Innes, Kelly and McGeachie.
Thistle started well and looked to be enjoying the wide open spaces of Beechwood as they played some good passing football – although without any kind of threat towards the Auchinleck goal. However the bad news for the Jags was that it lasted all of six minutes before Talbot started to assert their superiority, when Wilson had a chance from a couple of yards out that Jags keeper Colquhoun fumbled but the defence scrambled clear. Then Milliken set up Hyslop who looked set to score but for a tremendous diving block from Schoneville. It was only postponing the inevitable though and in the 11th minute a mix up in the Jags defence where Brown and Reynolds left the ball for each other and Colquhoun didn’t come to collect it left Hyslop with the easiest of chances to roll the ball into the net.
Five minutes later Thistle nearly got back level when Canning slipped a pass through the centre of the Talbot defence to send McKeever clear but a great last ditch tackle by Pope robbed him of the chance to pull the trigger.
Almost unbelievably Auchinleck’s second goal again came from two Thistle players hesitating and leaving the ball to each other in the right midfield, Milliken said thank you and headed off down the wing before crossing to the back post for Hyslop to head in at the back post.
The Jags managed a period of consolidation and held their own for a spell before the home side extended their lead further on the half hour mark. Again a defensive lapse cost the Jags dear as David Reid tried to play the ball out of the box and lost possession, the ball working its way to the right hand edge of the box where Wilson had time time to pick his spot with a chip to the back post.
Three minutes later Thistle had their hopes raised as Mark McKeever had the ball in the net but the goal was chalked off, however they did manage to pull one back in the 38th minute with the goal of the game. Canning sent Graham Gracie away with a pass down the right channel, Gracie took the ball into the box then was faced with two Talbot defenders and seemed to hesitate before laying the ball back for Canning who swept a fantastic curling effort into the top corner.
The Jags were lifted by the goal and should have added to it five minutes later when Gracie was sent clean through one on one with keeper Leishman, but hit the ball right at him as the keeper stood his ground.
Half Time: Auchinleck Talbot 3 Larkhall Thistle 1
Larkhall started the second half looking to build on their goal and to be honest were the better side in the first 15 minutes, a period in which they had a somewhat soft penalty claim turned down and assistant manager Tam McLaughlin sent to the stand for voicing his opinion towards the linesman.
The game was killed off as a contest in the 64th minute when Talbot extended their lead to three again, it started with Thistle on the attack but a slack pass from Scott Nicholl was intercepted and Auchinleck again broke down the left wing where Milliken had run riot all day. This time they got a shot away that looked like a mis-hit that was going over the bar but it seemed to confuse everybody and landed in the net.
Back came the Jags two minutes later though and should really have scored with their best move of the game. Schoneville showed he has a bit of football about him with a great through ball to McKeever who laid it off for Gracie to spin in behind the last defender and go clear one on one again with Leishman. This time the big striker kept his compusure and got the ball past the keeper but Leishman had managed to get enough on it to take the sting out of it and it stoppped harmlessly in the middle of the box.
Auchinleck had a golden opportunity to make it five from yet another move that began on the left and saw the ball fizzed across the six yard area where the Talbot man was sliding in and managed to skew it over the bar from five yards out with the goal empty.
The home side did get another goal on the final whistle, a ball into the Jags box found Young who shimmied the Thistle defence and created a space to flick the ball into the middle of the net.
It was a game that Thistle never expected to take anything from but hardly helped their cause with three costly defensive errors that saw them go three goals down. However they didn’t let themselves down against a Talbot team that operate on an altogether different level.
Full Time: Auchinleck Talbot 5 Larkhall Thistle 1
Colquhoun; Reynolds, Schoneville, Brown, Nicholl (Cooke 80); Jack (Clarke 65), Canning, Marshall, Reid; McKeever, Gracie. Subs: McPhee
Thistle scorers: Canning
Booked: Nicholl, Reid, Colquhoun
Best on the day for Thistle: Mark Canning had a great second half and sprayed the ball about well, Mark McKeever also put in a good shift but Andy Brown kept the Jags in the game in the first half with a fantastic defensive performance, his best since Banks o’ Dee.