Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Royal Albert v Larkhall Thistle
Scottish Cup 1st Round
Thistle went into today’s game with Andy Brown on honeymoon, Ryan Innes not having trained for two weeks due to illness and David Thomson just back from injury. On the bright side club catain Mark Canning was fit again and took his place in midfield.
Liam Mushett was replaced by Declan Doyle at right back and Matty Clarke was also rested, Gary McStay taking his place up front.
Albert started the game looking like they were determined to have a real go and might well have taken an early lead with a couple of good early moves.
However it was the Jags who got the opener and again it came from a corner on the right taken by David Reid. The ball came out to Mark Canning just outside the box and he swept it forward to Graham Gracie who let the ball run across him then was a bit lucky to get a break off an Albert defender to get the ball back, when he did there was no mistake as he rattled it high into the near corner.
Albert came back again but it was Thistle who looked to have put themselves through to the next round with a second in the 26th minute. Reid picked up the ball in midfield and played it out to Josh Payne on the left. He continued his run into the box and when he got the return ball he hit it low and hard hard across the face of the goal only for the unfortunate Stobie to deflect it into his own goal.
The rest of the half petered out without much in the way of incident with Thistle seeming to have done enough, even at this early stage.
Half time: Royal Albert 0 Larkhall Thistle 2
The second half continued where the first had left off with the Jags cruising and they made a substitution after an hour when McStay came off to be replaced by Matty Clarke, followed shortly after by Ryan Innes coming on for Brian Jack.
It seemed that the only thing that could get in the way of a home win was the self destruct button and it was pushed not once but twice in a mad two minute spell. Firstly Scott Nicholl got himself involved with an Albert player when it looked like he had won the foul anyway and saw a straight red, then Reggie Innes flew into a challenge that looked to be at least a booking but probably a red card was a bit harsh.
With a two man advantage for Albert, the last fifteen minutes was always going to be backs to the wall for Thistle but the nine men produced the best football of the game with a fast flowing break down the left wing that resulted in Reid setting up Gracie for an easy finish – only for the striker to fluff his lines and hit the ball staight at the keeper.
The game turned in Albert’s favour with a substitution when they brought on Barry Murdoch to give them a much needed steadiness in midfield and they pulled a goal back from one of his excellent balls into the box. Jags keeper Stuart Thomson only managed to parry his free kick right on to the head of former Thistle man Alan Campbell who nodded into the net past him.
Albert nearly took the game to a replay with an almost identical move minutes later, again Thomson made a great diving save to his left and the ball dropped to an Albert player but this time the keeper got up brilliantly and showed great reflexes to touch the ball over the bar.
Thistle put the game beyond doubt a minute into injury time with a third goal, Gracie made a lung-bursting run down the left past the defence and got a shot in that keeper Smith managed to block but it fell right at the feet of Canning who tapped the ball home.
A great cup tie that had a bit of everything in it, with credit being due to Albert for taking the game all the way to the last seconds. Thistle could have been out of sight but again showed a soft side when holding a lead.
Full time: Royal Albert 1 Larkhall Thistle 3
Website man of the match: Stuart Thomson had a bit of the jitters in the early stages but recovered well to pull off a great save that kept Thistle ahead but Niall Reynolds was solid at the back and dealt with most things well so is this week’s Man of the Match.
S. Thomson; Doyle, Reynolds, Nicholl; Kelly, Payne, Jack (Innes 65), Canning, Reid; McStay (Clarke 60 (Burns 77)), Gracie. Subs: McKeever, D.Thomson (GK), Stewart
Smith; Howson, M.Anderson, Stobie, Rinn, Hamilton; J.Anderson, Baptie, Campbell, Scott, O’Kane. Subs: Haley, Rennie, Murdoch, Clark, Brennan, Neill
Booked: Reynolds, Reid, Gracie
Sent off: Nicholl, Innes
Video highlights, sorry battery ran out so last goal is missing