Gasworks Park, Larkhall
Larkhall Thistle v Maryhill
McBookie.com Super First Division
An early start to the rainy season saw a few junior games in the area postponed but Thistle’s game survived and if ever there was an early season game that they had to take something from this was it, home to the bottom team.
Liam Mushett has joined Stuart Thomson on the long-term injury list with a hamstring he picked up at Troon, Johnny McStay and Ryan Innes started on the bench which meant starts for Scott Nicholl, Gary McStay and Niall Reynolds.
The main positive to come out of what was a poor first half was that Thistle didn’t go two goals down. Gary McStay had the first clear-cut chance of the game in 15 minutes when he had time to bring the ball down and compose himself for a shot from eight yards out but he somehow mamaged to miss the target.
The Jags did take the lead though in 26 minutes with a penalty that was of the soft variety when Brian Jack was bundled over on the penalty spot. Mark Canning stepped up to convert, sending keeper Moore the wrong way.
If Thistle were below par, Maryhill were worse in the first half and it took them fully forty minutes to summon up their first real effort on goal, a tame shot that went past the post. The Jags could have increased their lead a minute later when Graham Gracie played a nice ball into the box for Reid to run onto, his shot beat the keeper but hit the bar.
Thistle ended a drab first half a goal up but there was the feeling that a single goal would not be enough.
Half time: Larkhall Thistle 1 Maryhill 0
Captain Mark Canning failed to reappear for the second half and the loss was a blow to Thistle who missed his leadership and calmness on the ball and they lost the momentum they had built up in the first half. Maryhill made a quick start with a header that came back off the bar and it set the tone for the second half.
Johnny McStay replaced Graham Gracie and made an impact right away with a run down the left and a good cross into the area, unfortunately though he didn’t produce much more in the rest of the game having dipped after showing good early season promise.
Maryhill drew level with a penalty given against Scott Nicholl which was debateable at best. The foul itself was a bit soft but the main talking point was about where it took place, difficult for the referee to spot exactly where it was but saying it was borderline on the 18 yard line would be generous.
The penalty was a carbon copy of Thistle’s, rolling the ball into the opposite corner from the keeper’s dive. After getting one penalty, Maryhill seemed to see penalties as their best option and there followed a series of dodgy claims that the referee rightly ignored.
Thistle had to wait until midway through the second half before their first real chance, Nicholl hit a free kick into the wall and it fell perfectly for Gary McStay who chose to try and dink the ball over Moore rather than putting his foot through it and the keeper got down to smother his effort.
For the remaining 25 minutes or so though, there looked to be only one team that was going to go on and win the game with Maryhill dominating the play and chances created.
The visitors took the lead with eight minutes to go, a free kick on the right was swept across and missed everybody in the middle, coming right through to the back post where the Maryhill man got in front of Craig Forbes to head over Duncan into the net.
With time running out, Matty Clarke and David Reid combined to win a corner. The Hill defence didn’t get the ball clear and it fell to Innes who slammed it in from close range.
A minute later Innes incredibly had a golden chance to wrap up all three points when a long punt into the box was rolled into his path by Gary McStay and he was in the clear ten yards out. Unfortunately though he hit his shot straight at Moore and the chance was gone.
It was a game Thistle could and should have won with the chances they had, on the other hand though Maryhill will be thinking the same and a draw was probably a fair result on the day. It doesn’t get any easier for the Jags as the next two weeks sees a visit to Kilwinning for the Scottish Cup then runaway league leaders Petershill at home.
Full time: Larkhall Thistle 2 Maryhill 2
Duncan; Robb (Clarke 71), Reynolds, Nicholl; Canning (Innes 45); Payne, Forbes, Jack, Reid; G McStay, Gracie (J McStay 56). Subs: Thomson (GK), McKeever.
Moore; Beckley, McGillion, McFarlane, Banes, Furay, Clark, Marenghi, Eaglesham, Crawford, McLarty. Subs: Owens, Mailey, Smith, Emsley, Preston
Scorers: Canning, Innes
Booked: Nicholl, Innes
MoM: Not much to go on today but Josh Payne plugged away and always gave 100%