Stagecoach West of Scotland League Central District First Division
Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Blantyre Victoria
A minute’s silence was observed for William “Rooster” Parkinson before today’s game, Rooster was a lifelong Jags supporter and went home and away as well as having spells on the Thistle committee and will be sadly missed by everyone at the club.
Manager Dunky Sinclair made four changes from last week’s opening 4-1 loss. Out went Andy Brown, James Duris, Brian Jack and Matty Clarke to make way for Jordan Marshall, Scott Nicholl, David Reid and Mark McKeever. The team had a more solid look about it and from the start they took the game to Vics but the visitors were playing a high line and their defence was well organised.
Larkhall’s first chance came after eleven minutes when Ryan Innes beat the Blantyre offside trap and drove in with the ball. He shot wide of the left hand post when he might have looked to cut it across the six yard box as there were Jags players in support. Blantyre came close to scoring six minutes later when Thistle’s Marshall mis-timed a tackle near the halfway line in front of the enclosure. The free kick was swung in to the box and Lochhead outjumped the defence to get ina good header that was well saved by Alan Colquhoun.
The Jags had their best moment of the half and probably the whole game when David Reid picked up the ball wide right in the 24th minute. He slipped his marker and cut into the box before sending a curling left foot shot across the goal, it was heading for the top corner before keeper Mullen pulled off a good save. Three minutes later it was Graham Gracie who had the chance when he turned past his marker on the edge of the box and had time to get his shot in, but it was straight at the keeper and didn’t trouble him.
Vics had a spell of pressure towards the end of the half but any shots they had were going high and wide, the best of the chances falling after a spell of possession to Eadie who blasted it into the bowling green.
The half looked like it was destined to finish goalless and probably would have if it hadn’t been for two somewhat bizarre penalty awards. The first went to Thistle four minutes from the break and it was extremely soft to say the least. Neil Schoneville was backing into his marker in the box and went down although there didn’t appear to be any hint of a foul. Mark Canning took the kick and put the Jags into what looked like it was going to be a half time lead.
However three minutes later Vics were also awarded a penalty. Galt was fouled turning inside Scott Nicholl but the referee let play go on, Nicholl having looked to have dealt with the danger then went in again and this time the spot kick was given.
Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Blantyre Victoria 1
The second half had barely started when Blantyre took the lead. The ball was fired across the six yard area from the right side and Vics’s Malcolm tapped in from two yards. They almost repeated the feat when an identical ball came in nine minutes later but this time Smith hit it as he was falling and the ball went well wide.
It took Thistle until the 64th minute to look threatening, David Reid broke clear on the right and seemed to have options to take the ball in himself or play it across into the middle but he took a poor touch with his left foot and the chance was gone.
Matty Clarke replaced the tiring McKeever in the 69th minute and added a bit of composure in the middle of the park, he had a couple of good runs but unfortunately the finishing touch was missing. The closest Thistle came to an equaliser in the second half was from a free kick on the left that Hugh Kerr met at the back post but headed just over the bar.
Vics had a couple of great chances to kill the game just before the end of the 90 minutes, the first falling to Green who managed to put the ball past the post from square on six yards out, then a late header from four yards out went past the post.
An improved display from last week’s shambles, at least there were chances created today but the Jags need to find their finishing touch soon or they might find themselves in a battle to survive.
Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Blantyre Victoria 2
Colquhoun; Reynolds, Schoneville, Marshall, Nicholl; Reid, Innes, Canning, McKeever (Clarke 69); Gracie, Kerr. Subs: Jack, Moss, Brown, Duris
Mullen; Eadie, Sinclair, McShane, Hewitt; Green, Galt, Lochhead, Smith, Christie, Malcolm. Subs: Amos, McGarry, Goodall, Davies
Thistle scorers: Canning
Best on the day for Thistle: Niall Reynolds had a solid game but Alan Colquhoun pulled off some good saves again so he gets the vote this week.