Craighead Park, Lesmahagow
Lesmahagow v Larkhall Thistle
Sectional League Cup – Game 4
Thistle put themselves into pole position for qualification from Section 1 with a surprisingly convincing win at old rivals Lesmahagow. The Jags completed their fixtures with 9 poins and a goal difference of +8, Lesmahagow and Lanark each have a game to play on Saturday against Forth and Royal Albert respectively and have goal differences of +1 and +3, so a big win for either of them could see them win the section.
Lesmahagow got off to a flying start with a goal virtually straight from the kickoff. The Jags were completely caught cold down the problem left side of defence again and full back Paul Burns was no match for the Gow winger who went past him and crossed for the first goal. More early pressure from the home side could have made matters worse but Thistle gradually came into the game and began to look for an equaliser which did arrive in the 13th minute, Matty Clarke hooking the ball home from close range after a scramble in the Lesmahagow defence.
Larkhall took the lead 10 minutes later when Gary McStay set up Matty Clarke in the middle of the box, he had time and space to drag the ball back and send the keeper the wrong way before rolling the ball into the corner. Thistle took charge of the game from then on and were rarely troubled again, Gow’s only other half chance in the first half being a long ball over the top that their striker got a head to but was put off enough by keeper Alan Colquhoun to send it over the bar.
Half Time: Lesmahagow 1 Larkhall Thistle 2
Manager Dunky Sinclair was forced into an early second half substitution when Ryan Innes went off in the 50th minute with an injury, possibly a dead-leg, to be replaced by winger Josh Payne. It proved to be a stroke of luck as the young lad had a tremendous half tearing the Gow defence apart with his tireless running.
Thistle’s first real chance of the second half came in the 54th minute from a great move, a ball through to McStay who backheeled it into the path of Clarke and his ball across the six yard line was just missed by Reid who was sliding in to meet it. The goal looked like it was coming though and the Jags went 3-1 up after 63 minutes, Payne again doing well on the right wing and setting up Clarke in front of goal, he sent the defender the wrong way and the ball was pounced on by Jordan Marshall arriving late into the box and driving it into the corner.
Four minutes later and Thistle were beginning to look like the could run riot when they added a fourth. The Lesmahagow defence was caught cold too high up the park and when Thistle broke up the hill they found themselves with a 5 v 3 advantage, Clarke drifted past one of the defenders and played the ball right to McStay who squared for Hugh Kelly to place the ball in the bottom corner for a rare goal.
Thistle had several opportunities to add to their lead, the best of which fell to Clarke who shot past and Reid who hid the post after a good run. Gow pulled a late goal back to make the score look a bit more respectable and again it exposed the Jags on the left of defence, keeper Colquhoun also slipping up by allowing himself to be beaten at his near post from range. Young Liam Thomson was the unluckiest pesson in the ground when his debut was spoiled by a paperwork glitch, Brian Jack coming on instead to replace McStay.
A good finish to the group section from Thistle but they still look to be a work in progress and looking to find their best team.
Full Time: Lesmahagow 1 Larkhall Thistle 2
Colquhoun; Brown, Schoneville, Reynolds, Burns; Innes (Payne 50), Marshall, Kelly, Reid; McStay (Jack 83), Clarke
Scorers: Clarke (2), Marshall, Kelly
Booked: Burns, Kelly, Reid, Reynolds.