Rutherglen Glencairn Football Club

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Blantyre Victoria 0 Rutherglen Glencairn 0

Saturday 29th August 2015 - West Region Super League Division One

(Report by Peter Ferguson)

Blantyre Victoria 3

Tony Fraser starts a first half move for Glencairn.

Glencairn were left frustrated at not taking all three points on the opening day of the league season, despite playing the final twenty minutes with only ten men away from home against newly-promoted Blantyre Victoria. The Glens were left to rue a string of missed chances, in the first half in particular, and were also frustrated by some highly questionable offside decisions in the second half by the referee, who was left without any assistants due to a decision by the SFA to remove the initially allocated officials on the day before the game.

With the teams having met as recently as last weekend in the Central Sectional League Cup, it was no surprise that both managers chose to shuffle their packs for the start of the league season. Glencairn were without the midfield trio of Sean McGuire (holiday), Dean Muir (work) and Mark Batchelor (suspended), but Adam Nisanci was recalled to the starting line-up and player/coach Brian Welsh made his first appearance of the season in the holding role behind Alan Muir in central midfield. Jonny Boal returned at left back in place of the injured David Dunnachie, allowing Andy Neil to return to central defence, and Adam Shaw came in at right back with Graeme Brown missing through illness. Blantyre made five changes to the team that had lost at New Southcroft Park last week, with several players returning from injury.

With this being the home side's first ever match at Super League level after back-to-back title wins in the Central District Leagues, they started the match in enthusiastic fashion and on the front foot, but Glencairn defended calmly and dealt with what was thrown at them in the opening minutes without much in the way of danger to Glencairn goalkeeper JC Hutchison.

The referee angered the Glencairn contingent as early as the fourth minute as he waved away loud appeals for a penalty kick, when Vics defender Terry Hewitt hauled Denis McLaughlin to the floor and ripped the striker's shirt as Welsh lifted a high ball into the penalty area. Blantyre instead were allowed to break upfield, and the move ended with Steven Dymock firing the ball well over the crossbar.

Glencairn had a great chance to take the lead in the 6th minute when a beautifully disguised pass by Muir released Mark Tait clean through on goal, but home no.1 Paul Burns denied the striker with an excellent block with his legs when a goal seemed certain. Glencairn's pressure continued, and a mazy dribble by McLaughlin ended with a shot by Nisanci which was parried by Burns, and defender Kevin Green threw himself in front of McLaughlin to block the rebound.

Blantyre Victoria 2

Denis McLaughlin's footwork was a regular weapon for Glencairn in the early stages.

McLaughlin continued to be at the centre of the Glencairn threat, and he drilled a speculative effort over the crossbar from 25 yards when perhaps a pass would have been more productive.

The Vics started to exert some pressure in the 17th minute, and Tony Fraser had to make a sharp block when the ball had fallen kindly for striker Craig Smith. From the resulting cross, Dymock and Terry Hewitt got in each other's way, meaning the ball dropped harmlessly wide, instead of either player having a free header on goal.

Smith fired over the bar in the 19th minute after a pass by Ryan Tiffney had sprung the offside trap on the right hand side. A long throw by Kevin Green was headed out by Paul Doyle, but only as far as William Ferguson who took a good first touch before volleying over the crossbar.

The 33rd minute almost saw the deadlock broken with what would have been a delightful team goal by Glencairn involving no fewer than seven players. The move started in the right back position, and the ball was moved from right to left by some sharp passing in midfield. Fraser fed Tait, whose clever flick slipped McLaughlin in on goal, but once again Burns was off his line sharply to make an excellent block.

Tait found himself with another great chance in the 40th minute after Boal's pass had released the striker, but he took a touch too many to get his shot away and the effort was blocked, leaving the black and white support somewhat frustrated at the interval.

Half time : 0-0

Blantyre Victoria 1

Typically strong defending by Andy Neil in the first half.

Both teams were unchanged for the start of the second half, and it took until the 56th minute for any real action of note, when Blantyre's corner from the right was met by the head of Mark Thomson, but Muir scrambled the ball away from in front of goal.

Burns was the hero for Blantyre again just before the hour mark, as he dived to his left to get a hand to McLaughlin's low drilled shot, the big stopper doing just enough to turn the ball inches wide of the post.

The Vics hadn't tested Hutchison in the Glencairn goal other than catching crosses, as the many high balls lauched towards the home strikers were eaten up by the efficient Doyle and Neil. A corner from the left picked out the head of Kevin Green at the back post, but Doyle was sharp to react and made a headed block.

The mid point of the second half saw Boal release Fraser into the penalty area but, as he looked up to pick out a striker, Fraser over-hit his cross and the home side breathed again. Blantyre were forced into a change immediately after this with David Green limping off to be replaced by Graeme Watson.

Glencairn's task became more difficult in the 73rd minute when they were reduced to 10 men. Ferguson battled for possession on the right with Fraser and Boal defending and, when Ferguson tumbled to the ground, Boal kicked the ball against the midfielder as he lay on the grass. To the surprise of just about everybody in the ground, the referee produced a straight red card for Boal, with even the home supporters openly expressing their surprise at the harshness of the decision.

Caption contest

Willie Harvey and Joe Pryce discuss how to reshuffle the pack.

Fraser tucked into left back and Tait dropped into left midfield as Glencairn changed to 4-4-1, but the visitors hadn't given up hope of stealing the points. Blantyre continued with their policy of launching high balls, which seemed to suit the Glencairn defence just fine. Meanwhile the referee continued to frustrate the travelling support with a marginal offside call against Tait.

Andrew Sinclair tested Hutchison in the 79th minute with a low shot, but the Glencairn no.1 got down low to his right to make a comfortable save. Four minutes later a ball over the top saw McLaughlin run clear from a clearly onside position, but once again the referee blew, prompting disbelief from the Glencairn players.

McLaughlin was replaced by the fresh legs of Chris Zok for the closing minutes and, despite the man disadvantage, it was Glencairn who created the better chances as the match drew towards a conclusion. Zok held up play well in the 88th minute and fed Muir, who in turn set up Nisanci for a low shot which Burns saved on the dive to his left.

A minute later, another long ball from Blantyre broke off the challenge between Dymock and Neil, but Ryan Tiffney sliced his attempted volley well wide of the target.

There was still time for one more auto-pilot offside decision from the referee, blowing his whistle against Shaw's overlapping run as he was released by Zok in the 92nd minute when the striker looked to have timed his pass to perfection.

And so the match ended in a goalless stalemate and, despite the one-man disadvantage for a quarter of the game, it was the Glencairn supporters who left feeling a little disappointed that they hadn't grabbed all three points.

Blantyre Victoria :- Burns, Amos, Sinclair, Kevin Green, Hewitt, Thomson, Ferguson, David Green (Watson), Smith, Dymock, Tiffney. (Subs not used - McShane, Murray, Macklin (gk).)

Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison, Shaw, Boal, Doyle, Neil, Welsh, Nisanci, Alan Muir, McLaughlin (Zok), Tait, Fraser. (Subs not used - McCarry, Cullen, O'Connor, Mastraszek (gk).)

Man of the match - (chosen by Peter Ferguson) A joint award to Paul Doyle and Andy Neil.

Paul Doyle Andy Neil

Paul Doyle             Andy Neil

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