Wishaw Juniors 2 Larkhall Thistle 1 – 14th March Central League First Division
Beltane Park, Wishaw
Wishaw Juniors v Larkhall Thistle
The rain that had been around for the last few weeks thankfully cleared up for long enough to get a game on today but by the end of it most of the travelling Larkhall Thistle followers must have wished it hadn’t.
With Ross McGeachie away on work duties and Hugh Kelly and Mark Canning suspended, there was a rare starting place for Ian Cooke in right midfield.
Thistle created their first chance of the game after five minutes from a move down the left, David Reid whipped in a good cross that Mark McKeever turned just past the far post, that was followed moments later by a speculative drive from Brian Jack that also went past the post.
The Jags had the upper hand in the early part of the game but never really troubled the Wishaw keeper and after 17 minutes Larkhall got a taste of what was to come when Wishaw broke down the left and fired a shot across Alan Colquhoun that went just past the post.
Thistle did get the breakthrough though on 21 minutes, Colqhoun punched clear from a corner and Reid completed the clearance, finding McKeever on halfway. The winger slid in and squared the ball to Mark Reynolds on the halfway line who broke clear and ran all the way to the penalty box, where he went down and was awarded a penalty.
Two Wishaw players were booked in the protests afterwards and to be honest their anger was understandable, the penalty was soft to say the least.
Wishaw replied again with another break down the left, this time Alan Colquhoun just managed to get a fingertip to the shot to prevent the goal. More was to follow just before half time when yet another Wishaw breakaway looked certain to end in a goal but somehow the shot rebounded back off the inside of the post and into Colquhoun’s arms.
The Jags were coming under some heavy pressure now and it was no surprise when Wishaw equalised right on half time. It was also no surprise that the goal came from a penalty that looked like it was evening the score in terms of soft decisions.
Colquhoun once again produced a tremendous penalty save but only Ryan Innes looked interested enough to follow up and win the second ball, he had too much ground to make up however and the Wishaw man beat him to it to tap in the rebound.
Half Time: Wishaw Juniors 1 Larkhall Thistle 1
Scott Nichol replaced Cooke at half time but the half had just got going when Ryan Innes was shown a straight red for a tackle on the half way line.
Wishaw took the lead seven minutes into the second half with a shambles of a goal from a defensive point of view. The goal came from a move down the right and despite three chances to get a challenge in, the ball was squared across the goal where the Wishaw man beat two Thistle defenders to the ball to squeeze the ball in.
Eleven minutes into the half the Jags suffered another major blow when Niall Reynolds was shown a second yellow card for a minor altercation with a Wishaw player – who was also given his second yellow.
In fairness to Thistle, the fact that it was nine men against ten never really showed at any point and they were the dominant team for the rest of the game but the horrendous playing surface made any free-flowing passing moves impossible to put together and the home side defended dourly and effectively. There was no lack of effort from the Jags, Reid and Gracie plugged away gamely all day but there was no end product.
Matty Clarke came on in place of Mark McKeever with fifteen minutes left and did manage to get himself involved in a couple of efforts at goal, a shot from the edge of the box and a good position right in front of goal where he could maybe have taken more of a chance to get his head on the cross and draw the Jags level. The ball squirmed away but was kept in play by Reid who put in a great cross to the back post that fell perfectly for Neil Schoneville but the big defender couldn’t repeat his heroics of last time out and missed a real sitter that would have given Thistle a point.
Neil Schoneville was red carded for foul and abusive language after the final whistle following a run-in with the Wishaw linesman to add to the growing list of dismissals this season.
Full Time: Wishaw Juniors 2 Larkhall Thistle 1
Colquhoun; Jack, Brown, Schoneville, Reynolds; Cooke (Nichol 45), Innes, Marshall, Reid; McKeever (Clarke 75), Gracie. Sub: McPhee
Thistle scorer: Gracie
Booked: Gracie, Marshall. Off: Reynolds, Innes, Schoneville
Best on the day for Thistle: Keeper Alan Colquhoun’s display once again was miles ahead of anything else on show although the park can take at least a bit of the blame for the poor show.