Darvel 3 Larkhall Thistle 1 – 19th August 2017

Recreation Park, Darvel
Darvel v Larkhall Thistle
McBookie.com Super First Division


Thistle made their way to Ayrshire for their first game in the Super League for eight years, after their previous brief visit to the First Division on the way down the leagues. Darvel is a familiar ground in recent years with the Jags playing there in pre-season friendlies and they have just been promoted from the regional division like Thistle. Darvel won the Ayrshire District League last season and were given a round of applause by the Thistle players as they unfurled the league champions flag before the game.


After a bitterly disappointing exit from the Sectional League Cup in midweek, the Jags were looking to get off to a flyer with a game that should have been one in the winnable category. The Thistle squad had been bolstered with some good pre-season signings and the three main ones started the game today, Jonny McStay, Craig Forbes and Billy Robb.


Darvel started the game well and were on the attack early on. There were worrying early signs of what was to come when it got to the five minute point before Thistle even managed out of their own half and the first half was a dour, scrappy affair played in a strong wind that Thistle were shooting into. The game descended almost into farce as rain of biblical proportions battered down halfway through and as the players skidded and slipped around on the wet surface there was little football played at all.



Darvel did hit the bar midway through and had an attempt ruled out for offside, while Thistle’s best effort was a good hit from Graham Gracie that brought out a diving save from the home keeper.


Darvel could have taken the lead just before the break when the came close with a triple effort, the first shot coming off the bar then the rebound bringing out the save of the match from Thomson as he flung himself to his left to keep out a viscious drive, the rebound was fired in once more but flew across the face of the goal and wide.


Half time: Darvel 0 Larkhall Thistle 0


The second half started with a break in the weather that let the players actually play a bit of football but unfortunately for the Jags it was mostly coming from the home team. Darvel took the lead in the 6th minute of the second half when the referee ignored what looked like a blatant free kick to Larkhall, the ball then played across the box to Henderson who gave Jags keeper Thomson no chance with a well placed drive into the top corner.


Three minutes later it went from bad to worse as the lead was doubled when Armour was put clean through and hit a low shot that went under Thomson.


It took until they were two goals behind for Thistle to react and get themselves back into the game and in fairness they battled well and produced their best spell of the game. They could have had a goal back midway through the half when the Darvel defence failed to clear their lines and the ball bobbled about in the box but the Jags just couldn’t get a shot through the crowd.


Darvel should have scored again when the centre was put clean though and just had to pick his spot, unfortunately for him the spot he picked was a yard wide of the goal but they did put a seal on proceedings when they wrapped up the game with a third goal ten minutes from time. A cross in from the right wasn’t defended properly, Davidson found himself in acres of space and rolled the ball into the corner.



Thistle pulled back a consolation goal with a minute of normal time left with what was a very good, if ultimately meaningless goal. Thomson kicked long and the defender’s clearance only went as far as Forbes on the right wing, he charged forward and played the ball into the six yard area where McStay ran onto it and took it in his stride to slot it in at the near post.


A rude awakening for Thistle as they were handed a stark introduction as to what they can expect from life in the Super League. There are no easy games ahead of them and any points won in this division will be hard fought.


Full time: Darvel 3 Larkhall Thistle 1


Larkhall Thistle: Thomson; Robb, Reynolds, Nicholl; Jack; Payne, Forbes, Innes, Reid; J McStay, Gracie. Subs: Brown, Clarke, Mushett, Duncan (GK)


Scorers: J McStay


Booked: Nicholl, Gracie


MoM: Not much to work with today, Scott Nicholl did well apart from one or two rash moments but Josh Payne was always lively and willing and gets MoM this week.


Video highlights below:



Friendly – Larkhall Thistle 3 Darvel 4

Thistle continued their pre-season friendly programme with another fixture that has become a regular annual event, this year it was the Jags turn to host Darvel.

Darvel took the lead after 6 minutes when a failure to clear the ball allowed their No.5 time to pick his spot for an easy finish from 10 yards.

Thistle made an early first half substitution when Gary McStay came on for the injured Niall Reynolds with Declan Doyle dropping back into the back three. The move was to pay dividends right away as McStay grabbed a quick-fire hat-trick, the first being the pick of the bunch when he took time to compose himself and pick his spot after good work from Doyle on the right.

The visitors got themselves back into the game with a goal before half time, a free header from a corner after the Darvel player had made a good run into the box.

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Darvel 2

Darvel equalised just after half time with a breakaway goal that caught the defence out, Thistle were caught remonstrating with the referee after McStay had gone down in the box looking for a penalty.

The two teams were evenly matched and a draw looked to be on the cards until Scott Nicholl got involved with three Darvel players at the stand side touchline and received a second booking, the first had been for a bad tackle that could have been a red on its own.

Thistle brought on a couple of youngsters for the last 15 minutes and both showed up very well, looking like a real threat to the Darvel defence but with the extra man the visitors got the decisive break at the end and wrapped up the win with yet another goal from a corner.

After scoring seven in each of the last two matches, this was a far more difficult test for the Jags and one they will have learned a fair bit from.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Darvel 4

Scorer: McStay (3)

Larkhall Thistle:
Thomson; Brown, Reynolds, Nicholl; Kelly, Doyle, Canning, Innes, McKeever, Reid, Clarke. Subs Moss, McStay, Gracie, Trialists

Larkhall Thistle v Darvel 25th October 2014

Thistle began their Scottish Cup campaign in the second round today after getting a bye in the first. The two teams looked fairly evenly matched on paper and the bookies couldn’t separate them either, but the Jags had gone out of the cup to Ayrshire opposition in each of the last three seasons so this was going to be a difficult task.

See full match report of Thistle v Darvel here

Darvel v Larkhall Thistle Wed. 30th.July

Thistle looked like they were going to be blown away on their return to Darvel, with the Ayrshire side well in command in the early stages. The Jags fought back well though, click below to read Hugh’s full report of the game.

See full match report of Darvel v Larkhall Thistle here