Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Renfrew
McBookie.com Super First Division
Thistle went into their first home game for a month with one change from last keek’s win, Andy Brown didn’t make it after a late fitness test so Liam Mushett started at centre half in his place. After a good showing at Kilwinning, a big win in the friendly and a convincing 4-1 win against today’s opponents last week, confidence was high although the teams were operating at opposite ends of the table.
Following the opening exchanges where neither team threatened the other’s goal, Renfrew took the lead in the 14th minute. A corner on the right was sent goalward by Kieron Maxwell and it looked like the ball had been cleared off the line but the dugout side linesman ruled that it had crossed the line and the referee gave the goal.
Thistle dominated the play for the majority of the rest of the half but couldn’t make the breakthrough, their best chances coming from a series of free kicks that either went straight into the wall or over the bar.
Half time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Renfrew 1
Renfrew hadn’t shown a great deal in an attacking sense and so it was something of a surprise when they went further ahead seven minutes after the restart with a pot shot from the edge of the box that was as much a result of poor defending as any great forward play.
Thistle manager Dunky Sinclair made what has become almost a routine substitution after an hour when he took off Gary McStay and brought on his namesake Johnny in his place. Gary hadn’t been at his best but had come close to equalising with a header that had the keeper beaten but just went past the post. Johnny did make a difference with his best showing for a while although like the rest of the team it wasn’t enough on the day. Five minutes later Matty Clarke was the next to come on, replacing captain Mark Canning.
With twenty minutes to go, Renfrew scored a third goal in a passage of play that summed up a miserable day for Thistle. The Jags won a free kick on the edge of the box and Graham Gracie tried to play the ball along the 18 yard line to David Reid but sold him short with a poor pass, the ball was intercepted and hit long out of defence for the Renfrew player to sprint on to from the half way line. As he closed in on goal, Larkhall keeper Johnny Duncan came out to challenge him and was judged to have brought him down. Morton converted the penalty to put the game beyond doubt.
Billy Robb hit the bar with a great drive from 25 yards as the match drew to a close but that was about it. Plenty of effort from everybody but mostly huff and puff without any end product. A dramatic reversal from last week’s impressive win and Brown’s absence can’t be overlooked, the defence isn’t the same without him playing. The result leaves Thistle in the bottom three while Renfrew move up to second in the table.
No real highlights from the game this week so there won’t be a video
Full time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Renfrew 3
Duncan; Robb, Mushett, Reynolds; Canning (Clarke 65); Forbes, Innes, Jack, Reid; G McStay (J McStay 60), Gracie. Subs: McKeever, , Doyle, Thomson (GK)
Burgess; Clark, Miller, Lyden, Healy; Gordon, O’Keefe, Cochrane, Benton: Maxwell, Morton. Subs: Barbour, McGuinness, Wylie, McLennan, Brown
Booked: Duncan, Robb, Innes, Gracie, Clarke
MoM: Craig Forbes