Westfield Park, Denny
Dunipace v Larkhall Thistle
Central League First Division
After suffering heavy defeats in Denny in the last few seasons, Thistle went out determined to set the record straight and were on top for the early part of the game, taking the lead after 15 minutes. Josh Payne ignored calls for an easy ball and swept a great crossfield ball to Graham Gracie’s feet, the big striker took a touch to set himself and fired a low shot across the keeper into the corner.
Nothing much else happened until the half hour mark when Payne found himself in acres of space at the back post and forced a good save from the home keeper and soon after Dunipace had their best effort from a free kick 20 yards out that went just over the bar.
Gary McStay saved himself for the last five minutes of the half but he might well have had a hand in two goals. First he played a one-two with Scott Nicholl before setting up Gracie – the keeper pulling off a point blank save. Then just before half time he sent David Reid clear but his chip came off the bar.
Half Time: Dunipace 0 Larkhall Thistle 1
The second half began with early chances for both sides, Reid causing havoc in the Dunipace defence but then the Jags showing their defensive frailties and almost allowing an equaliser on a couple of occasions. The best chance however fell to Gracie whose poke at goal was cleared off the line when it looked a goal all the way.
Thistle made a double substitution after an hour, Reynolds and Clarke replacing Doyle and McStay and nearly got an immediate payoff as Reynolds headed down for Gracie six yards out in front of the goal but he somehow stubbed his shot. He did get his second minutes later though when he took a ball from Payne and hit a pot-shot from 22 yards into the bottom corner. The Jags made their final substitution straight after the goal, Kelly for Nicholl.
The Jags extended their lead midway through the half when Reynolds found himself unchallenged in the box and rolled the ball past the keeper and by that stage they were in complete control of the game and there were murmumings from some of the home support of a possible repeat of the eight goals they conceded on Monday.
Thistle went further ahead after 74 minutes when Gracie spotted the keeper off his line and chipped into the empty net for 4-0
but the goal of the game followed minutes later when Kelly side-footed a misplaced shot over the keeper into the top corner.
Dunipace pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute from a simple cross and header to ruin the clean sheet and Gracie had a goal chalked off for offside a minute later, but four minutes later Clarke made it 6-1 – tapping in from a Reid cross.
A good day for Thistle that unfortunately owed as much to the sad demise of Dunipace as it did to their own performance. There were plenty of chances for both teams in a game that could literally have ended 12-6 and hopefully for them Dunipace can turn their fortunes round sooner rather than later.
Full Time: Dunipace 1 Larkhall Thistle 6
Scorer: Gracie (3), Reynolds Kelly, Clarke
S.Thomson, Doyle (Reynolds 60), Marshall, Brown, Burns; Payne, Nicholl (Kelly 74), Jack, Reid; Gracie, McStay (Clarke 60)
Website MoM: Good first halfs for Brian Jack and Josh Payne and a very good second half for David Reid but MoM has to go to Graham Gracie for his hat-trick