Saturday 29th July 2017 - Pre-season friendly match
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Gary Smith sets up Alessandro Savarese for Glencairn's early disallowed goal.
Glencairn rounded off their pre-season match schedule with another tough match against another top side from the West Region Super Premier League, as Hurlford United were the visitors to The Celsius Stadium for the first home match after the summer break.
With manager Willie Harvey on holiday, assistant manager Joe Pryce took the opportunity to give match time to no fewer than 19 players ahead of the start of The Glens' competitive matches next weekend. There was a first starting place for new midfielder signing Michael Hardie, and also first starts for defender Alex Grier and midfielder Craig Young after their promotion from the club's under 21 side.
The Glens were sharp out of the traps and took the game to Hurlford in the opening moments. A good passing move ended with Young slicing a shot wide of goal from 20 yards inside the opening minute. The positive start continued, and Glencairn thought they had taken the lead in the 5th minute, only to be denied by an offside flag. Jamie Hamilton's precise pass released Gary Smith on the left, and he cut into the penalty area (pictured at top) before sliding the ball into the path of Alessandro Savarese who fired into the net from close range, but the celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee.
Hurlford responded by going close for the first time as Ross Robertson fired a deflected shot wide of goal from the edge of the penalty area. The resulting corner wasn't effectively cleared, and Glencairn goalkeeper KP McAllister did well to get down low to smother Glen Mitchell's shot.
The match was an even contest at this stage, and there was some clever play down the right between Savarese and Hardie which was blocked out by the United defence. Play swung to the other end and Richie McKillen tried his luck from distance but McAllister saved comfortably. McAllister did well again in the 15th minute as he raced out to block Calum Watt who had latched onto a diagonal through ball.
A similar incident at the other end in the 21st minute saw Hurlford goalkeeper Ally Brown smother at the feet of Young after the midfielder's late run into the box had been picked out by Smith's clever pass. A run and drilled shot by Hardie two minutes later saw the ball flash narrowly wide of goal, with Brown concerned enough to dive full length to his left.
The Glens had been giving as good as they were getting up to this point, but the visitors took the lead in the 24th minute with a touch of good fortune. A lofted pass into the path of United striker James Marks ended with a shot which flew into the net off the leg of Grier as he tried to block, wrong-footing McAllister as the ball flashed into the net at the near post.
This seemed to lift the visitors and they started to take a control on the game. A corner from the left was headed clear by Andy Neil, only for Chris McKnight to drill the ball back towards goal and narrowly over the crossbar. A couple of minutes later saw McKnight's cross headed down by Ross Robertson into the path of Alan Jenkins whose shot on the stretch flew two yards wide.
The lead was doubled in the 31st minute as a free kick was lifted in from the left, and defender Glen Mitchell got in front of the defence to glance a precise header into the net.
Glencairn's early confidence had somewhat been punctured by the disallowed goal and then the loss of two goals, but Hamilton went close with a curling free kick in the 37th minute which took a slight deflection off the defensive wall and dropped half a yard wide of the post.
Hurlford threatened again as half time approached, with the lively Marks getting to the bye line before crossing. McAllister rose to try to claim the ball but was bundled over by Ross Robertson, with Rhys Donaldson making the clearance from in front of goal.
Half time : 0-2
Michael Hardie and Craig Young in action in the first half.
There were three changes for Glencairn at the interval. Anthony Dempsey replaced Andy Neil on the left side of defence, while Ryan McArdle came onto the left side of midfield in place of Del McNab. Jay McKay came on for Savarese up front to link up with Smith.
Lessons clearly hadn't been learned from the loss of the second goal, however, and Hurlford made it 3-0 in the 47th minute. A corner from the right saw Glen Mitchell once again get away from his marker and he placed his precise header into the far corner of the net.
The Smith and McKay combination up front didn't last long as Smith limped off with a slight knock only four minutes into the second half, and he was replaced by Fraser Team. More substitutions soon followed, as Craig McGregor replaced Grier and Njabulo Ndlovu came on for Young.
Ndlovu's first contribution to the game brought applause from the crowd as he drove forward with the ball before drilling a shot from 25 yards which flew just a couple of feet over the crossbar.
The changes continued as the management continued to work on the squad's overall fitness. Sean McGuire replaced Tony Fraser in central midfield, and Stewart Hall took up the right midfield role with Hardie withdrawn.
Hurlford went close again on the hour mark as Calum Watt saw McAllister slightly out of position and tried a curler, but he missed the target by a couple of yards. Moments later McGregor was short with a passback to McAllister and Marks nipped in to dribble round the 'keeper, but McGregor recovered to make an interception and clearance.
McAllister made another good block to deny Ross Robertson in the 65th minute after the striker got a fortunate break of the ball in behind the defence. The assistant referee who flagged for offside against Savarese early in the match wasn't so quick to raise his flag in the 71st minute when Dean Agnew appeared to be ahead of the defence, but fortunately the United substitute's shot rebounded from the post to prevent any further debate.
The Glens were still trying to break down the strong Hurlford rearguard, and persistent play on the left by Dempsey set up a chance for Hamilton to shoot in the 73rd minute, the firm low shot slipping inches wide of goal with Brown seemingly beaten had it been on target.
Hurlford's clear threat from set pieces continued as they made it 4-0 in the 77th minute. A corner from the right saw Ross Robertson peel off his marker and place his header into the net off the underside of the crossbar, a very similar goal to the 2nd and 3rd.
There was very little to talk about in terms of action in the closing ten minutes of the match, with the game well won by the visitors by this stage. Despite a total of 14 substitutes being used during the match, the referee sensibly blew for full time right on the second of the 90 minutes.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- McAllister, Grier (McGregor), Neil (Dempsey), Donaldson, Fraser (McGuire), Young (Ndlovu), Hardie (Hall), Hamilton, Smith (Team), Savarese (McKay), McNab (McArdle). (Sub not used - Hutchison (gk).)
Hurlford United :- Brown, McKnight, McKillen, Glen Mitchell, Chris Robertson, Jenkins, McKenzie, Danny Mitchell, Marks, Ross Robertson, Watt. (Subs - Molloy, Agnew, Lidington, Fisher, Hodge, Murchie (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Alex McArthur) Rhys Donaldson.