Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Thorniewood United
Central League First Division
After four wins and a draw in the last five games, Thistle were looking to end their league campaign on a high with another win. Gary McStay was the surprise starting inclusion in midfield ahead of more natural options Kelly, Nicholl and McKeever who all started on the bench. Niall Reynolds was injured so Josh Payne dropped back into defence. David Thomson in place of Stuart Thomson in goals was the other player change from Wednesday’s win against Johnstone Burgh.
Larkhall were on top in the early part of the game and once again looked like a team that should have been challenging for promotion rather than stuck in the middle of the table as the Thorniewood defence struggled to cope with the pace of David Reid on the left wing. It took until the 36th minute though for the Jags to really threaten the goal as Reid burst onto a long pass through the middle and although he started five yards behind the defender he outpaced him and was unlucky not to score.
That sparked the game into life and a minute later Reid sent a free kick just over the bar before Thorniewood replied with their first real threat as they sent a shot wide.
Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Thorniewood United 0
With the momentum behind them, Thistle looked to carry on the good work in the second half and there was only a minute and a half on the clock when they took the lead. Jordan Marshall picked up a rebound 30 yards out, looked up and picked his spot in the top left corner and unleashed a drive that gave keeper McAllister in the Thorniewood goal no chance.
As Thistle kept up the pressure, Ryan Innes could have scored after being put through by Graham Gracie but he made it easy for the keeper with a tame shot. The visitors tried to change the game in 55 minutes by making a double substitution and their veteran striker made a difference right away with a neat layoff in their best move, finished by a shot that Thomson did well to get down to and save.
Thistle were stung into action again and after fine build up play on the left, Reid hit the bar and the ball dropped at the feet of Innes right in front of the goal. As the old saying goes it looked easier to score but unfortunately Reggie hit the post with the goal at his mercy.
Thorniewood were the best team Thistle have played in the run-in and pressed hard in the final quarter of the game for an equaliser, forcing a series of corners – one of which almost curled into the top corner but for a great save by Thomson to keep it out and the next finding a Thorniewood striker unmarked at the back post with a free header that he sent wide.
As the clock ran down, Thomson had to make another great save to prevent a certain goal from a 6 yard tap-in but Thistle showed they were still in the game as an attacking force when substitute Hugh Kelly headed down for Reid who took on the shot from 30 yards and brought out a good save from McAllister.
So despite a great finish to the season Thistle finish in a somewhat disappointing 6th place, 12 points off the promotion spots and there are games throughout the season that you could point to where points could have been won.
Carluke look doomed as Vale of Clyde only need two points from three games to escape relegation along with Dunipace and St Anthony’s. Next season will see us face Forth, Benburb and Cambuslang Rangers.
Congratulations go to champions Renfrew and runners-up Maryhill.
Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Thorniewood United 0
Bookings: Clarke, Innes, Thomson
D.Thomson, Payne, Brown, Marshall, Burns (Doyle 70); McStay (Kelly 65), Innes, Jack, Reid; Gracie, Clarke
McAllister; Robb, Hamilton, Brown, Smith; McNulty, Rielly, McSorley, McIntyre; Lennon, Higgins
Website MoM: Another good display by the whole team. Div Reid caused all sorts of problems with his pace and Jordan Marshall capped a fine display with a wonder strike but the difference once again was young David Thomson in goal who preserved the lead with some vital saves.