Clyde Gateway Stadium, Rutherglen
Rutherglen Glencairn v Larkhall Thistle
Euroscot Eng Central League Cup
Thistle made their second visit to the Clyde Gateway Stadium in Rutherglen in what might have been their last game of the season. The stadium is probably the pick of the new built junior parks as it at least is a grass playing surface but it does have a slope and the Jags started the game kicking up it.
Only Ryan Innes was missing from what would probably have been the first choice team, Hugh Kelly started in his place in centre midfield. Glencairn had former Thistle player Brian Eadie at left back and it was good to see him back fit and well.
The game started with Glencairn pressing the Jags goal and the first chance of the game came after seven minutes when David Reid sliced the ball high into the air and it was met on the volley, the shot going wide. Larkhall should have taken the lead in 11 minutes when Matty Clarke squared to Brian Jack in acres of space only 8 yards out but he over-deliberated and curled his shot wide. Clarke was involved again when he laid the ball right onto Josh Payne’s head in the same spot but again the chance went begging.
Thistle took the lead in 31 minutes when Graham Gracie latched on to a knock-on and broke free. The striker, on a great scoring run, never looked in danger of missing and slotted easily inside the left post from 10 yards. Just before half time Jack sent Gracie away again and after some nice footwork he played it back to Jacko who again shot wide from the same spot as he had earlier.
Half time: Glencairn 0 Larkhall Thistle 1
Glencairn got off to a quick start and a break in the first minute nearly caught the Thistle defence out, only desperate defending resulting in strong penalty claims prevented the goal. The Jags replied immediately, Payne ran on to a pinpoint lobbed pass from Clarke and played the ball across the box just too close to the keeper for Gracie to reach.
Thistle’s next real attempt at goal came after 62 minutes when Scott Nicholl almost caught the keeper out from a free kick with a cheeky lob and that was followed up by Payne hitting a decent effort across the keeper from the edge of the box.
The Jags had a let-off midway through the half when an attempted clearance came back off the bar, then the Glens No 6 had a great run through the middle with a shot that went just past the post.
Reid picked up another needless booking to cap a disappointing evening for him and could well have got himself sent off for a petulant foul moments later.
Glencairn equalised from a disputed free kick ten minutes from the end, Thomson made a good stop but the rebound was poked home by Dunnachie. It looked like it was game on and with the distinct possibility of penalties looming, Thistle were awarded a penalty for handball that the referee spotted though a clump of players.
Gracie stepped up and coolly rolled the ball into the net to put the Jags back in front. Matty Clarke had a golden opportunity to seal the tie when he got possession with the keeper stranded out of his goal, however he decided not to take the shot on and the chance was lost.
A great win for Thistle that puts them into a semi-final for the first time in a long while, on the back of a long unbeaten end to the season. They will now travel to Pollok in what looks to be a real test but hopefully the Jags can carry on the good work.
Full time: Glencairn 1 Larkhall Thistle 2
Scorer: Gracie 2
Booked: Nicholl, Reid, Clarke, Gracie
S Thomson; Reynolds, Marshall, Brown, Nicholl; Jack, Innes, Payne, Reid; Gracie, Clarke. Subs: D Thomson (GK), McKeever, Doyle
Website MoM:A very difficult task tonight with seven or eight players at or near their best, the whole defence was excellent and Josh Payne impressed again but Matty Clarke did a great job all night of holding the ball up and playing his team mates in, as well as delivering all Thistle’s best balls in an attacking sense.