Saturday 6th February 2016 - Scottish Under 21 Cup Quarter Final
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Anton Phinn in first half action.
Glencairn Under 21s' hopes of going through the entire season undefeated and with a clean sweep of the honours were brought to a shuddering halt with a comprehensive defeat away to Bonnyton Thistle in the quarter final of the Scottish Cup. The young Glens' first defeat of the season still leaves them with four competitions to play for, but there was huge disappointment in the camp after this result, although there was no disputing that the home team thoroughly deserved their place in the semi final.
There was a huge pre-match blow for the Glens with the news that their midfield engine room of captain Ryan Bennett, Connor McGuiness and Craig Young were all sidelined due to a mixture of suspension and holidays. Consequently it was a makeshift midfield which was deployed with a mixture of players playing out of position, creating a disjointed effect to the team.
Bonnyton's first threat came as early as the 3rd minute as Chris Kelly set up Kyle Gilroy, whose scuffed shot was saved by Glencairn no.1 Chris Truesdale. The warning wasn't heeded, however, and the home side took the lead in the 9th minute. A cross from the right seemed to hang in the wind, and Kyle Gilroy got in between defenders to head the ball past the helpless Truesdale to make it 1-0.
Glencairn responded by going on the offensive for the first time in the match, and Anton Phinn saw a shot blocked before Jason McArthur's rebound effort flew high and wide. Disaster struck again for the young Glens in the 22nd minute, though, as Bonnyton doubled their lead in fortuitous fashion. A free kick on the right was rolled along the touchline to Kyle Gilroy, and he lifted a cross into the middle which seemed to get caught in the wind again, and the ball dropped over the top of Truesdale and into the net off the far post.
It was already a long way back for Glencairn, but they went close on the half hour mark as Phinn's cross was head flicked on by McArthur, and Thistle no.1 Stuart Cowan had to reach back to tip the ball over the crossbar at full stretch.
Gilroy was in the mood for a first half hat-trick, and he was denied by the crossbar in the 32nd minute, and then by Truesdale's legs after the striker had been set up by a mazy run by Craig Patterson. A terrific block by Ross McConville denied Patterson in the 36th minute and Gilroy was once again unable to convert the rebound, denied again in front of goal by Truesdale. From the resulting corner, Truesdale was called into the action again to beat away an angled near post effort by Ian Paterson.
The next goal was going to be crucial, and Glencairn almost grabbed it in the 41st minute. Peter Copeland fed Mark McHendry on the right, and he drilled the ball across the face of goal, just too far in front of striker Dale Wallace to connect in the middle. The Glens' spell of pressure continued as a corner wasn't effectively cleared and McConville's shot was deflected wide, and then Phinn had a shot from the edge of the penalty box blocked away in front of goal.
Bonnyton upped the pace again just before the interval and Truesdale kept his side in the game with terrific saves, firstly denying Gilroy's hat trick yet again and then from Patterson.
Half time :- 2-0
Shaun Roberts battles for first half possession.
The coaching staff had to try something to change the flow of the game, and their choice was to make a double change. Mark McHendry and Anthony Dempsey were withdrawn, and replaced by Danny Salah and new signing Njablo Ndlovu, with Copeland reverting to right back and Euan Conroy moving to left back.
It was vital that the young Glens made a good start to the second half, but it couldn't have been worse as Bonnyton were awarded a penalty kick in the 47th minute for a handball blocking a shot. Craig Patterson stepped up to drive the ball past Truesdale, and the game was effectively over as a contest at that point.
Patterson went close again in the 54th minute as he raced away from the defence, but he pulled his shot across goal and wide of the far post. Glencairn should have had a penalty kick on the hour mark when goalkeeper Cowan raced out to block a 50/50 with McArthur and missed the ball completely but contacted with McArthur, but for whatever reason the referee chose not to point to the spot. Wallace tried to lob Cowan from 40 yards at the mid point of the second half, but the home no.1 got back to save above his head on the goal line.
Glencairn battled to get back into the match, but their efforts were thwarted.
Glencairn's last throw of the dice saw Paul Ross Caughey replace David Quinn in midfield, and the team continued to try to retrieve the match, but they were lacking in creative inspiration, although a mazy dribble by Phinn almost turned the key in the 67th minute, McArthur slicing his shot wide at the end of the move.
Bonnyton put some shine on the scoreline by making it 4-0 in the 79th minute. A cross from the left was met by the head of Ian Paterson, and his effort dipped over Truesdale and into the net.
To the young Glens' credit, they kept trying to the end, and Copeland's shot from 25 yards was brilliantly saved at full stretch by Cowan, and the goalkeeper repeated his heroics only seconds later to deny Caughey, tipping both efforts round the post.
Truesdale's battle to deny Gilroy his hat trick continued with another save to deny the striker as he raced clean through on goal. Two substitutes almost combined to give Glencairn a consolation in the closing minutes as Salah's run ended with a lob by Caughey which hit the top of the crossbar and bounced over. Cowan's determination to keep a clean sheet continued right to the 93rd minute, diving full length to his right to palm away a snap shot by Wallace.
Under 21 co-managers Alex McArthur and Andy McFadyen were finding it hard to conceal their disappointment after the game, but they realised that nobody was more upset than the players themselves. Alex commented, "It's how they react to this that's important now. This group of players are not used to defeat, but they have so much still to play for and a league to win, so we'll get them back up for next weekend and get ready to get back on track."
Bonnyton Thistle u21s :- Cowan, Laphorn, Hunter (McMillan), McCrum, Strachan, Paterson, Kelly (Mears), Barrie, Gilroy, Patterson (Hill), Maguire (Gardiner). (Sub not used - Purdie.)
Rutherglen Glencairn u21s :- Truesdale, Dempsey (Ndlovu), McHendry (Salah), Conroy, McConville, Roberts, McArthur, Copeland, Wallace, Quinn (Caughey), Phinn. (Subs not used - McCorry, Sproull.)
Man of the match - (chosen by Alex Forbes) Chris Truesdale.