Saturday 19th July 2014 - James Glen Memorial Trophy (Kilbirnie Ladeside tournament)
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Glens trialist David Dunnachie (on the ground) goes close to scoring early in the match.
Glencairn made a positive start to their pre-season match schedule with a 3-0 win over Dalry Thistle in the annual pre-season tournament hosted by Kilbirnie Ladeside. The result means that The Glens will now play the hosts in the final tomorrow after they squeezed past Kilwinning Rangers in a penalty shoot-out.
With several players unavailable due to a mixture of work, holidays and injury, there was a familiar look to the Glencairn starting line-up for the travelling supporters. There was only one new face in the starting line-up, former Thorniewood United central defender David Dunnachie, while among the substitutes was another former Thorniewood player in goalkeeper Barry Fraser.
The Ayrshire District League side were the first to threaten, as James McPherson fired just wide in the 4th minute after getting a pass from a quick free kick. Glencairn's first clear chance came in the 8th minute when Kris Irvine's cross from the right was missed by the defence, allowing Gavin Ross the chance to take a touch before firing over the crossbar.
Dunnachie almost put Glencairn in front in the 13th minute when he got on the end of Irvine's inviting free kick, but he couldn't quite force the ball over the line and Thistle goalkeeper Brian Hewitt was grateful to smother the ball (pictured at top).
Irvine was the main threat at this stage, and he set up the opening goal in the 19th minute with a delightful diagonal ball over the top of the defence, where Gavin Ross took an excellent first touch before rolling the ball under Hewitt to put Glencairn 1-0 ahead.
The same two players almost combined to double the lead five minutes later as Irvine's corner was met by the head of Ross, but the ball was scrambled off the goal line by a Dalry defender.
There was a blow for Dalry just before the half hour mark as defender Robbie Halliday limped off injured and was replaced by Mark Russell. Glencairn almost took advantage of that defensive change immediately as Thomas Kilmartin got in behind the defence and cut the ball back into the path of Sean McGuire, but he sclaffed his shot wide of the target from eight yards.
Irvine continued to threaten as he was released through on goal himself but drilled his shot over the crossbar, before he picked out Ross again at the back post in the 33rd minute, Hewitt this time denying the big striker.
As half time approached, Dalry started to assert their authority on the Glencairn defence, with Russell being denied by a great tackle by Dunnachie as he seemed set to score from close range. Russell appeared to be bundled from behind by Andy Neil in the 37th minute but the referee wasn't interested in awarding a penalty kick, to the relief of the Glencairn support. Glens' no.1 JC Hutchison made a good stop shortly afterwards, saving from a low shot by Ross Loughlin.
The Glens weathered that spell of pressure and went close to increasing their lead twice just before the half time whistle. First of all Ross outmuscled his marker before firing a rising shot which Hewitt saved on his goal line, and then Ross went close again with header from Keiran Donaghy's corner which was straight into the arms of Hewitt.
Half time : 0-1
There were two changes for Glencairn at the interval, with Ross rested and replaced up front by Jamie MacLeod, while Nicky Sullivan was a direct replacement for McGuire in central midfield. Kyle Cumming replaced Jason Boyle up front for Thistle.
Dalry were the brighter side at the start of the second half, and Cumming almost made an instant impact on the game as he fired over the bar from close range with an open goal in the 46th minute, but to be fair he was stretching for a ball which was moving at a fair pace.
Jamie Boyle had a golden chance to equalise for Thistle in the 48th minute as he beat the offside trap and raced through on goal, but Hutchison stood up long enough and won the battle of wills, saving well with his legs. A goal seemed certain for Dalry in the 53rd minute as Loughlin danced round Neil at the back post and drove the ball across goal, but the ball rebounded off Dunnachie and straight into the arms of Hutchison on the ground.
Thistle continued to be the more dangerous side as the match reached the hour mark, and Jamie Friels' cross was cleverly head flicked just over the crossbar by Loughlin. The Glens hadn't really threatened in the second half, until MacLeod won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area and Irvine's cross was headed over by Neil in the 63rd minute.
Glencairn made another change, with under 21 winger Ryan Bennett replacing Donaghy, with Irvine switching from the right wing to the left.
The match changed completely in the 67th minute in a nightmare few seconds for Thistle goalkeeper Hewitt. The stopper gifted the ball straight to Kilmartin, who tried to dribble round him to score but was tripped as he knocked the ball round Hewitt. The referee awarded a penalty kick and also showed a straight red card to Hewitt. Thistle did not have a substitute goalkeeper on the bench, so central defender Ciaran Friels took over in goal to face the spot kick, which Thomas Kilmartin despatched decisively to make it 2-0.
The Glens made another change at this stage, with another youth prospect getting the chance to shine, young Josh McCorry replacing Dunnachie at centre back.
To their credit, Dalry refused to give up and, when they won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, Jamie Boyle rattled his shot off the top of the crossbar, the force of the shot seeing the ball disappear well over the tall trees about 25 yards behind the goal.
It was a hard shift for Thistle now, though, with Glencairn confortable on the two-goal lead and with an extra player, and against a makeshift goalkeeper. The lead was increased in the 78th minute when a free kick was awarded on the edge of the penalty area, and Kris Irvine drilled in a shot which beat the defensive wall and fizzed past the helpless Ciaran Friels.
With the game well and truly won, goalkeeper Huthison was withdrawn as trialist Barry Fraser was brought on to replace him between the sticks. Bennett almost produced a fourth goal for Glencairn in the 81st minute as he dribbled past three defenders before being blocked out.
Thistle mamager Gavin Friels brought himself on for the closing minutes and almost got on the scoresheet as he got on the end of an inswinging free kick, but Fraser did enough to deny him. Fraser made a confident save shortly afterwards as McPherson drilled in a diagonal shot from 18 yards out.
The Glens played out the closing stages by conserving energy and playing "keep ball", happy with the scoreline and looking ahead to the final the following day. Glencairn manager Willie Harvey declared himself happy with what he had seen, but saw plenty of room for improvement. "We played well in patches and should maybe have scored a few more goals if we had been a wee bit sharper up front, but it was good to keep a clean sheet as well."
Dalry Thistle :- Hewitt, Jamie Friels (Gavin Friels), Guinnea, Halliday (Russell), Ciaran Friels, Calder, McPherson, Lockhart, Jamie Boyle, Jason Boyle (Kyle Cumming), Loughlin.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison (Fraser), Galloway, Ballantyne, Neil, Dunnachie (McCorry), Muir, Irvine, McGuire (Sullivan), Ross (MacLeod), Kilmartin, Donaghy (Bennett). (Sub not used - Thomson.)
Man of the match - (chosen by Colin McNab) Thomas Kilmartin.