Larkhall Thistle 2 Johnstone Burgh 1 – 18th February 2017

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Johnstone Burgh
Central League First Division

After last week’s disappointing exit out of the West of Scotland Cup, Thistle looked to bounce back and keep their league challenge on track.

As they have done for most of the season, the Jags controlled most of the early part of the game and created a couple of good chances, two David Reid crosses in quick succession from the left almost produced goals – firstly from a Johnstone Burgh player who was lucky to deflect the ball off the post and not into the goal, then from a Hugh Kelly header from point-blank range that keeper Kelly did brilliantly to save.

What should have been the turning point of the game came midway through the half when Brian Jack lunged into a tackle from behind after having just been booked, he was duly sent packing and Thistle had 70+ minutes to try and see out with ten men.

Larkhall were forced into a change shortly after when Gary McStay hobbled off to be replaced by Hugh Kelly, a change that might have been going to take place anyway to cope with the man disadvantage.

Burgh couldn’t take advantage of the extra man though and although there were good chances at both ends, somehow the teams got to half time goalless.

Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Johnstone Burgh 0

Johnstone were first to show in the second half and they scored within three minutes of the restart with a goal that the Jags players must have been very disappointed to lose. Mark McKeever couldn’t prevent winger Fitzpatrick from getting his cross in after some fancy footwork on the left and it was met with a free header in the middle that keeper Thomson got a hand to but probably would have felt he should have kept out.

The fact that Thistle were a man down didn’t seem to have any effect at all on the game and they kept up the onslaught on the Burgh goal all the way through the second half. The pressure produced an equaliser ten minutes into the half with a cracking strike from Mark Canning that rivals Niall Reynolds overhead kick for goal of the season at Gasworks.

The main criticisms of the team this season have been the failure to convert enough of the chances they create and not being able to hold on to a lead. The first one was certainly true today and it could have easily been five or six before Ryan Innes hit the winner with a low drive across the keeper.

They did however manage to hold on to the lead this time and get the win. Both teams had some great chances with Liam Mushett heading over the bar from six yards and keeper Kelly having a couple of great saves.

As the game drew to a close, Johnstone pressed hard for a winner but some great defending kept them at bay and Thistle held on for the win that they deserved.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Johnstone Burgh 1

Website man of the match:
Ryan Innes who dug in brilliantly. His energy made up for the man short in midfield, topped by the winning goal.
Larkhall Thistle:
S. Thomson; Brown, Mushett, Reynolds; McKeever (Doyle 87), Jack, Canning, Innes, Reid; Gracie, McStay (Kelly 27). Subs: Payne, D. Thomson (GK)

Johnstone Burgh:
Kelly; McCormick, Nugent, Perrie, Carson; Usher, McIntyre, McBride Hewitt, Docherty, McGonigal, Fitzpatrick. Subs: Gaddi, Ramsay, McStay, Wilson (GK)

Scorers: Canning, Innes

Booked: Gracie, Sent off: Jack

Video highlights below

Johnstone Burgh 2 Larkhall Thistle 4 – 1st October 2016

Keanie Park, Johnstone
Johnstone Burgh v Larkhall Thistle
Central League First Division

Thistle captain Mark Canning was withdrawn from the starting line-up after suffering an injury in the pre-match warm up, so Brian Jack returned to the team in midfield.

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The Jags took the lead after 15 minutes following a great run by Josh Payne down the right. Shots by Graham Gracie and Matty Clarke were blocked before the ball dropped to Jack four yards out for the easiest of finishes. There was a suspicion of offside and the claims from the home team went on loud and long but the referee allowed the goal to stand.

The Jags almost added to the lead shortly after when Ryan Innes stooped to bullet a close range header off the bar from a corner.

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Johnstone Burgh equalised minutes before half time with a goal that came out of the blue, completely against the run of play in a first half Larkhall had dominated. They won a corner on Thistle’s right and found an unmarked head on the edge of the box, he directed it towards goal and Burgh’s Stephen Fitzpatrick nipped in to get a second header on it and divert it past the helpless David Thomson in the Jags goal.

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Right on the half time whistle Thistle passed up another great chance to go in ahead when Gracie did well to hold the ball up and lay it off to Clarke whose shot was saved.

Half time: Johnstone Burgh 1 Larkhall Thistle 1

The Jags started the second half looking determined to get back in front and took the lead again after five minutes when Clarke did well to control and turn and fire a shot low into the corner.

The third goal came a few minutes later, Gracie picked up the ball in the wide right position and cut inside across the edge of the box, leaving several defenders trailing before back-heeling the ball into Paynes path – the youngster making no mistake with a great drive into the corner.

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Burgh to their credit didn’t take the setback lying down and came back into it, creating a couple of good chances in what was their best spell of the game.

The home side did pull a goal back in 65 minutes when Scott Nicholl deflected a cross into his own net, although he might have played it with his hand and could have been lucky to stay on if it hadn’t been a goal.

Thistle made their only substitution in 73 minutes when Mark McKeever came on for Clarke.

Five minutes from time Jack got his second goal of the game to make it 4-2 when Payne took a ball from the right that swung over the keeper and set him up for an easy finish from 10 yards.

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David Reid got a second booking for dissent in the dying minutes and spoiled what had been a good performance up till then.

The result sees the Jags go level on points at the top of the league with Cambuslang Rangers and St Roch’s.

Website Man of The Match: A good performance from Liam Mushett at right back, solid in everything he did and also from Jack and Innes in the middle of the park but this week again it goes to Josh Payne who tore the right back apart in the second half and contributed to three of the goals.

Full time: Johnstone Burgh 2 Larkhall Thistle 4

Larkhall Thistle:
D. Thomson; Mushett, Reynolds, Nicholl; Kelly, Payne, Jack, Innes, Reid; Clarke (McKeever 73), Gracie. Subs: Stewart, Brown, S.Thomson (GK), Burns, Doyle

Scorers: Jack (2), Clarke, Payne

Sent off: Reid

Larkhall Thistle v Johnstone Burgh

Thistle looked to try and put their Royal albert performance behind them and finish the season on a high note as they looked for revenge for a 3-2 defeat at Johnstone in November.

Read the full match report of Thistle v Johnstone Burgh here

Larkhall Thistle v Johnstone Burgh 12th May 2014

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Thistle came from behind and blew Burgh away with four goals in a devastating seven minute second half spell, but only after the visitors had gone down to 10 men.

See full match report of Thistle v Johnstone Burgh here

Johnstone Burgh v Larkhall Thistle 31st August, 2013

The fans shield their eyes from the sun at Johnstone
The fans shield their eyes from the sun at Johnstone

Thistle made their first trip to Keanie Park in several seasons and came away with what in the end was a disappointing draw. After taking the lead early on it the game the Jags allowed the advantage to slip but an eventful game could have gone either way.

See full report of Johnstone Burgh v Thistle