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