Rutherglen Glencairn Football Club

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Darvel Juniors 1 Rutherglen Glencairn 2

Saturday 17th March 2018 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One

(Report by Peter Ferguson)

Darvel Juniors 2

Gary Smith was in good form on his comeback from injury.

Glencairn moved up into the promotion play-off places as the team showed some real character to come from behind and win in dreadful overhead conditions away at Darvel Juniors. On a bitingly cold afternoon with a constant strong easterly wind blowing one way down the pitch, interspersed by snow showers, the attitude and battling qualities of the players on the pitch warmed the hearts of the loyal band of black and white supporters who made the journey into the East Ayrshire countryside.

There were two changes to the starting line-up from the last competitive match three weeks ago. Jack Baker returned in goals after his illness, and top goal scorer Gary Smith returned after injury, replacing Allan Colquhoun and Liam Gormley respectively.

Darvel were first to go close as Jordan Ryan got his head on the end of Greg Vernon's cross in the 4th minute, but his looping header dropped onto the roof of the net. The Glens' first chance arrived in the 7th minute as strikers Smith and Jay McKay linked well, with McKay's low shot being blocked by the feet of home goalkeeper David Markey, and Jordan Leyden fired over as he tried to latch onto the rebound.

Leyden and Smith linked well in the 13th minute to force a corner kick, and McKay's cross from the left flashed across goal and wide of the far post.

The opening goal arrived in the 18th minute as Darvel edged in front. The referee awarded a foul wide on the right despite his assistant contradicting him and flagging for a throw to Glencairn. The resulting cross by Sean Fitzharris picked out Greg Vernon in the centre who had got away from his marker, and he volleyed into the net off the inside of the far post.

It didn't take long for The Glens to get back on level terms, however, as they were awarded a penalty kick only a minute later. A cross to the back post picked out Stewart Hall who forced a shot towards goal. The ball was blocked but broke towards Smith who at first appeared to have fired over the bar from right in front of goal, but the referee whistled for a spot kick, ruling that Smith had been fouled as he tried to force the ball over the goal line.

Darvel defender Robert Boyd was shown a yellow card for his protests at the award, but the delay didn't put off Gary Smith as he confidently fired past Markey to make it 1-1.

Gary Smith

Baker made a good save with his foot to deny Fitzharris in the 23rd minute, not knowing that the Darvel man had been flagged for offside. Two minutes later at the other end Craig Palmer tried to take advantage of the wind at Glencairn's back as he fired in a shot from 35 yards out which slipped narrowly wide of goal.

McKay had a great chance to score as he pounced on a lucky beak of the ball to race through on goal in the 27th minute, but Markey raced from his line to make an excellent block for a corner. Tony Fraser's curling delivery from the corner picked out free head of Leyden whose effort from six yards smacked off the crossbar.

The home support were shouting for a penalty for handball in the 31st minute as the wind appeared to change the ball's direction towards Del McNab, but the referee wasn't interested this time. Smith and McKay were troubling the Darvel back line, and the two combined well again in the 38th minute as a swift breakaway ended with Smith firing an angled shot over the crossbar.

Rhys Donaldson became the first Glencairn player to see yellow as he hauled down Ryan on the edge of the penalty area, but Fitzharris' free kick attempt was blocked by the defensive wall.

Half time : 1-1

Darvel Juniors 1 Darvel Juniors 3

Gary Smith and Del McNab in first half action.

Both sides stuck with their starting line-ups for the start of the second half, but the question was now about how the teams would cope with the conditions as they swapped sides.

If the home fans were still feeling aggrieved about the awarding of Glencairn's penalty, they were left to thank the officials in the 49th minute as a second Glens goal was wrongly ruled out for offside. Fraser's free kick picked out the well-timed run of McNab who appeared to run past defenders on his way before stabbing the ball past Markey, but the assistant referee's flag frustrated everyone in black and white.

Glencairn were trying to play their normal passing game on the floor, but the strong gusty wind made that next to impossible and it turned into a case of "roll up the sleeves" instead. Some slack passing at the back invited Darvel into a threatening position in the 54th minute, but the corner from the left flashed across goal with no takers.

Ryan was flagged for offside as he headed for goal in the 57th minute, his effort being cleared off the line in any case, and a minute later Fitzharris pulled a half-hit volley wide of goal. Smith threatened at the other end on the hour mark with some good footwork which forced a corner, and McKay's cross from the left picked out McNab whose hooked volley flew over the crossbar.

A goal for Darvel seemed a certainty as the Glencairn defence misjudged a wind-assisted goal kick, leaving Ryan with only Baker to beat. He lobbed the ball over Baker, but the wind caught the ball in flight and lifted it onto the top of the crossbar and over to the relief of the static defensive trio.

Darvel were on top at this stage as the wind freshened at their backs, and Callum Walsh should have done better than head wide of goal as he got on the end of David Waite's free kick. Baker produced a terrific block to deny Henderson as another long wind-assisted ball caught out the defence. Moments later Henderson headed into the net but his delight was cut short by the assistant referee's offside flag. The pressure from the home side continued as Vernon headed straight at Baker in the 68th minute.

The first substitution of the match was an enforced one as Andy Neil replaced Palmer who had taken a knock on his foot moments earlier, and a few minutes later it was a debut for new man Sean McCall who replaced Hall in the right wing back role. Baker continued to impress as he palmed Walsh's goal-bound header round the post for a corner.

Glencairn literally "weathered" the Darvel storm, however, and play swung to the other end and Glencairn went very close in the 79th minute. Smith's fine hold-up play ended with a pass to McNab who drilled in a shot which almost took a coat of paint off the outside of the far post.

The decisive moment of the game arrived in the 82nd minute as Glencairn were awarded their second penalty kick. McNab released McKay on the left flank and, as the ball was rolled into the path of Leyden, the midfielder was caught late in the act of shooting, and the referee whistled for a spot kick again. Once again there was a delay before the kick was taken due to treatment for Leyden, but it didn't put Gary Smith off as he sent Markey the wrong way to put The Glens 2-1 ahead. It was Smith's 14th goal of the season so far in only 11 starting appearances.

Darvel immediately made a change with Jai Holland replacing Stewart Davidson. Glencairn did well to defend their lead and run down time as the clock ticked towards full time. Both teams made changes in the 89th minute with Jamie Hamilton replacing Smith for Glencairn, and Roddy Paterson coming on for Ian McCreadie for the home side.

Holland almost grabbed an equaliser for Darvel in the 91st minute as he got on the end of a cross to the back post in a crowd of players, but he could only force the ball wide of goal. The referee added on three minutes of added time, but there seemed little further danger of Darvel getting an equaliser and The Glens held out for a crucial three points.

Darvel Juniors :- Markey, Findlay, Waite, McCreadie (Paterson), Walsh, Boyd, Ryan, Henderson, Vernon, Fitzharris, Davidson (Holland). (Subs not used - McManus, Marshall, Biggar.)

Rutherglen Glencairn :- Baker, Kerr, Palmer (Neil), Donaldson, Fraser, McGuire, Hall (McCall), Leyden, Smith (Hamilton), McNab, McKay. (Subs not used - Gormley, McArdle.)

Man of the match - (chosen by Eddie Smith) Ryan Kerr.

Ryan Kerr

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