Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Royal Albert
Euroscot Eng Central League Cup Round 2
It was a fine sunny night that was perfect for football but unfortunately for the decent crowd the football didn’t turn up. Thistle and Albert fought out a drab 1-1 draw that was only saved as a spectacle by two goals that didn’t really belong in such a poor quality game.
The first half started with both teams contesting the match on a fairly even footing but as the half wore on it was apparent that the team who wanted it most on the night was Albert. They battled harder for every ball (with the notable exception of Thistle’s Ryan Innes) and seemed determined to salvage something from what had been a disastrous season for them in the league.
The first half passed by without a single clear-cut chance for either team and without an incident worthy of note.
Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Royal Albert 0
The second half carried on where the first had left it and it was more of the same until 10 minutes in when Graham Gracie took matters in hand for the Jags. He got possession of the ball on the right side of the park and shook off the Albert defence before firing a vicious left footed drive into the bottom corner of the keeper’s near side.
The visitors were stung into even more determined action by the goal and looked even more determined to get back into the game but the equaliser came completely out of the blue, a fantastic 30 yard effort right into the top corner over the despairing Thomson in the Thistle goal.
The Jags made their only substitution of the game when Brian Jack came on to replace Hugh Kelly and it left most wondering why it took so long to get Jacko onto the park. His impact was immediate as he took control of the ball in midfield and kept hold of it rather than the fruitless punts that had been the feature of the game until then.
It took until two minutes into stoppage time for Thistle to produce their only real attacking move of any quality, David Reid took the ball forward on the left wing and fed it into Gracie, who cut inside and beat a man before setting up Innes who curled his shot just past the post.
And that was about it, a draw at full time that Thistle could hardly say they really deserved. All credit to Albert for taking the game to them and they can count themselves unlucky not to win it in the ninety minutes.
Penalties followed taken into the Gasworks end and with an early miss each it went to sudden death. Stokoe missed the decisive kick for the Albert and Jags keeper Thomson getting what passed for the glory of hitting the winning penalty.
Thistle will now be away to St Roch’s in the third round.
Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Royal Albert 1 (8-7 on penalties)
S.Thomson, Payne, Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl: Innes, Kelly (Jack 79), Reid, McKeever; Gracie, Clarke
Website MoM: Although Graham Gracie is worthy of a mention for his goal, it says it all about the performance that the award is going to Brian Jack who looked different class when he came on.