Both clubs hoped this fixture would only be remembered for the football on the pitch and nothing else and that’s how it turned out in a thrilling high scoring encounter.
Thistle made a couple of changes with Brian Jack returning to the starting line up and Bryan Felvus on from the start on what was a bumpy and fiery pitch.
The Jags took the lead after seven minutes when a cross cum shot from Niall Reynolds deceived the home keeper, going into the net via the post. St Roch’s equalised in 10 minutes via the penalty spot after Jack brought down Mousa, who took the spot kick himself and sent Stewart Thomson the wrong way.
The home team now had the upper hand, putting the Jags under pressure and it was no surprise when a ball over the top of the Thistle defence allowed McLuskey to nip in and dink the ball past the helpless Thomson.
At this stage very little was seen from Thistle apart from a couple of shots which did not trouble Stark, the home keeper. Stark then fumbled a Felvus shot and Niall Reynolds was unlucky not to net the rebound. Worse was to follow for Thistle when Mousa netted after Thomson saved but could not hold a net-bound shot from St Roch’s Jarvis.
Half time: St Roch’s 3 Larkhall Thistle 1
Worse was to follow for Thistle just two minutes into the second half, when a McLuskey shot cannoned off the post and Irvine netted the rebound to make it 4-1. At this point things looked bleak for the Jags but after 53 minutes they got back into the game when Ryan Innes crashed the ball into the net from a corner.
St Roch’s came back strongly and Thomson had to produce a series of fine saves to prevent what would have been a rout and Thistle manager Dunky Sinclair decided to replace Scott Nicholl with Josh Payne.
In 61 minutes David Reid gave the Jags real hope with a fine header at the back post from a pinpoint cross to make it 4-3. Gary McStay and Graham Gracie then replaced Bryan Felvus and Matty Clarke as the Jags went all out to get back on level terms.
Reid then had a great opportunity for his second goal when a fine pass from Gracie put him through, but after rounding the keeper he found the angle too tight and the ball went harmlessly past. Thomson then had another two fine stops as St Roch’s tried to put the game beyond the Jags. With four minutes remaining Thistle equalised when Gracie latched onto a through ball, rounded the home centre half and struck a fine shot past Stark. The game ended with the home defence clearing a Nial Reynolds free kick.
Full time: St Roch’s 4 Larkhall Thistle 4
S. Thomson; Reynolds, Marshall, Brown, Burns; Reid, Innes, Jack, Nicholl (Payne); Felvus (McStay), Clarke (Gracie). Subs: Doyle, D. Thomson (GK).
Like Monday at Lesmahagow, another fantastic comeback from what looked an impossible position. One thing for sure no one can question the spirit and character of the players. Paul Burns had one of his best games in the jersey and Brian Jack put in another hard shift in the middle of the park but the M.O.M. award goes to Stewart Thomson who had some fine stops at final times during the game. Everyone in the jersey today stuck to the task to secure a well earned point.