Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Rutherglen Glencairn
McBookie.com Super First Division
Thistle went into the fourth home league game in a row having picked up just one win so far and whilst it is too early to be talking about must-win games, Glencairn were in a similar position near the foot of the table and a win for either team would have given them a big lift.
The manager made two changes from last week’s starting line-up with Graham Gracie and Billy Robb replacing Josh Payne and Liam Mushett. Mark McKeever switched from striker to a wide role in place of Payne with Gracie taking up position up front. The absence of Payne and David Reid made a big difference to the game for the Jags as they lacked any real pace down the wings and were missing crosses into the middle for the two big strikers.
After the early exchanges where both sides had a couple of half chances, Thistle took the lead in the 18th minute from the penalty spot. Criag Forbes went into what looked to be a 50-50 challenge with a Glencairn defender but was judged to have been fouled, Mark Canning sent the keeper the wrong way for his first goal of the day.
The Glens players and especially the highly excitable coaching staff were aggrieved by the decision to say the least and were probably spurred on by their sense of injustice to level the game a minute later from a quick breakaway down the left wing, a cross to the back post and a great volley from McNab that Duncan got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.
Undaunted by the setback, Thistle set about regaining the lead and got it from a great strike by Canning. Johnny McStay laid the ball back to him just outside the box and he swept it first time high into the net. It looked like Larkhall were going to see out the half and go into the interval ahead but right on the stroke of half-time Gormley was put through and finished well for the equaliser.
Half time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Rutherglen Glencairn 2
Thistle took the lead for the third time sixteen minutes into the second half when Scott Nicholl picked up the ball from Gracie and instead of playing the one-two, swung it into the box right onto Canning in the centre-forward position. The skipper took one touch to control it with his right foot and another to slot it past the helpless keeper to complete his hat-trick. Again though the lead wasn’t to last long, a cross from the left wing position looked like it might be dropping into the top corner of the goal but Rutherglen’s McNab followed it in for a close range header that gave Duncan no chance.
The Jags scored what looked like it might be the winner in the 73rd minute. Craig Forbes picked up the ball in the middle of the park and played it wide out to Matty Clarke on the left wing. He took the ball for a run and played it across the six yard area, it was missed by everybody and landed perfectly for Johnny McStay at the back post who had an easy tap-in.
Incredibly however the lead lasted only four minutes this time, Innes went for a 50-50 ball just inside the box but for once was beaten to the ball, it dropped for Gormley who hit a fine shot low into the opposite bottom corner.
A couple of minutes from time Ryan Innes, aleady on a booking, lunged into a needless tackle in the opposition box and got his second yellow, worryingly for the second time in three weeks.
Larkhall’s attempt to see out the remaining few minutes came undone with the very last kick of the match. The old problem of a striker trying to defend caught them out with Johnny McStay wanting far too much time in the box instead of clearing the ball, the Glens striker dispossessed him and as McStay tried to recover the ball he caught him and gave away the penalty.
McKay converted from the spot and the referee didn’t even restart the game.
If there are positives to be taken from the day’s events, the other teams at the bottom didn’t gain much ground with none of them winning but on performances so far it looks likely that Thistle will be fighting their battles at the wrong end of the table this season.
Full time: Larkhall Thistle 4 Rutherglen Glencairn 5
Duncan; Brown, Robb, Nicholl; Canning; Forbes, Innes, McKeever (Reid 70), Clarke; J McStay, Gracie. Subs: Jack, Doyle, Mushett, Thomson (GK)
Baker, McGregor, Neil, Donaldson, Leyden, McGuire, McNab, Hamilton, Gormley, McArdle, McKay.
Scorers: Canning (3), McStay
Booked: Brown, Nicholl, Canning, McStay, Gracie
Sent off: Innes
MoM: Mark Canning would have been a strong contender anyway without his three goals with a good all-round performance.
*** Video up tomorrow sometime