Larkhall Thistle 1 Shettleston 1 – 17th February 2018

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Shettleston
McBookie.com Super First Division

 

This was a game that both teams would have felt they needed to win to give themselves a realistic chance of escaping relegation. Before the game Shettleston were sitting in 12th place on 8 points with Thistle a point and place behind them, 13th on 7 points.

 

The Jags had several players missing, Johnny McStay Liam Mushett and Craig Forbes were all working while Matty Clarke has a knee injury and is out for four weeks. Billy Robb made a welcome return to the defence and Josh Payne was restored to the right midfield slot.

 

The first half hour of the game passed off with hardly an incident to report, a scrappy opening with both teams living up to their billing as relegation candidates and not much football being played or chances created.

 

Hugh Kelly replaced Brian Jack in the centre of midfield after just over half an hour and was one of the few Jags success stories on the day with his calmness on the ball and range of passing.

 

 

Shettleston could have taken the lead before the interval when their striker went clean through on goal with just Johnny Duncan to beat but he maybe tried to be too fancy with his finish and flicked it past the outside of the post.

 

Minutes later the Jags also had a chance to go in with a half time advantage but Ryan Innes’s effort from 20 yards hit the post and went past.

 

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Shettleston 0

 

The second half was only two minutes old when Thistle produced their best moment of the game, Niall Reynolds burst down the left side and put in a cross that missed out the keeper and fell to Gary McStay who laid it back to Innes for a tap-in.

 

After the goal the Jags were on top and could have extended their lead when Graham Gracie hit a good free kick that went just past the post and they had a good spell of possession, dominating the play but without creating any more real chances.

 

The game turned on an incident midway through the half when Shettleston felt they should have had a penalty, the ball hit Reynolds on the arm but the referee indicated that he saw the incident as accidental. Needless to say, Shettleston saw it the other way and it only fired them up with a sense of injustice that saw them take control of the game.

 

It only took five minutes for them to get level but the goal itself was a bit of a sore one for Thistle, a deflected shot from the edge of the box that left Duncan flatfooted, hit the post and in contrast to Innes’s earlier effort went in.

 

Thistle hit back with a Gracie dribble that ended with a shot that was well saved, then a penalty shout similar to the one Shettleston claimed for in the first half was also turned down.

 

The last period of the game saw both teams going for the winner that would have given them a massive boost but it was the keepers who were on top, Shettleston’s hobbled off after a clash with Gracie that resulted in what sounded like a very painful injury, best wishes to him for a full recovery. He was replaced by what seemed to be an outfield player but his performance between the sticks for the last 10 minutes was outstanding, one save in particular from a Canning drive that saved a point for his team.

 

Johnny Duncan also had a fine save from a deflected shot that he had to correct himself and go the other way to reach.

 

All in all a draw was probably the right result on the day with neither team really producing enough quality to win the game.

 

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Shettleston 1

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Duncan; Robb, Brown, Reynolds; Canning; Payne, Innes, Jack (Kelly 32), Reid; G McStay, Gracie. Subs: McKeever, Doyle, Thomson (GK)

 

Booked: Innes

 

MoM: Ryan Innes gave everything as usual and was just shaded for man of the match by Billy Robb who was solid at the back and provided some great out balls.

 

Cambuslang Rangers 4 Larkhall Thistle 2 – 6th January 2018

Somervell Park, Cambuslang
Cambuslang Rangers v Larkhall Thistle
McBookie.com Super First Division

 

After an enforced layoff since the middle of November last year, Thistle returned to league business at a bitterly cold Cambuslang. The Jags were hoping for some New Year cheer at their high-flying rivals – having slumped to third bottom with only seven points taken from their nine games so far.

 

The loss of Billy Robb at the centre of deence was a big blow to Thistle’s hopes of taking anything from the game but Liam Mushett wasn’t the only one who looked rusty after the long break. Craig Forbes started at right back in a new look formation but it left the Jags short in midfield and meant little in the way of creativity and chances being created.

 

After a scrappy opening period, Cambuslang began to take control of the game but it was Larkhall who could have taken the lead in the 16th minute when a corner found Graham Gracie six yards out but his shot was blocked by a defender. Gracie appeared to have been earmarked as the danger man as he found himself with two or three markers every time he got the ball.

 

Cambuslang could have taken the lead themselves just a minute later but the centre half’s header was straight at Johnny Duncan. The keeper was called into action again five minutes later but this time it was a great save from a well hit drive that looked to be flying into the roof of the net.

 

Thistle sqandered a great chance to take the lead in the 25th minute when Mushett sent a free header past the post when anything on target would have been a goal. After that let off, the home side got the breakthrough that they deserved when they went straight back up the park and scored from a nice passing move finished by Molloy who rolled the ball into the corner unchallenged. They almost doubled the lead a minute later when their pony-tailed right winged produced a great run and shot that Duncan could only parry into the six yard box before it was scrambled clear.

 

The game looked to be over as a contest in 33 minutes when Mushett couldn’t get near the Lang forward on the left wing to prevent the cross and again Duncan was left helpless as Molloy tapped in from two yards. Thistle hadn’t quite given up the ghost yet and good play between Reid and Gracie on the left saw Gracie clear through with just the keeper to beat, he chose to go round the goalie but his shot from a wide angle was cleared off the line by the centre half.

 

The referee denied the Jags what looked to be a good shout for a penalty when Ryan Innes had his feet taken away from him just inside the edge of the box, no foul was the verdict. Thistle finished the half on top and could have pulled a goal back when Gracie headed down for Innes but he blasted just over the bar.

 

Half time: Cambuslang Rangers 2 Larkhall Thistle 0

 

Thistle came out for the second half with the same eleven on the park but that would be set to change fairly quickly.

 

Cambuslang were first to threaten when Mushett gave the ball straight to an opponent who shot over the bar and the Jags took the warning and rallied well. With the next goal being crucial they gave it a good go, albeit without any real end product and it was a real kick in the sore bits when Cambuslang extended their lead in the 62nd minute. Andy Brown for once missed a ball in the air and it fell perfectly for Simeon who cut back and Love tapped in from close range.

 

That should have been it but the substitution of Johnny McStay for Gary McStay injected fresh energy up front and the fightback began. McStay grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and roared and bullied his team mates into shaking off the lethargy and getting stuck in. He led the charge himself when he robbed the home centre half on the right wing and dribbled towards the goal, shrugging off three defenders before laying the ball off to Innes who crashed it into the net from twelve yards.

 

The home nerves were in shreds minutes later. Andy Brown headed the ball clear and it went straight through the middle into the path of Gracie who took it past the keeper and was hauled down. For some reason that only the referee knows, he didn’t produce a card of either colour but did award the penalty which Mark Canning rolled into the corner as the keeper dived the other way.

 

With Thistle going all out for the equaliser they were caught on the break when Mushett again gave the ball away and the game should and would have been put beyond doubt but for a magnificent double block by Andy Brown who must have felt like a one man defence at times.

 

It was all Thistle pressure as the game went deep into injury time but a long hooked clearance sent the Lang No.12 away and although he looked a mile offside he was allowed to square it to Simeon who scored to finish the game.

 

Shettleston picked up their second win of the season to go above Thistle in the table and the situation is now starting to look very ominous as the Jags sit second bottom wondering where the next win is going to come from.

 

Full time: Cambuslang Rangers 4 Larkhall Thistle 2

 

*** Sorry camera out of action this week

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Duncan; Forbes (Jack 81), Mushett, Brown, Reynolds; Canning; Payne, Innes, Reid (Clarke 63); G McStay (J McStay 57), Gracie. Subs: McKeever, Thomson (GK)

 

Scorers: Innes, Canning

 

Booked: Innes, Forbes, Gracie

MoM: Good performances from Duncan and Johnny McStay and pass marks for Canning, Innes and Forbes but Andy Brown did his best to hold a ragged defence together with an outstanding display.

 

 

Larkhall Thistle 0 Largs Thistle 1 – 9th September 2017

With Stewart Thomson still injured, Johnny Duncan continued in goal. Also missing through injury was Hugh Kelly and David Reid was still on holiday.

Dunky started with the same line up as last week against Kilsyth Rangers.

Once again as in past weeks Thistle were slow off the mark and Largs came at them early on and soon had the home team under pressure. It was no surprise then when Largs went ahead, Adams slipped the ball to Muir who converted easily. Thistle just could not get going as an attacking force and the visitors nearly went further ahead after the dugout side assistant allowed Muir to continue when he looked to be offside. Only good work by Johnny Duncan and Liam Mushett who headed the subsequent shot over the bar kept the score at 0-1.

Thistle finally managed to put the visitors under pressure towards the end of the half when a tremendous cross from Scott Nicholl was headed narrowly past by Ryan Innes with keeper Lundy stranded. Matty Clarke then had a snap shot which was deflected for what turned out to be fruitless corner.

Largs then reminded the Jags of how dangerous they can be when Muir sent over a cross which Orr headed narrowly over when he should have done better. Johnny McStay replied with a shot which went well over when he should have at least tested keeper. Orr and Adam then combined for Largs but the big No.9 could not hit the target.

Half Time Larkhall Thistle 0 Largs Thistle 1

Thistle started the second half as in previous games with all guns blazing, and it took Mark Canning just four minutes to go close when he struck the base of the post with the keeper helpless. This was a sign of things to come with Lundy playing a big part in the rest of the game, pulling off some stunning saves and time-wasting which went totally unpunished.

Larkhall were now in control of the game and Innes went very close with a header. On the hour mark Graham Gracie replaced Mark McKeever, with Clarke moving out to the left. Canning was next to try and get the Jags level but headed over when he probably should have done better.

Lundy then produced two stunning stops from Canning and Gracie was denied a penalty when he was brought down as he weaved his way across the box. To be fair the referee was unsighted but the dugout side assistant did not raise his flag when most people thought it was a stonewaller.

A fine move involving Clarke and Gracie ended with McStay just failing to connect at the back post for what would have been a certain equaliser. In the dying minutes Thistle saw their hopes disappear when Canning was again thwarted by yet another fine safe by Lundy. The game ended with the visitors celebrating their victory.

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Johnny Duncan, Andy Brown, Liam Mushett, Scott Nicol; Josh Payne, Mark Canning, Ryan Innes, Craig Forbes, Mark McKeever (Graham Gracie), Matty Clarke, Jonny McStay.

Subs: Gary McStay, Brian Jack, Niall Reynolds, Billy Robb

Booked: Andy Brown, Scott Nicol

Largs Thistle:
Lundy; McMaster, Gilbride, Little, Fleming, Orr, Muir, Adam, Campbell, Burden, McWalter. Subs, Kasubundi, McVey, Jamieson.

 

Once again the Jags suffered for their slow start and giving the opposition too much space but the players must be credited for a spirited recovery in the second half but came across a goalkeeper in inspired form and this coupled with some bad luck resulted in defeat.

Mark Canning had a good second half as did Ryan Innes but today’s man of the match award goes to Andy Brown who was excellent for the full game.