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

 

 

 

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.

Larkhall Thistle 0 Cambuslang Rangers 2 – 26th August 2017

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

 

Thistle were looking to bounce back from the disappointing opening day defeat at Darvel against the team that they pushed for the title all the way to the very last kick of last season. Cambusang are another one of the teams that the Jags would be looking to take points from if they have serious ambitions to survive and prosper in this league.

 

Cambuslang got off to the better start and looked lively going forward, whilst at the other end their defence was solid and winning every ball, ably marshalled by centre half Smith.

 

 

It was no surprise then that the wee Gers took the lead in the 19th minute with a well worked move. The ball was worked across the midfield to Dale Simeon on the right who lashed it across Jags keeper Thomson into the net off the crossbar. The visitors doubled their lead four minutes later with a bad goal defensively for Thistle, a close-range header from Lang’s Gebbie.

 

Cambuslang didn’t rest on their lead and continued to push in search of more goals, it was only good work by Thomson that kept the score down to 2-0. In reply, Thistle had a couple of half chances when Reid blasted over and Forbes put a good ball across the six yard area that didn’t find any takers. The best chance of the half though fell to Johnny McStay after what was the Jags best move of the game, Innes and Gracie combining well on the right before Gracie laid the ball into McStay’s path but he could only poke it at the advancing keeper.

 

Half time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Cambuslang Rangers 2

 

Mark McKeever and Hugh Kelly were deputising for the management duo who were at a wedding and must have given the team an inspirational talk at half time. As with last week, Thistle came out of the blocks and went straight about the business of trying to get back into the game. Like last week it took until they were 2-0 down for them to get going but they did just that and created some great chances.

 

David Reid had a couple of decent opportunities that he might have done better with if he’d kept his composure but he shot high and wide. McStay again though looked the most likely to score, a low drive bringing out a fine save from Stewart, the keeper was the hero again for Cambuslang with a wonder point-blank save from a Reid header.

 

 

Graham Gracie also had his chances, he had the ball in the net but the goal was disallowed for a foul on the keeper and had a great chance to score when Stewart again saved well from McStay but could only parry the ball into his path, his shot was blocked by a Lang defender throwing himself in front of the ball for an excellent block.

 

Matty Clarke came on for Josh Payne early in the second half after he had hobbled off injured. Clarke showed he still has plenty to offer with a series of good runs at the Cambuslang defence that gave Thistle a different option to the long ball which wasn’t working at all against a very good defence whose keeper was the man of the match.

 

Thistle now find themselves as one of the five teams still to get off the mark with no points from the first two games, but can maybe take some consolation from the fact that the two teams they have lost to sit first and second at the top of the table.

 

Full time: Larkhall Thistle 0 Cambuslang Rangers 2

 

Larkhall Thistle:
Thomson; Brown, Robb, Reynolds; Jack (Canning 60); Payne (Clarke 52), Forbes, Innes, Reid, J McStay, Gracie (McKeever 85). Subs: Duncan (GK)

 

Cambuslang Rangers:
Stewart; Boyne, Gebbie, Smith, Boyle, Hay, McRobbie, Simeon, Love, Hewitt, Gormley. Subs: Mitchell, Kerr, Morley.

 

Booked: Forbes, Innes, Reid, Gracie, Clarke

 

MoM: Good workmanlike performances from most of the team and pleasing that they came back into the game and didn’t give it up but Stewart Thomson shades it with a couple of good saves.

 

*** Video up Sunday lunchtime

 

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: