Saturday 22nd August 2015 - Euroscot Central Sectional League Cup Group 4
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
David Dunnachie fires Glencairn into an early lead.
Glencairn recorded their third 3-2 win in six days, but it wasn't enough to grab the top spot in the Euroscot Engineering Central Sectional League Cup group as Vale of Clyde pipped The Glens to qualification on goal difference. In another strange coincidence, Glencairn's three goal scorers in this game were exactly the same as in the previous 3-2 win only three days ago.
Willie Harvey made five changes to the starting line-up, as he stuck by his rotation policy for the group games, trying to get the whole squad match fit ahead of the start of the league campaign next weekend.
Both teams went into the match with a chance of winning the group and qualifying for the quarter finals. Nothing less than a win would suffice for the visitors, but Glencairn had four different combinations of results between this game and Vale of Clyde's match that would have seen Glencairn qualify. What was definite, though, was that Glencairn had to better Vale's result by two goals if both teams ended up winning their games.
With this in mind, Glencairn's players started the match clearly intent on being positive and giving themselves every chance of achieving their target. Denis McLaughlin's reverse pass in the 2nd minute released Alan Muir on the right, and his square ball across goal was just too far in front of striker Mark Tait.
Tait robbed the ball off Vics defender Kevin Green in the 7th minute and ran clear on goal, but his shot was blocked out for a corner kick. The opening goal was only delayed a few seconds, though, as the corner was rolled to the edge of the penalty area, and the ball broke free just outside the penalty area. First to react was David Dunnachie, who drilled a precise low shot past Blantyre goalkeeper Paddy Macklin from 18 yards out (pictured at top).
There was no let-up in the tempo from Glencairn as they doubled their lead only three minutes later. Andy Neil's dinked pass over the defence picked out a trademark run from deep by midfielder Mark Batchelor, and he calmly lobbed the ball over Macklin to make it 2-0.
Blantyre hadn't threatened in the opening 15 minutes and, when Glencairn no.1 JC Hutchison punched clear from a corner, The Glens broke at speed to the other end, with Macklin saving at the feet of Tait.
The visitors were right back in the game in the 22nd minute, though. as they scored with their first serious attempt on goal. A corner from the right picked out the head of former Glencairn defender Lee McShane, and his header bounced down and up over the outstretched neck of Dunnachie on the goal line, and dropped into the net.
The home fans, who had watched their side in complete control of the game early on, were stunned only two minutes later as Blantyre equalised. William Ferguson found space on the left edge of the penalty area, and he crossed for Ryan Tiffney to apply the finish in front of goal.
Stuart Lunny fired wide from 20 yards after good hold up play by Ferguson as The Vics looked to take the lead, but Glencairn got their noses in front again five minutes before the interval. McShane misjudged the ball in the air, and Mark Tait was onto it in a flash, showing good composure as he controlled the ball, picked his spot and calmly rolled the ball past Macklin.
Some beautiful link play between McLaughlin and Tait ended with the latter just miscontrolling as he attempted to shoot, and Macklin made the save. Word had reached the ground that Vale of Clyde were drawing 1-1 at half time in the other game, so as things stood at this point Glencairn were in the qualifying position.
Half time : 3-2
Denis McLaughlin leads a first half Glencairn attack.
Both sides made a change at the interval. Blantyre brought on striker Steven Dymock to replace Duncan McGregor, while Glencairn introduced Mark McCarry to the left side of midfield to replace the injured Dunnachie, with Tony Fraser dropping into left back and Andy Neil into central defence.
The Vics were the first to threaten in the second half, with Green getting his head to a corner and heading back across the face of goal but wide of the far post. A minute later, at the other end, the energetic Batchelor cut into the box and crossed to McLaughlin, but the striker's attempted pass to Alan Muir was short and Blantyre's defence blocked the eventual shot.
Tait raced clear onto Dean Muir's precise pass in the 58th minute, but the ball didn't have enough pace on it to see him run clear of the defence. Tait rounded Macklin, but didn't have an angle to shoot, so rolled it back to McLaughlin whose shot was deflected into the side netting.
Tiffney had a chance to add to his tally for Vics in the 61st minute as he got clear on the left, but he fired wildly over the bar when well placed. Glencairn made their second change with Paul O'Connor replacing Dean Muir in midfield, and four minutes later Chris Zok replaced McLaughlin up front.
Word came through from East Kilbride that Vale of Clyde had regained the lead, and suddenly Glencairn needed to score another two goals to qualify. Glencairn re-shaped to a front three with McCarry joining Zok and Tait in the forward area, as they chased the required goals.
Alan Muir's corner in the 68th minute was headed out by McShane, but only as far as McCarry who rattled the top of the crossbar with a shot on the drop from 20 yards. Alan Muir's free kick from 25 yards brought Macklin into the action as he dived to his right to palm the ball round for another corner.
There was a nervy moment for Glencairn as Fraser chested the ball back to Hutchison against the balance of the goalkeeper, but he recovered to save the ball on the dive before it dropped over the goal line.
Blantyre brought Brian Healey into the action to replace Graeme Watson with 13 minutes left, and Hutchison had to be sharp to cut out a low curling cross in the 81st minute with two Vics defenders waiting to pounce on any fumble. Solid experienced defending by Fraser and Neil forced Ferguson to delay a cross with 6 minutes remaining, and he finally laid the ball back to Lunny who fired well over from 20 yards.
As the match moved into the final minute, Vics launched a high ball into the Glencairn penalty area. The ball wasn't effectively cleared first time, allowing Green the chance to head for the far corner, but the effort dropped inches wide of the far post to the relief of the home support.
With Glencairn's supporters now hoping for news of an equaliser for East Kilbride Thistle against Vale of Clyde, qualification looked doomed as the match moved into stoppage time. There was time for a final burst from Glencairn with the three substitutes combining, O'Connor feeding Zok on the right, and his cross spectacularly volleyed over the bar at the back post by McCarry.
The final effort of the match saw Paul Doyle head wide from Alan Muir's corner from the right, but it was all too late for The Glens and they had to settle for the win and second place in the final group table.
Glencairn will now look to take the momentum of three consecutive wins into the start of the league season, starting next Saturday with a trip away to today's opponents Blantyre Victoria.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison, Brown, Neil, Doyle, Dunnachie (McCarry), Dean Muir (O'Connor), Alan Muir, Batchelor, McLaughlin (Zok), Tait, Fraser. (Subs not used - Shaw, Nisanci.)
Blantyre Victoria :- Macklin, Amos, Sinclair, McShane, Green, Watson (Healey), McGregor (Dymock), Thompson, Tiffney, Lunny, Ferguson. (Subs not used - Mills, Greig, Burns (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Graeme Brown) Graeme Brown.