Rutherglen Glencairn Football Club

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Rutherglen Glencairn 1 Hurlford United 3

Saturday 18th July 2015 - Pre-season friendly match

(Report by Peter Ferguson)

Hurlford United 1

Mark Tait threatens for Glencairn in the first half.

Glencairn got their pre-season match schedule underway with a tough challenge against last season's Super Premier League runners-up and 2014 Scottish Junior Cup winners Hurlford United. The match was played on the huge pitch at the indoor arena at Toryglen Regional Football Centre.

Nine of The Glens' ten summer signings were on display throughout the ninety minutes, as 19 players were used in total, with three trialists also used in place of the three signed players who were unavailable for the match. Glencairn's fans were also delighted to see the return to action of club captain Brian Eadie after 15 months out with a serious ankle injury sustained in a match towards the end of the season before last.

United were understandably favourites for the match, and they almost took an early lead when Martyn Brown's diagonal pass picked out Gus Cochrane who fired over the bar from 18 yards in the 2nd minute.

Glencairn's first sniff of goal came in the 4th minute when Hurlford failed to effectively clear from a corner, and Paul Doyle's cross from the right fell into the path of Mark Tait who sliced his volley inches wide of the post.

The fine details of the rules of playing indoors were in question in the stand when Graeme Brown's clearance rebounded from the rafters and behind for a corner to Hurlford, with many in the crowd believing a drop ball should have been the ruling. However, from the resulting corner, Dean Muir cleared off the line from Ross Robertson's header.

Hurlford took the lead in the 14th minute when a cross from the left rebounded off Robertson into the path of George Thomson, who placed his shot past JC Hutchison from 10 yards.

Glencairn had a big chance to equalise in the 17th minute. Tony Fraser's pass almost set up Tait for a shot, but United no.1 Alistair Brown raced from his line to clear. The ball broke to Sean McGuire who dribbled round Brown, but then lobbed his shot over the covering defender and also over the crossbar.

United made The Glens pay for that miss only a minute later when they took advantage of a poor pass to break down the left, Paul Byrne's cross breaking kindly into the path of striker Ross Robertson who applied the finish to make it 2-0.

It had been an understandably disjointed start to the match for The Glens with so many new players and up against high quality opposition, and it almost got worse when Paul McKenzie fired in a shot in the 27th minute which flashed a couple of yards wide of the target.

From the half hour mark, however, Glencairn began to find some rhythm and confidence, and they began to threaten the Hurlford rearguard. Tait appeared to be the main threat in black and white and, when he was picked out for a pass by Muir in the 35th minute, he chested the ball down and turned to fire a shot wide of the far post.

A minute later a spell of sustained possession for The Glens ended with Muir firing a low shot which Brown saved comfortably on his goal line. Robertson went close for Hurlford again in the 40th minute as he bustled his way past three challenges before being denied by a combination of an excellent block by Hutchison and then Andy Neil clearing the loose ball off the goal line.

The 41st minute brought applause from the healthy crowd in the stand as Glencairn produced their best move of the game so far. Jonny Boal started the move with a pass down the left channel to Chris Zok. The striker squared the ball to his partner Tait, who took a good touch before laying the ball into the path of Mark Batchelor whose fizzing shot was tipped over the bar at full stretch by Brown.

Half time : 0-2

Glencairn made five outfield changes at the interval, including the introduction of four new signings and one trialist defender.

Andy Neil made an excellent block in the 52nd minute to deny Robertson what looked a likely goal and, from the resulting corner, McKenzie drilled a shot a yard over the crossbar from just outside the penalty area. There was a strong shout for a penalty kick for Hurlford in the 54th minute when Robertson went down under a challenge by Neil, but the referee wasn't interested.

The game was opening up now and, at the other end a minute later, Paddy Cullen pounced on a defensive error to set up Batchelor for a near post shot which was deflected narrowly wide of the post.

The Glens were right back in the game in the 55th minute with a delightful team goal involving three of the new signings. Adam Nisanci's precise pass picked out the overlapping run of Adam Shaw, and his cross picked out the free head of Mark Tait on the six yard line, the striker giving Brown no chance as he headed into the net for a debut goal.

Mark Tait Mark Tait

JC Hutchison kept his team in contention just before the hour mark as he dived to his left to beat away a shot by Thomson after the striker had skipped away from a couple of soft tackles. Mark McCarry tried an audacious effort at the other a minute later as he cut in from his left midfield position and fired an angled shot which rose half a yard over the crossbar.

Glencairn were now sensing the chance of getting a draw out of a game which had seemed to be overpowering them in the opening half hour, and Cullen set up Tait for a lobbed effort in the 71st minute which flew well over the crossbar.

The final three Glencairn substitutes were introduced with 18 minutes remaining, two more trialists and the return of Brian Eadie who slotted into central defence with Andy Neil moving to left back.

Hurlford went close again in the 74th minute when a lovely reverse pass by Stuart Davidson set up Byrne for a shot which flew across goal and wide of the far post.

The rigours of pre-season training and the enormous indoor pitch at Toryglen looked to be taking its toll on the players as the match moved into the closing stages as the pace dropped and the legs tired. Nisanci's cross from the right picked out the head of Batchelor who tried to nod in an equaliser, but a defensive challenge was enough to make the midfielder glance his effort wide of goal from eight yards out.

Tenacious play by Hurlford's impressive midfielder McKenzie ended with a shot into the side netting in the 85th minute, and two minutes later at the other end McCarry's cross from the left was headed wide at full stretch by Cullen.

The referee ended any hopes of a Glencairn equaliser when he pointed to the penalty spot for Hurlford in the 90th minute for a clearly accidental handball, Shaw sliding along the ground and a shot being drilled towards his arm from close range. After the protests, Ross Robertson sent the trialist substitute goalkeeper the wrong way to make it 3-1, and the referee blew for full time almost immediately after the restart.

Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison (Mastroszek), Brown (Shaw), Boal (Eadie), Doyle (Smith), Neil, Muir, Batchelor, McGuire (Nisanci), Zok (Cullen), Tait (Finnigan), Fraser (McCarry).

Hurlford United :- Alistair Brown, Martyn Brown, Byrne, McKillen, Mitchell, Cochrane, Borris, McKenzie, Ross Robertson, Thomson, Chisholm. (Subs - Blair, Chris Robertson, Davidson, Dempster, Murchie.)

Man of the match - (chosen by Stuart Brown) Mark Tait.

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