Beltane Park, Wishaw
Wishaw Juniors v Larkhall Thistle
Central League First Division
A miserable day in North Lanarkshire, constant rain, wind and cold made for slippery conditions but both teams did well to produce an all-action contest with some good football thrown in. After last week’s horror show things could only get better as far as the Thistle fans were concerned and the manager made four changes with Kelly, Reynolds Reid and McKeever all starting in place of Nicholl, Burns, Payne and Gracie.
The game started with Wishaw on top and their superiority was reflected in an early goal, a corner on the right was played short and Dan Kindlan whipped in a shot from the wide angle over Jags keeper Thomson into the top corner.
Thistle came back into the game but looked to have suffered an early injury blow when Andy Brown was left hobbling after tackling McStay who had gone past Doyle and left him for dead. It was no coincidence that Wishaw nearly doubled the lead a minute later when ex Thistle man Ross McGeachie headed past from two yards.
Thistle battled back well but without creating any chances and Wishaw made it 2-0 after 32 minutes with another well taken goal by Kindlan as he turned on the penalty spot and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.
Half Time: Wishaw Juniors 2 Larkhall Thistle 1
The second half started with Wishaw on the attack and they came close a few minutes in when McStay hit the bar with a header but it was Thistle who did score through an unlikely source, as Niall Reynolds picked up the ball just outside the box and lobbed it off the bar and off the keeper’s back and in.
From this point onwards it was Thistle who dominated the game and always looked the more likely team to go on and win. Indeed ten minutes later it looked like the Jags were going to take the lead as Reid overhit a ball from the right wing but Kelly did well to keep it in and head it down for Andy Brown to shoot, his effort unluckily coming off the inside of the post.
The Jags made their only substitution with 15 minutes left, Josh Payne coming on for Ryan Innes who had put in a tremendous shift keeping Wishaw dangerman McStay in check and not letting him have a minute’s peace. Payne however gave Wishaw a different kind of problem as he ran the left back ragged for the remainder of the game.
In the 86th minute Payne was involved in the winning goal for Thistle as he whipped in a cross from the right, over the defence to David Reid at the back post. Div brought the ball under control with his first touch and fired the ball low into the corner. His extravagent celebration that followed as he took off his shirt and swung it over his head owed as much to his relief at the end of a frustrating afternoon for him as it did to Match of the Day.
The final action of the game saw a Wishaw free kick being swung in and headed into the goal for what appeared to be a dramatic last gasp equaliser but the referee had spotted an infringement and the goal was disallowed, much to the bemusement of most inside the ground.
Full Time: Wishaw Juniors 2 Larkhall Thistle 3
Website MoM: Good performances from most today with Brian Jack having a great first half in particular and not wasting a ball, but Andy Brown showed once again he is far and away the best defender at the club with another outstanding display.
S.Thomson; Doyle, Brown, Marshall, Reynolds, Burns; Innes (Payne 75), Jack, Kelly, Reid; Clarke, McKeever
Bookings: Reid, Doyle