Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Royal Albert
Central Sectional League Cup Section 1
A win today would have left Thistle only needing a home draw with Forth in their final game to progress to a lucrative home tie against Pollok. The Jags were missing six players and it left the bench looking a bit short of options with only two outfield subs but the starting eleven could have been a first choice team from last year with the exception of new boy Craig Forbes.
Thistle are now two leagues above their Larkhall rivals and for the majority of the game played like they knew it and only had to turn up to win. It was only after going a goal down that they stepped up their game and looked like they wanted to win the game.
Albert contained some early pressure fairly comfortably and eased themselves into the game as the half wore on, looking like the team more likely to score. Thistle’s best effort came from a Brian Jack lob after a poor defensive clearance.
Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Royal Albert 0
Albert had two penalty claims at the start of the half for handball and there could have been no real complaints if either one had been given. Their ealy pressure looked like producing a goal and so it did thirteen minutes into the second half.
Albert took a deserved lead after what Arthur Montford might have described as a stramash. Thistle conceded a needless free kick from the right back position and keeper Thomson punched the ball only as far as the penalty spot, where it was driven in from. Tommo saved but it rebounded and was fired in again on the half volley, well saved then hit back in, scrambled off the line and finally fired into the roof of the net.
Of most concern to Thistle would be the fact that there were four attempts at goal and an Albert man was quickest to the ball each time.
In fairness to the Jags players, they reacted well to the loss of the goal and set about the task of getting it back which the duly did fourteen minutes later, albeit helped by a big slice of luck.
Forbes played the ball out wide right to Josh Payne who laid it off to Graham Gracie and burst inside on a run. Gracie tried to play him in but hit the ball straight at an Albert defender who took a wild swipe and missed it altogether, allowing the ball to run into the path of Payne who curled it into the corner with a great strike.
Thistle pressed for the rest of the game and carved out a few chances, but Albert held out for a draw that to be honest was the least they deserved. If they could only reproduce that level of effort and commitment throughout the campaign they would surely be closer to the top of the league than the bottom.
Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Royal Albert 1
So Albert ended Thistle’s run of eight straight wins but the Jags can take some heart from the fact that they came back and didn’t actually lose the game. Wednesday’s decider against Forth is now winner takes all and is shaping up to be a cracker.
Man of the Match: Josh Payne for his effort and good finish.
Thomson; Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl; Kelly (Robb 79); Payne, Forbes, Jack, Reid, McKeever, Gracie. Subs: Doyle
Not much in the way of highlights in this one but the goals are in the video below.