Troon 5 Larkhall Thistle 2 – 7th October 2017

Portland Park, Troon
Troon v Larkhall Thistle
McBookie.com Super First Division

 

Thistle made their way to Ayrshire for the second time this season on the back of a good win at Shettleston last week. In contrast to the Jags, Troon had made a very good start to their league campaign with three wins and a draw from their five games. Scott Nicholl was unavailable due to work and Josh Payne was out injured with Craig Forbes replacing him. The team was otherwise unchanged from last week.

 

Troon started the game well and took the lead within five minutes with a well worked one-two, Scott McLean applying the finish with a low shot into the bottom corner. Troon were the better team in the opening stages and with Thistle not creating a great deal in the attacking third, it looked more likely that Troon would add to lead than the Jags would score.

 

However the Jags did start to turn the game around as the half went on and so it was a bit of a blow when Troon doubled the lead just before the half hour mark. Again it was Troon’s best player on the day McLean who did the damage with a tremendous effort from wide left that he whipped high over Duncan’s head and into the far corner of the net.

 

It was nearly first half disaster for Thistle as they survived two further close shaves just minutes later; first McLean nearly completed his hat-trick but was foiled by Duncan then from the corner Duncan pulled out a worldie from a point blank header.

 

With the customary two goal deficit in place, Larkhall were now able to get started and they set about in earnest trying to get back into the game and indeed they did give themselves a lifeline, pulling a goal back in the 36th minute. Ryan Innes won the ball in the middle of the park and slipped it to David Reid. Div then played an inch perfect ball through the centre of defence into Graham Gracie’s path and he took the ball in his stride and flicked it in off the post.

 

Thistle were nearly level before the interval when Gracie sprung forward to beat the offside trap and found himself in the clear with just the keeper to beat. A square ball would have given Johnny McStay an easy tap-in but he elected to take on the shot himself and Troon keeper McGowan pulled off a great save to preserve the home team’s lead.

 

Half time: Troon 2 Larkhall Thistle 1

 

The second half started with Thistle still on top and pressing for an equaliser and it came within ten minutes of the restart. After a spell of pressure Forbes took a corner on the right and it fell to Jags captain Mark Canning who kept up his impressive recent scoring run with a low drive from the edge of the box.

 

It was game on now and either team looked like they could go on and win it. For Thistle, Reid produced a great run and was about to shoot when he was tackled just outside the box and from that Troon broke forward. The ball went out for a Thistle throw but they lost possession and it fell to Troon’s Chatham who shaped to shoot then cut the ball back for a tap-in for McLean to make it 3-2.

 

The goal left the Jags with 14 minutes to try and get level and although the effort was there, there was a feeling that a change up front might have given the team a lift. Matty Clarke, Mark McKeever and Gary McStay were all available to try and help out Gracie.

 

Two penalty awards to Troon in the last two minutes gave the score a completely false look as there were never three goals between the teams in terms of possession, efforts on goal or ability. The first was a poor one to concede with a needless soft foul at the corner of the box and the second for a lunging tackle around the penalty spot but no real complaints about either of them as they were both technically fouls.

 

Duncan did well to get down and save the first spot kick but McCrea was first to react and he tucked away the rebound. McLean made no mistake with the second, scoring with a cheeky wee dink.

 

Very unlucky to lose by such a margin today but 13 goals conceded in the last three games gives plenty for the coaching staff to work on. So far Thistle have held their own against most teams in this league but badly need to start turning their good play and goals into wins.

 

Full time: Troon 5 Larkhall Thistle 2

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Duncan; Brown, Mushett (Robb 25), Reynolds; Canning; Forbes, Innes, Jack, Reid; J McStay, Gracie. Subs: McKeever, Doyle, Kelly, Clarke, Thomson (GK)

 

Troon:
McGowan, McCreadie, Clark, Keenan, Collins, Chatham, Paterson, McCrea, Forsyth, Murphy, McLean

 

Scorers: Gracie, Canning

 

Booked: Robb, Reynolds

 

MoM: David Reid had a very good first half but faded a bit in the second so MoM this week is Johnny Duncan who made several top-drawer saves including the penalty and has improved every week since he came into the team.

 

Shettleston 3 Larkhall Thistle 5 – 30th September 2017

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

 

After a day off last Saturday due to a Scotish Cup bye, Thistle looked to bounce back from the sickening last minute loss to Glencairn with a win at Shettleston. The Jags had lost 3-1 at Greenfild Park on their last visit, on the first day of Shettleston’s promotion season 2013 – 2014.

 

Thistle were without Scott Nicholl who was working and Matty Clarke who was ill, Stuart Thomson and Gary McStay were still struggling with injury and were also both out.

 

Following a decent opening spell, the Jags once again fell behind to an early goal. Shettleston won a corner on the right, it was cleared only to Shettleston’s full back on the touch line. The ball was swung back into the middle and Town’s Crumlish had time and space to get a header in unchallenged, leaving Thistle keeper Johnny Duncan helpless.

 

 

The early goal was something that Larkhall have become used to dealing with and it didn’t knock them out of their stride too much, although in all honesty they spent the rest of the first half huffing and puffing and not really creating a chance worth talking about. The closest the Jags came was when Graham Gracie gave a glimpse of what was to follow with a great run along the bye line and a cross that the home keeper came out and took clean out, along with Jags midfielder Ryan Innes.

 

Worse was to follow just on half time when Shettleston broke away and left the Jags defence posted missing, a two on one with keeper Duncan producing the inevitable outcome of a square ball and tap in for McInosh into the empty net.

 

Half time: Shettleston 2 Larkhall Thistle 0

 

Larkhall’s first real attempt on target came just after the break when Mark Canning floated a free kick into the box and Liam Mushett’s header brought out a fine save from the home keeper. Mushett was involved again minutes later but this time it led to a goal, the big man got his head to a corner, Innes won the knock-down and smashed the ball low into the net to get Thistle back into the game.

 

 

Although Thistle were by now on top of the game and looked favourites to get level, Shettleston can point to a second booking for excessive backchat to the referee just after the goal as a turning point. Manager Dunky Sinclair made what turned out to be a very significant substitution in the 67th minute when he replaced the struggling Josh Payne with Craig Forbes and he made an instant impact on the game asThistle drew level a minute later with a goal of real quality, Forbes started the move, playing the ball to Mark Canning and making a run down he right wing. Canning played a pass up the line and Forbes headed the ball into Gracie’s path, the big striker cut across the 18 yard line leaving a trail of defenders in his wake before firing a left foot shot into the corner.

 

The Jags had their tails up now and looked the more likely team to win the game and it only took another five minutes for them to go ahead for the first time in the game. Gracie got on the end of a ball into the box and tried to dink it over the keeper but he managed to get a hand to it only for big Graham to react quickest and slide the ball into the net.

 

Thistle were flying now and the home defence looked to have collapsed under the pressure. David Reid nearly added to the tally when his cross/shot drifted just past the post but Gracie went one better from the same position when he landed his cross plum onto Brian Jack’s head for the easiest goal he’ll score all season.

 

 

Shettleston pulled a goal back six minutes from the end with a very well placed free kick by Johnston but they looked a beaten team and unlikely to cause any more damage and it was Thistle who had the final say, rounding off the scoring with a goal on the beak as Graham Gracie completed his hat-trick with a run down the left and a deadly finish hit across the keeper.

 

Another spirited comeback from the Jags against admittedly limited opposition. Goal scoring doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem and it would seem that their fate in this division will depend on whether they can shore up the defence.

 

Full time: Shettleston 3 Larkhall Thistle 5

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Duncan; Brown, Mushett, Reynolds; Canning; Payne (Forbes 67), Innes, Jack, Reid; J McStay (McKeever 87), Gracie. Subs: Robb, Doyle, Kelly

 

Scorers: Innes, Gracie (3), Jack

 

Booked: Canning

 

MoM: Has to be Graham Gracie, scored three and could have had a couple more but great efforts from Ryan Innes and Johnny Duncan.

 

*** Video up tomorrow

 

Larkhall Thistle 4 Rutherglen Glencairn 5 – 16th September 2017

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

 

Thistle went into the fourth home league game in a row having picked up just one win so far and whilst it is too early to be talking about must-win games, Glencairn were in a similar position near the foot of the table and a win for either team would have given them a big lift.

 

The manager made two changes from last week’s starting line-up with Graham Gracie and Billy Robb replacing Josh Payne and Liam Mushett. Mark McKeever switched from striker to a wide role in place of Payne with Gracie taking up position up front. The absence of Payne and David Reid made a big difference to the game for the Jags as they lacked any real pace down the wings and were missing crosses into the middle for the two big strikers.

 

After the early exchanges where both sides had a couple of half chances, Thistle took the lead in the 18th minute from the penalty spot. Criag Forbes went into what looked to be a 50-50 challenge with a Glencairn defender but was judged to have been fouled, Mark Canning sent the keeper the wrong way for his first goal of the day.

 

 

The Glens players and especially the highly excitable coaching staff were aggrieved by the decision to say the least and were probably spurred on by their sense of injustice to level the game a minute later from a quick breakaway down the left wing, a cross to the back post and a great volley from McNab that Duncan got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.

 

Undaunted by the setback, Thistle set about regaining the lead and got it from a great strike by Canning. Johnny McStay laid the ball back to him just outside the box and he swept it first time high into the net. It looked like Larkhall were going to see out the half and go into the interval ahead but right on the stroke of half-time Gormley was put through and finished well for the equaliser.

 

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Rutherglen Glencairn 2

 

Thistle took the lead for the third time sixteen minutes into the second half when Scott Nicholl picked up the ball from Gracie and instead of playing the one-two, swung it into the box right onto Canning in the centre-forward position. The skipper took one touch to control it with his right foot and another to slot it past the helpless keeper to complete his hat-trick. Again though the lead wasn’t to last long, a cross from the left wing position looked like it might be dropping into the top corner of the goal but Rutherglen’s McNab followed it in for a close range header that gave Duncan no chance.

 

The Jags scored what looked like it might be the winner in the 73rd minute. Craig Forbes picked up the ball in the middle of the park and played it wide out to Matty Clarke on the left wing. He took the ball for a run and played it across the six yard area, it was missed by everybody and landed perfectly for Johnny McStay at the back post who had an easy tap-in.

 

 

Incredibly however the lead lasted only four minutes this time, Innes went for a 50-50 ball just inside the box but for once was beaten to the ball, it dropped for Gormley who hit a fine shot low into the opposite bottom corner.

 

A couple of minutes from time Ryan Innes, aleady on a booking, lunged into a needless tackle in the opposition box and got his second yellow, worryingly for the second time in three weeks.

 

Larkhall’s attempt to see out the remaining few minutes came undone with the very last kick of the match. The old problem of a striker trying to defend caught them out with Johnny McStay wanting far too much time in the box instead of clearing the ball, the Glens striker dispossessed him and as McStay tried to recover the ball he caught him and gave away the penalty.

 

McKay converted from the spot and the referee didn’t even restart the game.

 

If there are positives to be taken from the day’s events, the other teams at the bottom didn’t gain much ground with none of them winning but on performances so far it looks likely that Thistle will be fighting their battles at the wrong end of the table this season.

 

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 4 Rutherglen Glencairn 5

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Duncan; Brown, Robb, Nicholl; Canning; Forbes, Innes, McKeever (Reid 70), Clarke; J McStay, Gracie. Subs: Jack, Doyle, Mushett, Thomson (GK)

 

Rutherglen Glencairn:
Baker, McGregor, Neil, Donaldson, Leyden, McGuire, McNab, Hamilton, Gormley, McArdle, McKay.

 

Scorers: Canning (3), McStay

 

Booked: Brown, Nicholl, Canning, McStay, Gracie

 

Sent off: Innes

 

MoM: Mark Canning would have been a strong contender anyway without his three goals with a good all-round performance.

 

*** Video up tomorrow sometime

 

 

 

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:

 

 

Whitletts Victoria 0 Larkhall Thistle 2 – 29th July 2017

Dam Park, Ayr
Whitletts Victoria v Larkhall Thistle
Pre-season friendly

 

Thistle continued their pre-season programme with a visit to Ayr to play Whitletts Vics. Whitletts had finished fourth in the Ayrshire District league last season, just outside the promotion spots and roughly equivalent to Thistle so it was going to be a good test for both teams.

 

 

The Jags started with three of their new signings on show, Billy Robb at centre half, Craig Forbes in midfield and Jonny McStay up front in a 3-5-2 formation and totally dominated the early play. Thistle could have led from shots by Graham Gracie and Brian Jack from almost identical spots on the left side.

 

Whitletts should have scored themselves though with their first real break out of defence when they beat the offside trap with a burst down the left wing and a cross for an easy tap in that was somehow put past the post.

 

 

Larkhall took the lead they deserved in 25 minutes when Robb won the ball and gave it to Forbes who ran at the middle of the defence before slipping the ball right to Gracie whose low sort across the keeper found the bottom corner.

 

Vics came more into the game in the last fifteen minutes of the half and hit the bar with a curling shot from outside the box, however the rest of half was characterised by some very sloppy passing from both sides that stand-in Larkhall manager Tam McLaughlin would have been keen to cut out in the second period.

 

Half Time: Whittlets Victoria 0 Larkhall Thistle 1

 

Thistle had a strong looking bench that shows a good depth to the squad and made four substitutions early in the second half. Crowd-pleaser Scott Nicholl swapped places with Niall Reynolds as he has done in most of the friendly games and gave the team more of an attacking option down the left side.

 

The second half carried on where the first had left off with the Jags having the lion’s share of possession but the home side looking threatening on the odd break they manged to carve out.

 

 

Whitletts almost took the lead just after the hour mark when they hit the post and from the resulting break of the ball managed to bring out an excellent save from Jags keeper Thomson.

 

Thistle’s Brian Jack went close in the 73rd minute with a shot from the edge of the box from a knock-down by Matty Clarke after Jag’s best move of the game but they did get a second six minutes from time when Gracie latched on to a loose ball and lobbed the keeper.

 

Full Time: Whittlets Victoria 0 Larkhall Thistle 2

 

Another good result for Thistle that should keep the confidence levels high going into the season, let’s hope they can keep the winning habit going when the serious stuff starts.

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Thomson; Brown, Robb, Reynolds (Nicholl 55); McKeever (Doyle 55), Forbes, G.McStay (Mushett 60), Jack, Reid; J McStay (Clarke 60), Gracie.

 

Larkhall Thistle 2 Wishaw 3 – 22nd April 2017

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Wishaw
Central League First Division

 

A twelve game unbeaten run that included ten wins had seen Thistle move up to second place in the league with six games left and it all began at the home of today’s visitors back in November. Since then the Jags had gone on a run that many of us have never witnessed before to make themselves favourites for the league title itself.

 

With St Roch’s on cup duty this was an opportunity for Thistle to stretch their lead over them to six points, Cambuslang Rangers at the top were expected to win at home against Forth.

 

Wishaw started the game looking the more determined side and took the lead after eight minutes, Mark Canning had a shot blocked and Wishaw broke forward through Dan Kindlan who was allowed a criminal amount of time and space to waltz through the middle of the park unchallenged before hitting a low shot from the left edge of the box that Thomson might have felt he could have done better with. A poor goal all round to lose.

 

 

The goal settled Wishaw and they dealt well with anything that Thistle could come up with in the way of chances and the long balls were being easily dealt with by their defence, although they did not really trouble the Larkhall defence too much either.

 

The visitors doubled their lead on 28 minutes when a corner kick fell perfectly at the back post for Dean Kindlan to blast in from close range.

 

Thistle got back into the game with a great goal five minutes from half time. Josh Payne took the ball in the middle of the park and spotted a gap between the Wishaw defenders, he played the perfect ball out left for Graham Gracie to run on to and take wide of the keeper before squeezing it it from the tightest of angles.

 

The goal brought the Jags to life as they shook off their sluggish start and set about getting level. That was blown out of the water though as Wishaw won a free kick right on 45 minutes which Dan Kindlan swept past Thomson for his second goal of the game.

 

Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Wishaw 3

 

It was as poor a first half showing as Thistle have put up all season so the second half could only really have been an improvement. The Jags set about an assault on the Wishaw goal that saw them create chance after chance, albeit none of them very clear cut as the Wishaw defence dug in and looked happy just to sit deep and get rid of the ball.

 

After an hour it was clear to all that changes were needed but Niall Reynolds might count himself unlucky to have been hooked along with Brian Jack in favour of Scott Nicholl and Hugh Kelly. Reynolds had been one of the few pass-marks players up that point but the manager wanted to use the extra attacking ability of Nicholl who can get further forward.

 

The Wishaw defence survived a real scare when Josh Payne cut in on the right side of the byeline and tried to score from an even tighter angle than Gracie but his shot rolled just in front of the goal line and past.

 

 

Keeper Stewart Thomson kept Thistle in the game with a great save as he came out to block a shot from Smillie who was put clean through on goal by Dan Kindlan.

 

The Jags took full advantage as they broke quickly to pull a goal back through Canning with sixteen minutes left on the clock. Canning started the move when he knocked the ball forward to Gracie who set off on a run after a one-two with Reid. The big striker got a lucky break as he tried to take the ball past the last defender and it broke back into his path but he unselfishly squared it to Canning who kept cool to roll it into the corner.

 

 

The remainder of the game was virtually one way traffic as the Jags laid siege to the Wishaw goal but a combination of good defending, desperate last minute blocks and good luck thwarted their best attempts at getting level.

 

Thistle also had a shout for a penalty denied when the ball was played off a Wishaw defender’s arm but in truth it was too close to award a spot kick and couldn’t have been considered as deliberate.

 

The Jags finally ran out of time and tasted their first league defeat of 2017. Despite a much improved second half there is no doubt that Wishaw were the better team on the day and fully deserved their win. Cambuslang were held to a shock home draw by Forth so if ever there was a day to lose a game this was probably it. The real winners were St Roch’s who saw the two teams above them lose a bit of the advantage they had. It is now a genuine any two from three with Cambuslang possibly looking the most precarious at the top.

 

Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Wishaw 3

 

Scorers: Gracie, Canning

 

Website Man of the Match: On a day where nobody really reached the heights they are capable of, Josh Payne plugged away well and provided the Jags only real moment of quality in the game.

 

Larkhall Thistle:
S.Thomson; Brown, Mushett, Reynolds (Nicholl 61); Payne, Innes, Canning, Jack (Kelly 61), Reid; McKeever, (Clarke 72), Gracie. Subs: D.Thomson (GK), Doyle

 

Wishaw:
Thomson; McIntyre, Goodall, Watt, Eley,; McCafferty, Grant, Dean Kindlan, Smillie, Dan Kindlan, Collinder, Bannerman

 

** Sorry no video this week, camera failure at Thistle’s first goal so not worth doing

Larkhall Thistle 2 Cambuslang Rangers 1 – 11th March 2017

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Cambuslang Rangers
Central League First Division

Thistle went into this crucial top of the table clash knowing that only a win would realistically keep their prospects of winning the league alive. Twelve points behind with four games in hand would have stretched to fifteen with the prospect of having to cram midweek games into a tight schedule so the three points were essential.

The Jags got off to the best possible start when after just eight minutes midfielder Brian Jack pounced on a loose ball in the box to swing his boot high and send a great shot crashing into the roof of the net. The Cambuslang coaching staff set the tone for the rest of the day as they appealed loudly for a foul against Jacko for a high kick, despite the fact that there wasn’t a defender close to him. Their protests were as fruitless as they were ridiculous and the constant cries for offside every time Thistle went forward were correctly ignored by the referee.

 


The Cambuslang players showed there was more about them though and came back to grab a quick equaliser eight minutes later. A ball was swung in from a corner on the left and Lang’s Nolan converted at the near post with a free header.

The goal lifted the visitors as they took control of the game for a spell and made a few chances, going close on one occasion with a cross/shot that clipped the post and a volley that would have burst the net if it had been on target. Thistle also had their moments, Graham Gracie replied with a low shot across the goal that went just wide, Mark McKeever brought out a good save and a goalmouth scramble resulted in Liam Mushett nearly poking a shot home but keeper Stewart managed to save again.

Chances at both ends then but the half time whistle came without any further addition to the scoring.

Half Time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Cambuslang Rangers 1

After the break, both teams made it clear that they were going all out for the win, resulting in a real old fashioned end-to-end contest that turned out to be more like a cup tie. Thistle had the best of the half and put the Cambuslang defence under heavy pressure for most of it, albeit without creating too many clear cut chances. The visitors also had their moments though and came close just after the restart when they hit the bar with a header.

Graham Gracie looked set to put the Jags ahead but a Lang defender managed to throw himself in front of the ball and block his shot – it was probably a legitimate challenge despite the calls for a penalty.

 

The game turned on a penalty decision that predictably the visiting bench didn’t entirely agree with. A cross from the left hit a defender on the arm and it is one of those decisions that some referees will give and some won’t, it was entirely open to interpretation whether the defender was too close to have been able to do anything about it but the referee was in a better position to judge than those who were giving him abuse. One of the Cambuslang players took his protests too far and was sent off in the aftermath.

Captain Mark Canning took responsibility and stepped up to slot the ball home for what proved to be the winning goal.

There were more half chances at either end as the teams went at each other right to the wire but neither keeper was really troubled too much. Credit to both teams for a great contest played in the right spirit – on the park at least.

The win keeps Thistle in touch and although there are some games to catch up, the destination of the title is in their own hands for the first time.

Full Time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Cambuslang Rangers 1

Scorers: Jack, Canning

Website Man of the Match: !00% effort from all of the players today but none more so than Mark McKeever who plugged away tirelessly up front.

Larkhall Thistle:
D.Thomson; Brown, Mushett, Reynolds (Nicholl); Payne, Innes, Canning, Jack, Reid; McKeever (Clarke 85), Gracie. Subs: Kelly, McStay, S.Thomson

Cambuslang Rangers: Stewart, Gebbie, Halliday, Nolan, Bishop, Haye, Bohme, Simeon, Gormley, Kilmartin, Hastings. Subs: Kerr, Houston, Brown, Gemmell, Collinder

 

Video highlights of the game (sorry Cambuslang goal is missing, some of their supporters walked in front of the camera just as they were scoring)

Larkhall Thistle 3 Lesmahagow 4 – 8th October 2016

Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Lesmahagow
Central League First Division

Thistle went into the game with Craig Rutherford still injured, Mark Canning not recovered from his warm-up injury at Johnstone, Andy Brown getting married and Liam Mushett doubtful having picked up an injury in training. Mushett did make it into a starting line-up that was unchanged from last week’s win at Johnstone.

larkhall-thistle-v-lesmahagow-1

The Jags had the perfect opportunity to take the lead after 22 seconds when they were awarded a penalty for handball but Graham Gracie’s tame penalty was easily saved by the Lesmahagow keeper.

Gracie looked determined to atone for the miss and less than a minute later got the ball and played a great pass through the defence into Matty Clarke’s path, he took a stride and slotted into the corner for the opener.

Larkhall swiftly followed that up with a second minutes later when Brian Jack played in Gracie in a similar position on the left and he made no mistake this time, firing the ball low into the same spot as Clarke.

Sixteen minutes in and with the home side having literally all of the chances and the vast majority of the ball, they extended their lead further. David Reid had been tormenting the right back and putting in some excellent crosses but this time he rolled it back into the path of the oncoming Clarke who drilled the ball home.

larkhall-thistle-v-lesmahagow-2

At this point Thistle were rampant and in the rest of the half created chance after chance that could and should have seen  the game out of sight, their local rivals were shellshocked at the onslaught and it really did look a question of how many.

There was no indication at that point that Thistle were to go on and finish the game without any further scoring.

Matty Clarke had the perfect chance for a first half hat-trick when he was clean through one on one but his lob came back off the bar with the keeper helpless.

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Lesmahagow 0

Manager Dunky Sinclair’s message at half time would undoubtedly have included keeping things tight in the early stages of the second half and not losing an early goal but three minutes into the second half Niall Reynolds was caught out by the swerve of a punt through and the ball landed at the feet of the Gow striker whose lob gave Thomson no chance.

Although Thistle were under the cosh after the goal as Lesmahagow dominated the early part of the half and pressed hard to get back into the game, they should surely have scored in the 65th minute when Reid, Clarke, Gracie and Payne all passed up chances to score in an incredible mellee with the keeper stranded outside his goal but enough defenders getting back to make lunging blocks.

The home players took heart from their endeavours and nearly scored minutes later when Payne set up Gracie but he blasted his shot over the bar.

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Thistle seemed to be coping well with anything that Gow could throw at them but the visitors snatched an unlikely second with fifteen minutes left when the ball bobbled in the box and their striker nipped in to get a flick on it before Thomson could gather.

Thistle made their only substitution in 83 minutes when Gary McStay came on for Clarke and he was involved in their best chance in the closing stages when he picked out Ryan Innes on the edge of the box who slipped it right to Jack, he hit a good shot that looked to be heading for the to corner before the keeper produced a good save.

Larkhall were looking to see the game out and although Gow had a few attempts, few would have predicted how the final couple of minutes were about to unfold.

Lesmahagow won a corner a minute from the end that went straight across the face of the goal and got the slightest of touches to send it into the net then followed that up with a similarly scrappy goal from a fee kick a minute later that dropped to their unmarked striker who swivelled and crashed in the winning goal from six yards.

This was real game of the season stuff for any neutral watching with Thistle producing their best form of the season so far in a first half that should have seen them out of sight and a spirited comeback from Lesmahagow who demonstrated in the most emphatic way that it is only putting the ball in the net that really counts.

Website Man of The Match: The front line of Gracie, Clarke and Reid had a great first half but ultimately the misses cost Thistle the game whilst the defence failed to hold the lead once again so man of the match this week goes to Ryan Innes who battled hard all day and won ball after ball in the middle of the park.

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 3 Lesmahagow 4

Larkhall Thistle:
D. Thomson; Mushett, Reynolds, Nicholl; Kelly, Payne, Jack, Innes, Reid; Clarke (McStay 73), Gracie.

Scorers: Clarke (2), Gracie

Booked: Nicholl, Reynolds, Innes