The Beltane, Wishaw
Wishaw v Larkhall Thistle
Central League First Division
Thistle recalled Andy Brown to right back and moved Niall Reynolds to left back, Liam Mushett started at centre half. Ryan Innes was recalled to midfield and Mark McKeever started up front with Graham Gracie. Brian Jack and Matty Clarke dropped to the bench.
Wishaw made the brighter start to the game and it wasn’t till after five minutes that Thistle even got out off their own half but the early efforts didn’t result in any chances being created.
The Jags did come into the game as the half went on but apart from a couple of long range efforts from Mark Canning there wasn’t really much of a threat to the home goal, meanwhile Wishaw had one good chance to take the lead but ex-Thistle player Ross McGeachie squandered a free header from close range.
The half was saved from mediocrity though with a great goal just before half time, David Reid firing a tremendous shot on the volley that gave the home keeper no chance.
Half time: Wishaw 0 Larkhall Thistle 1
Thistle increased their lead eight minutes into the second half when McKeever did well to play the ball out of defence to Graham Gracie on the left, he switched the ball across the park to Josh Payne on the right who took a fantastic touch to control the ball and leave the first defender, he then cut inside past another and drilled the ball low into the bottom corner.
Wishaw hardly had time to recover from this blow when Ryan Innes nearly added a third goal, Reid drove a free kick across the area and Reggie stooped to glance the ball goalwards and only the face of the bar stopped it from being a goal. The ball dropped back down into the box three yards out but there were no takers and the home defence scrambled it clear.
Wishaw pressed looking to get back into the game and got a lifeline through a penalty award for handball by Innes. As Thomson dived to his left the ball was calmly rolled into the opposite side of the goal.
The home fightback only lasted a few minutes though as Larkhall went right back up the park and set McKeever clear, the last home defender having no option but to pull him down to save what would probably have been a goal. The referee awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and sent the defender off and to add to their misery Reid slammed the free kick low into the net through the wall.
The drama continued to unfold as next Ryan Innes completed an eventful return by getting a second yellow card for a mistimed tackle. This gave Wishaw fresh hope and they were on top for most of the rest of the game, bringing out two cracking saves from Thomson to preserve the lead as well as missing a few good chances – McGeachie being the culprit on more than one occasion.
Dunky Sinclair made two late substitutions, bringing on Matty Clarke and Brian Jack for Mark McKeever and Hugh Kelly, both having put in tremendous shifts.
It was a win Thistle needed to keep pace with leaders Cambuslang Rangers and St Roch’s who both also won today and keeps the Jags well in the hunt for the promotion places.
Full time: Wishaw 1 Larkhall Thistle 3
Website man of the match: Very difficult today with the whole defence looking solid and only spoiling the clean sheet with a soft penalty, Canning and Kelly controlling the centre of the park and Gracie and McKeever battling all day up front, but MoM this week goes to David Reid for the extra bit of quality he brought with two fine goals.
S. Thomson; Brown, Mushett, Reynolds; Kelly (Jack 85), Payne, Innes, Canning, Reid; McKeever (Clarke 80), Gracie.
Scorers: Reid (2) Payne
Booked: Mushett, Kelly
Sent off: Innes