Newbyres Park, Gorebridge
Arniston Rangers v Larkhall Thistle
Scottish Cup Round 2
After a 2-2 draw in the first game last week at Larkhall, Thistle were 9/2 underdogs for the replay given Arniston’s home advantage. The manager had a full strength squad to pick from and decided to leave out Neil Schoneville after the big centre half’s torrid time against the pace of the Arniston front line last week. Matty Clarke was recalled to partner Graham Gracie up front and David Reid started the game wide on the left.
Neither set of supporters had much to get excited about in an uneventful opening fifteen minutes in the sunshine and mild temperatures but the Jags had their first real effort on goal as Graham Gracie attempted to chip the Rangers keeper from wide left. A decent enough try but it went past the post. Eight minutes later they were on the attack again as Reid broke from the left into the box and was only prevented from what would surely have been a goal by a brilliant last gasp challenge from the Arniston defender.
That spurred on Arniston though and a minute later they took the lead when a nice bit of trickery completely sold Niall Reynolds and left him stranded, the ball through to Leslie found him in space in the box and he evaded a lunging block from Scott Nicholl to roll it into the net.
Three minutes later Arniston should have doubled the lead when a shot from the left by a player who had far too much space narrowly skimmed past the post with Colquhoun looking beaten.
31 minutes into the game Thistle thought they had equalised. Gracie did well on the right flank to create a bit of space and put in Mark McKeever on the edge of the box, the winger hit a shot that was going well past the post but Reid had anticipated well and stole in at the back post to tap the ball into the net. Being generous to the referee, it was a difficult call to make but from his position there was no way he could have seen Reid in an offside position.
The Jags continued to press for the rest of the first half and dominated play without really creating much in the way of concrete chances, the best effort coming just before the break when a period of possession ended with Clarke taking on the shot which he swept over the bar.
Half Time: Arniston Rangers 1 Larkhall Thistle 0
Thistle have had an unwanted recent record of conceding goals early in the second half of games and fans would have been forgiven for thinking that keeping it tight after the restart would have been top priority. But no, once again just two minutes into the half Arniston scored again. McFadden got the ball on the edge of the box and fired in a shot that looked like it wouldn’t trouble Colquhoun too much but somehow as he dived to his near post it managed to squirm out from under him and end up in the net.
Arniston could have finished the game as a contest just nine minutes into the half after another mix up in defence, Colquhoun made a save from the initial shot but the rebound was fizzed across the goal and was just lacking a finishing touch from the Gers player sliding in at the back post.
Manager Dunky Sinclair decided a change was needed to try and get Thistle back into the game and his answer was to make a double substitution – replacing Gracie and Clarke with McStay and Payne. Unfortunately neither of the two subs made much of an impact and the Jags never really looked like getting back into the game.
Thistle’s cause suffered a further setback when Scott Nicholl picked up two bookings in a six minute spell to leave the side down to ten men. The first came after a scuffle that he got himself involved in and the second could easily have been a red card itself as he overstretched into a tackle in the middle of the park after overhitting the ball out of defence.
Neil Schoneville was the final throw of the dice, replacing Andy Brown but going into attack in a last ditch effort to save the tie. In fairness he did make a bit of an impact, almost scoring a couple of minutes after coming on with a header from a corner but minutes later the numbers were levelled when Arniston’s Jeffries was sent off for a tackle.
The Jags were pressing hard in the closing stages and nearly scored when Schoneville flicked on for Reid who took the ball in and forced a great save from the Arniston keeper with two minutes left.
A minute later Thistle gave themselves a lifeline with a goal from Reid. McStay had controlled the ball well and laid it off to Ryan Innes who shot across the keeper, he managed to parry the ball but it landed perfectly for Div who blasted it into the net from close range.
Injury time meant that there was still a chance for an equaliser but a moment of slackness from Reynolds sealed the tie. He tried to dribble the ball out of defence and got caught in possession, it was laid off to Thomson on the left and his low shot gave Colquhoun no chance.
A hard fought Scottish Cup tie that could have gone either way – especially if the referee hadn’t disallowed the Jags first half effort for offside but again it was defensive frailties that cost them dear.
Full Time: Arniston Rangers 3 Larkhall Thistle 1
Website MoM: A solid performance by Brian Jack who got through a lot of work in midfield and hardly wasted a ball all day.
Colquhoun; Reynolds, Brown (Schoneville 74), Marshall, Nicholl; Reid, Jack, Innes, McKeever; Clarke (Payne 63), Gracie (McStay 63). Subs: Kelly, Thomson (GK)
Red Card: Nicholl