Keanie Park, Johnstone
Johnstone Burgh v Larkhall Thistle
Central League First Division
Thistle captain Mark Canning was withdrawn from the starting line-up after suffering an injury in the pre-match warm up, so Brian Jack returned to the team in midfield.
The Jags took the lead after 15 minutes following a great run by Josh Payne down the right. Shots by Graham Gracie and Matty Clarke were blocked before the ball dropped to Jack four yards out for the easiest of finishes. There was a suspicion of offside and the claims from the home team went on loud and long but the referee allowed the goal to stand.
The Jags almost added to the lead shortly after when Ryan Innes stooped to bullet a close range header off the bar from a corner.
Johnstone Burgh equalised minutes before half time with a goal that came out of the blue, completely against the run of play in a first half Larkhall had dominated. They won a corner on Thistle’s right and found an unmarked head on the edge of the box, he directed it towards goal and Burgh’s Stephen Fitzpatrick nipped in to get a second header on it and divert it past the helpless David Thomson in the Jags goal.
Right on the half time whistle Thistle passed up another great chance to go in ahead when Gracie did well to hold the ball up and lay it off to Clarke whose shot was saved.
Half time: Johnstone Burgh 1 Larkhall Thistle 1
The Jags started the second half looking determined to get back in front and took the lead again after five minutes when Clarke did well to control and turn and fire a shot low into the corner.
The third goal came a few minutes later, Gracie picked up the ball in the wide right position and cut inside across the edge of the box, leaving several defenders trailing before back-heeling the ball into Paynes path – the youngster making no mistake with a great drive into the corner.
Burgh to their credit didn’t take the setback lying down and came back into it, creating a couple of good chances in what was their best spell of the game.
The home side did pull a goal back in 65 minutes when Scott Nicholl deflected a cross into his own net, although he might have played it with his hand and could have been lucky to stay on if it hadn’t been a goal.
Thistle made their only substitution in 73 minutes when Mark McKeever came on for Clarke.
Five minutes from time Jack got his second goal of the game to make it 4-2 when Payne took a ball from the right that swung over the keeper and set him up for an easy finish from 10 yards.
David Reid got a second booking for dissent in the dying minutes and spoiled what had been a good performance up till then.
The result sees the Jags go level on points at the top of the league with Cambuslang Rangers and St Roch’s.
Website Man of The Match: A good performance from Liam Mushett at right back, solid in everything he did and also from Jack and Innes in the middle of the park but this week again it goes to Josh Payne who tore the right back apart in the second half and contributed to three of the goals.
Full time: Johnstone Burgh 2 Larkhall Thistle 4
D. Thomson; Mushett, Reynolds, Nicholl; Kelly, Payne, Jack, Innes, Reid; Clarke (McKeever 73), Gracie. Subs: Stewart, Brown, S.Thomson (GK), Burns, Doyle
Scorers: Jack (2), Clarke, Payne
Sent off: Reid