Saturday 30th September 2017 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Alessandro Savarese goes close for Glencairn early in the match.
Glencairn's run of three wins in a row came to a grinding halt as they slipped to a narrow defeat at the hands of Cumbernauld United at The Celsius Stadium. It was an excellent match between two very evenly matched sides, but in the end it was another defensive calamity which led to all three points heading back up the M73 motorway.
There was only one change to The Glens' starting line-up from the previous week's win in the Scottish Junior Cup, and it was an enforced one. Top goal scorer Liam Gormley was unable to shake off a groin strain picked up in training during the week and, with other summer striker signings Gary Smith and Graham Boyd also injured, it was Alessandro Savarese who partnered Jay McKay up front.
Ironically with Glencairn struggling for bodies up front, Cumbernauld's team included McKay's regular partner from last season in Fraser Team, whom Glencairn had sold to United only a couple of weeks earlier. Also in the United line-up was evergreen 41-year-old midfielder Davie Dickson, the former double league winning captain of Glencairn.
It was a positive start from Glencairn, and they went close to opening the scoring in the 2nd minute as Stewart Hall went on the first of several darting runs which were to become a feature of the match. His final slipped pass to Savarese saw the striker flagged for offside (pictured at top), and the shot was sliced high and wide in any case.
The Glens remained on the front foot and Ryan McArdle's corner from the right was just missed at the near post by Savarese, and United threw defenders in the way to block efforts by Jordan Leyden and Jamie Hamilton after the ball wasn't properly cleared.
Cumbernauld's first clear sight of goal came in the 14th minute as the ball bounced awkwardly off defender Rhys Donaldson. Robbie Winters pounced on the loose ball and released Team on the left edge of the penalty area, but he pulled his shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
McKay should have put Glencairn ahead in the 17th minute when a short corner was crossed first time by Hamilton right onto the head of the striker on the 6 yard line, but he mis-timed his jump and nodded the ball over the crossbar. Play swung back to the other end only moments later with Winters pouncing on another defensive slip this time by Andy Neil, the cross aimed for Team being anticipated well by Donaldson to clear for a corner kick.
Another overlapping run by Hall saw him link with Hamilton and and his cross from the right was headed clear by Scott Murphy, before The Glens made the breakthrough in the 21st minute. McArdle won possession in his own half before feeding Savarese on the left flank. The striker skipped past his marker and burst into the penalty area before squaring to Jay McKay who had run off his marker to fire into the net from six yards.
The Glens looked to build on their lead, and McKay's near post shot was blocked for a corner after more good work on the right by Hall in the 23rd minute. The resulting corner from McArdle was met by the head of Craig McGregor (pictured below), with United goalkeeper Jordan Brown diving full length to palm the ball round the post for another corner.
Play swung from one end to the other in the 25th minute as Glencairn goalkeeper KP McAllister did just enough to palm Winters' cross away from the in-rushing Dickson. The Glens broke swiftly up the field with Leyden feeding McArdle who in turn released Savarese in on goal, but he slipped his shot under Brown and narrowly wide of the far post.
There's an old cliche in football of "goals change games", and that was the case on the half hour mark. Glencairn had been well on top in the game but missed chances to give themselves more than a single goal lead, and United's equaliser turned the flow of the game in the 30th minute. Scott Murphy's free kick towards goal was headed back out only as far as Davie Dickson, whose volley on the drop squeezed into the net past the diving McAllister at the base of the post.
Suddenly it was a different game, and United could have gone in front in the 31st minute as Jamie Watson cut in from the left and curled a shot narrowly over the crossbar. Only a few seconds later Scott Murphy tried his luck with a skidding shot which slipped half a yard wide of goal.
McKay got his head on the end of McArdle's corner in the 34th minute but once again headed over the bar as chances continued to come at both ends in what was an entertaining contest. Moments later at the other end a corner from the right found the free head of Winters at the back post, and he should have done better than nodding over the crossbar from six yards.
The visitors edged in front right on the stroke of half time, and it's fair to say the home defence didn't cover themselves in glory. A cross from a free kick on the left by Scott Murphy was allowed to bounce inside the six yard box with no defenders or goalkeeper attacking the ball, and it bounced off the far post into the net.
Half time :1-2
Jay McKay challenges for possession with Cumbernauld defender Jamie Kennedy.
Both sides were unchanged for the start of the second half, and The Glens set about getting back on level terms. McKay's lay-off set up Savarese for a dipping shot in the 46th minute which dropped just over Brown's crossbar. At the other end a few minutes later Dickson almost haunted his old club again as he pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area but pulled his shot well wide of goal this time.
A darting run by Paddy McCabe in the 55th minute ended with him going down inside the penalty area under a challenge by Neil, but the referee ignored the claims for a spot kick to the relief of the home support. Another slack pass by Neil saw United break in the 57th minute, McAllister smothering Watson's angled low shot. McAllister saved again a minute later as Team latched onto Winters' head flick and tried to lob towards goal.
Just as United's equaliser in the first half changed the flow of the game, the same thing happened in the opposite direction just before the hour mark. A diagonal pass by McArdle picked out McKay on the left, and he cut into the penalty area before being brought down from behind by Jamie Kennedy. It was an easy decision for the referee to blow for a spot kick, and Jay McKay picked himself off the floor to send Brown the wrong way (pictured below) to make it 2-2.
United made the first substitutions in the 63rd minute, with Winters and Scott Murphy being replaced by Martin Shiels and Michael McLaughlin respectively. Glencairn responded shortly afterwards with Connor Brannigan asked to play up front alongside McKay, replacing Savarese. Leyden passed up a good opportunity with a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, curling the ball harmlessly over the crossbar.
McAllister made a terrific save in the 70th minute to deny Watson after the defence had failed to clear their lines again, getting a strong hand to a close range shot to palm the ball round the post. Tony Fraser replaced Sean McGuire in central midfield in the 72nd minute, and three minutes later United made their final change as William Wells replaced Watson.
The match was on a knife-edge now and you felt there could be a winner at either end. Fraser's free kick in the 76th minute fell to Brannigan at the back post, but it seemed to take him by surprise and the ball bounced agonisingly just wide of the post when a goal seemed certain. Hall was still being direct with his runs and he slipped the ball wide to Brannigan before continuing his run to receive the return pass, his near post squeezed shot hitting the side netting.
Glencairn's final change saw Craig Young replace Leyden in midfield as the match moved into it's final 10 minutes. Young's first contribution was an important one as he headed off the line from Wells' header in the 81st minute. The end-to-end nature continued as McKay set up Hamilton for a goal-bound curled effort which was headed clear by defender Tony Stevenson in front of goal.
MArdle's corner from the left in the 84th minute once again picked out the head of McKay, but he was leaning back and could only loop his hat trick attempt into the hands of Brown on his line. The twist in the tale arrived in the 85th minute as United were gifted the winning goal. A long ball from the back was badly misjudged in the air by Neil, and McAllister hesitated slightly in coming out to gather the ball, allowing William Wells to nip in between to force the ball past McAllister and into the empty net to make it 3-2 to the visitors.
There was still time for Glencairn to press for another equaliser, but United's defence stood strong. There were to be no more near things to report with the referee curiously adding on only two minutes of stoppage time, despite six substitutions and a few other short stoppages. Results elsewhere meant that The Glens remained in 8th place in the league table, but with plenty of work to do to press for the big prize of one of the four automatic promotion places.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- McAllister, McGregor, Neil, Donaldson, Leyden (Young), McGuire (Fraser), Hall, Hamilton, Savarese (Brannigan), McArdle, McKay. (Subs not used - Grier, Baker (gk).)
Cumbernauld United :- Brown, Kennedy, McBride, Stevenson, Paul Murphy, Scott Murphy (McLaughlin), McCabe, Dickson, Watson (Wells), Winters (Shiels), Team. (Subs not used - McGuigan, Buchanan (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Allan Maxwell) Stewart Hall.