Saturday 8th July 2017 - Pre-season friendly match
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Tony Fraser fires Glencairn into an early lead.
The Glens got their pre-season match schedule underway with their first away match against Carluke Rovers for almost 13 years, and the two sides' first ever meeting at The John Cumming Stadium. The travelling supporters also got their first chance to see some of the summer signings, with goalkeeper Jack Baker and midfielder Njabulo Ndlovu making their debuts, while striker Gary Smith also made an appearance from the substitutes' bench for the final half hour.
It didn't take Glencairn long to open their goal scoring account for pre-season as they took the lead in the 2nd minute. Jamie Hamilton's incisive run at the heart of the defence was stopped by a clear foul on the edge of the penalty area, and Tony Fraser fired the free kick past the wall and into the corner of the net (pictured at top).
It seemed that Glencairn were going to dominate the game as Alessandro Savarese almost pounced a couple of minutes later, but the home side were soon to be back on level terms. The referee ruled that Anthony Dempsey had fouled striker Ian Watt right on the edge of the penalty area, and he pointed to the penalty spot. Ian Watt dusted himself down and stepped up to fire the ball past Baker to make it 1-1.
Glencairn responded positively to this setback and good defending by the home side saw efforts by Hamilton and Del McNab both blocked away. McNab skinned his marker on the right in the 15th minute but his cross to the back post was just over the head of Ndlovu. A minute later Jay McKay muscled his way in between his marker and the goalkeeper and squeezed a shot towards goal, only for defender Reece Lowdon to get back onto the line to clear.
The home side were knocking the ball about confidently and competing well against their higher league opponents, but the majority of the goal scoring chances were falling to The Glens. McNab's low cross picked out Savarese at the near post, but home no.1 Rhys Murray made a good save at the striker's feet. Hamilton fed McKay on the left in the 28th minute and he skipped into the penalty area before firing across goal where Al El-Zubaidi had to clear off the goal line this time. The resulting corner by Ryan McArdle was headed over the bar from close range by Savarese.
A delicious cross by McArdle in the 34th minute picked out McKay in front of goal, but he couldn't direct his header on target and the ball slipped wide. There was a warning to the Glencairn rearguard in the 35th minute as a diagonal cross by Cameron Browning saw Watt get in between Andy Neil and outcoming goalkeeper Baker, but Watt headed over the bar from 14 yards out.
Glencairn continued to create chances and be wasteful in front of goal as half time approached. McNab was next to go close as he ran through on goal from the right edge of the penalty area, but Murray did well again to block. The ball was immediately recycled to McKay whose cross picked out the diving head of Ndlovu at the back post, but yet again the ball was cleared off the goal line.
A neat passing move by Carluke in the 42nd minute ended with a cross from the left which was headed over the bar by Mark Cassidy under good defensive pressure by Neil.
Half time : 1-1
Ryan McArdle and Alessandro Savarese in first half action.
There were four changes to the Glencairn line-up at the interval. KP McAllister took over in goals from Baker, while Stewart Hall replaced McNab wide on the right. The central midfield pairing of Hamilton and Ndlovu were given a rest and replaced by Ryan Bennett and Sean McGuire.
Carluke were rightly encouraged by their first half showing and took the game to Glencairn early in the second half, with former Glencairn under 21 player Greg Kane particularly prominent. James Martin was very unlucky with a speculative shot from distance which was tipped onto the crossbar by McAllister, and the goalkeeper was grateful to see the ball drop right back into his arms.
Glencairn went close again as a cross from the left was headed back across goal by Hall and headed over the bar from 8 yards by Savarese. McKay limped off with an ankle knock in the 52nd minute and was replaced by Fraser Team. Five minutes later McArdle's corner from the left picked out Hall at the back post, and he forced the ball into the path of Savarese whose shot from six yards was somehow blocked away for another corner.
Savarese was replaced just after the hour mark as The Glens' fans got their first look at new striker signing Gary Smith.
McAllister almost gifted Carluke the lead in the 65th minute as he threw the ball straight to Mark Haddow, but McAllister made amends by making a fine block to Haddow's shot. The Glens continued to pass up chances at the other end, as a fine passing move ended with Team firing the ball across the face of goal with nobody there to apply the finish. A minute later Hall's cross from the right picked out Team who volleyed over the crossbar from 16 yards.
The Glens were back in front in the 72nd minute as they took advantage of a defensive mix-up by the home side. A fine pass by Bennett released Team on the left who squared across goal. Rovers' substitute 'keeper David Thomson and a defender seemed to leave the ball to each other, leaving Stewart Hall free to run in and roll the ball into the net from close range.
The lead didn't last for long, though, as Carluke were level again in the 75th minute. A corner from the left was allowed to come right across the front of goal onto the head of Al El-Zabaidi who nodded the ball past the stranded McAllister to make it 2-2.
Carluke now sensed their chance to win the match, and Watt was allowed to carry on and shoot just over the bar despite being clearly offside and then fouling Craig McGregor before shooting.
There was applause from both sets of supporters in the 77th minute as Glencairn went close again. Smith's clever lay-off released McGuire through the centre, and the ball then broke back to Smith who drilled in a firm shot which was palmed round the post at full stretch by Thomson.
How the ball didn't cross the line for Glencairn in the 78th minute will need to be revealed by Gerry's video highlights, as a cross from the left ended with a stramash in front of goal, with Team, McGregor and Dempsey all trying unsuccessfully to force the ball into the net from inside the six yard box.
More good play by Smith in the 80th minute saw the ball fed down the left towards Team who out-paced his marker, but he tried to force the ball past Thomson at his near post instead of looking up for the better option of the supporting runners.
Carluke could have snatched a winner in the 82nd minute as they tried a carbon copy move from their 2nd equaliser, this time Lowdon nodding just over the bar from the same position that team mate El-Zubaidi had scored from earlier.
Smith's good touch and strength set up Bennett this time for a shot in the 84th minute, but the midfielder was always stretching for the effort and lifted his shot well over the crossbar.
There were to be no more goals at either end, and both sides seemed pleased with what they had got from the game. Willie Harvey commented, "I was happy with the work out considering it was our first match and with a few new players. We missed chances again and I was disappointed with the second goal that we lost, but apart from that I thought it was a good exercise for both sides."
Carluke Rovers :- Murray, Renwick, Gow, Lowdon, El-Zubaidi, Haddow, Martin, Browning, Watt, Cassidy, Kane. (Subs - Blacklaw, McNeish, Lambie, Thomson (gk).)
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Baker (McAllister), McGregor, Dempsey, Neil, Fraser, Hamilton (Bennett), McNab (Hall), Ndlovu (McGuire), Savarese (Smith), McArdle, McKay (Team).
Man of the match - (chosen by Tam Bennett) Tony Fraser.