Saturday 5th March 2016 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Glencairn goalkeeper JC Hutchison in commanding form early in the match.
Glencairn came desperately close to their first league win of the season at The Celsius Stadium, but they agonisingly had to settle for one point as visitors Cumbernauld United scrambled a draw courtesy of a 92nd minute penalty kick against their 10-man hosts. The Glens had played the last seventeen minutes of the match with ten men, but it looked like they would hold on for a much-needed win, only to see it grabbed away from them right at the death.
Once again the Glencairn playing squad was stretched to the limit, with Jonny Boal, Andy Neil, Dean Muir, Ryan Docherty, Tony Fraser and Mark Tait all ruled out through a mixture of injury, illness and suspension. Tait was named on the substitutes' bench, but the striker was only to be used in an absolute necessity. Under 21 midfielder Danny Salah made his first start for the first team on the left flank, while there were first home appearances for new signings Del McNab and Mark Duffy who had both scored on their debuts last week.
The Glens were on the front foot from the kick off, and took just over a minute to take the lead. A lovely clipped pass by Sean McGuire saw Mark Duffy spring the offside trap, and he knocked the ball round goalkeeper Steven McGuire before firing into the net from a tight angle, his second goal in two competitive games since joining the club.
It was the perfect start for Glencairn, and they looked to press home that advantage as they had United pinned in their own half for most of the opening fifteen minutes. Mark Batchelor started a move which released McGuire inside the box, and his square ball fell back for Batchelor, who couldn't get a clean connection on his shot and Steven McGuire saved from close range.
A combination of goalkeeper McGuire and former Glencairn winger Kris Irvine somehow denied what seemed a certain goal for Salah as McNab's cross found its way across goal to the back post, and then defender Ryan Sullivan headed over his own crossbar to deny Duffy getting on the end of McNab's cross from the right. The pressure continued as Kenny Hadden saw his shot from 25 yards deflected wide of target for a corner kick.
Alan Muir picked up a silly yellow card at the mid point of the first half after diving into a challenge in frustration at not getting an obvious foul on himself only seconds earlier. United's first real threat of the match came when Irvine's low cross from the right was only partially cleared by Brian Eadie, and Scott McHaffie drilled in a shot which Glencairn no.1 JC Hutchison tipped over the bar at full stretch.
The Glens got a reward for their domination just after the half hour mark when they doubled their lead. David Dunnachie's pass bounced off Sullivan into the path of Mark Batchelor, and he produced a delightful chipped finish over McGuire and into the empty net, his fifth goal of the season.
Cumbenauld battled to get back into contention as the match moved towards half time, and Irvine's corner from the right almost came onto the head of Sullivan, Hutchison judging the ball perfectly to grab it just before the defender's header right in front of goal.
Just as it looked like The Glens would take their two goal lead into the interval, Cumbernauld grabbed themselves a lifeline right on the stroke of half time. Dale Clark and Dylan McGuigan burst forward at the heart of the defence, and Clark's clever flick set up Ross Foley to score from close range and change the nature of the managers' team talks.
Half time : 2-1
Glencairn started the second half positively again, and Muir's inviting cross was headed away from in front of goal by Steph McDonald before Dunnachie could pounce. The pressure continued as Salah's shot was blocked and Duffy's rebound effort on the turn was hooked off the goal line by Mikey McLaughlin.
Salah continued to impress as he cut in past McHaffie on the left touch line and squared for Batchelor at the near post, who was just snuffed out by the attentions of goalkeeper McGuire.
There were strong shouts for a penalty kick for Cumbernauld when Clark skipped past Hadden on the right and then cut the ball back as he was tackled by Muir, but the referee waved play on, and that appeared to be a lucky break for Glencairn.
The nature of the final stages of the match was set when Muir clattered into a late tackle on Clark in the centre of the park, and the referee produced a second yellow card for the Glens' playmaker, and the home side now had to try and hold onto their lead with ten men.
Glencairn didn't sit back and try to soak up the pressure, though, and Salah showed some delightful skill on the left to set up Duffy for a shot which bounced up unluckily on the surface just before the shot, and the ball flew well over the crossbar.
As the match moved towards a close, however, United naturally pressed forward, and Foley should have equalised when he got in behind Hadden, but Hutchison narrowed the angle well and made an excellent save.
Hutchison was on his toes on several occasions to cut out dangerous crosses whenever United got in behind the defence, and it looked like The Glens were going to do just enough to take all three points, despite the one-man disadvantage.
Then came the moment that broke the hearts of the home supporters in the second minute of stoppage time. United forced the ball forward again, and it broke fortunately into the path of substitute Stevie Mullen. Hutchison raced from his line and Mullen knocked the ball up into the air and collided with the big stopper. The referee immediately blew his whistle and pointed to the penalty spot, and Dale Clark fired his shot past Hutchison to make it 2-2.
The match restarted briefly but there was no time for either side to create any more chances, and Glencairn were left to think "if only" yet again.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison, Brown, Hadden, Eadie, Dunnachie, Batchelor, McNab (Copeland), McGuire, Duffy (Cullen), Alan Muir, Salah (Trialist). (Subs not used - Tait, Mastraszek (gk).)
Cumbernauld United :- McGuire, McHaffie, Foley, Sullivan, James Brown, McGuigan, McLaughlin, Dickson, McDonald (Mullen), Clark, Irvine (O'Halloran). (Subs not used - Kieran Brown, McArdle, Pyott.)
Man of the match - (chosen by Kenny Paul) Danny Salah.