Monday 14th December 2015 - Friendly match
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Sean McGuire battles for first half possession with Meadow striker Paul Maxwell.
The Glens got back on the playing pitch for this friendly match at Glasgow Green after over three weeks without any form of action, as they took on Super Premier League opposition. Irvine Meadow, who are managed by former Glencairn assistant manager Stevie Rankin and former Glens player Murdie McKinnon, provided familiar opposition for Glencairn, as this was the third time the clubs had met in a friendly match in 2015.
It was very clear in the early stages as to which side was the sharper, with Meadow having played three matches in the time that Glencairn have been out of action, and that superior sharpness was obvious in the opening quarter of the match as Meadow established a firm lead.
The first chance came in the 4th minute as Graham Girvan's cross from the right was headed narrowly wide by Gary McCann, and a couple of minutes later Girvan crossed again from the right, but this time Glens no.1 JC Hutchison got a good block on the cross down low.
The opening goal wasn't far away, though, and it arrived in the 7th minute in controversial fashion. Trialist striker Richie Barr appeared to be yards offside as he ran onto a pass, but the referee didn't whistle and Barr lobbed the ball calmly over Hutchison to make it 1-0 to Meadow.
Glencairn were struggling to get any form of possession in the opposition half as Meadow pressed very high up the park, but they did manage to work their way to the edge of the penalty area in the 16th minute and earned a free kick, Sean McGuire pulling a save out of goalkeeper Dan Tobin with a low driven shot from 20 yards.
The lead was doubled in the 18th minute as Liam Finnigan blocked an attempted clearance by Andy Neil, and Finnigan ran through himself to drill the ball under Hutchison for 2-0. Barr went close again a minute later pulled his shot across goal and wide of the far post, as Meadow continued to pin Glencairn deep into their own half.
If the opening goal had been controversial, the referee angered the Glencairn contingent further by not giving a clear foul in the build-up to Meadow going 3-0 ahead in the 23rd minute. Glens striker Paddy Cullen took a blow to the side of his head from a high boot just inside the Meadow half, but play was waved on and resulted in Shaun Fraser firing into the net after Paul Doyle had cleared off the line from Barr.
The Glens fans were understandably watching the match through the gaps between their fingers at this point, however there was a hint of the team settling down when some neat interplay in the 25th minute ended with a drilled shot by Denis McLaughlin from 25 yards which rose just a few inches over the crossbar.
Hutchison saved from Gary McCann before Paul Maxwell headed wide a few seconds later as Meadow tried to increase their lead, but it was Glencairn who pulled themselves back into the match in the 41st minute. Alan Muir's pass released Mark Batchelor on the right, and he squared across goal for Paddy Cullen to apply the finish from 12 yards to make it 3-1.
Cullen almost pulled another goal back just a minute later but was unfortunate to see his shot blocked by team mate McGuire, but The Glens were now beginning to play with a bit of confidence. McLaughlin went close with a header on the stroke of half time, stretching for a cross from the right but unable to direct the ball on target.
Half time : 1-3
The Glens made two changes at the interval, with goalkeeper Robert Kerr replacing Hutchison, and Adam Shaw replacing Graeme Brown. Shortly after the re-start there was another change, with defender David Dunnachie replacing midfielder Alan Muir.
Meadow started the second half on the front foot, and they increased their lead to 4-1 in the 52nd minute. Gary McCann was released on the left, and he squared across goal for Paul Maxwell who simply couldn't miss from a yard out in front of goal. Kerr saved well from Meadow substitute Ross McPherson a few minutes later as the pressure continued.
Glencairn didn't thrown in the towel, however, and pulled a goal back again just before the hour mark. Sean McGuire linked neatly with McLaughlin on the edge of the penalty area, before squeezing a shot under substitute goalkeeper Graeme Shepherd to make it 4-2.
This sparked a period of pressure from Glencairn as they tried to rescue the match. A loose kick out by Shepherd set up Cullen for a chance, but he chose to try to square the ball for McGuire instead of shooting himself and the chance was wasted.
A clumsy bit of play by Meadow defender Michael Keenan saw Cullen pounce and then be brought down as he ran through on goal, a red card offence in any other match, but the referee chose leniancy as this was a friendly. Cullen fired the set piece round the defensive wall but Shepherd saved on his goal line.
Both teams created chances as the match drew towards a close. McCann's cross from the left just missed the Meadow strikers in the middle, before Cullen sprung the offside trap at the other and cut the ball back to McGuire whose shot appeared to hit a defender's arm, but the referee wasn't interested.
The final word fell to Meadow, who made it 5-2 with the last kick of the ball. Shaw's misplaced pass ended at the feet of David Sinclair, and his drilled shot took a deflection on its way past Kerr into the far corner of the net.
The referee had clearly had enough and blew for full time with over two minutes left on the clock, but nobody was complaining and both managers seemed happy with what they had got out of the evening. Willie Harvey commented, "We started poorly and were feeling sorry for ourselves a wee bit after the first quarter, but once we got ourselves settled we gave as good as we got for the rest of the match. We haven't played for a few weeks and that showed at the start against a team who have been playing games, but it was a good exercise for us ahead of Saturday's league match which will hopefully go ahead."
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison (Kerr), Brown (Shaw), Neil, Doyle, Dean Muir, Alan Muir (Dunnachie), Batchelor (Salah), McGuire, McLaughlin, Cullen, Fraser.
Irvine Meadow :- Tobin, Girvan, Wilson, Keenan, Evans, Bolton, Finnigan, Fraser, Maxwell, Barr, Gary McCann. (Subs - Stuart McCann, McPherson, Sinclair, Murch, Halliday, Deas, Shepherd (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Peter Ferguson) Sean McGuire.