Rutherglen Glencairn Football Club

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Kilwinning Rangers 0 Rutherglen Glencairn 1

Saturday 21st May 2016 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One

(Report by Peter Ferguson)

Kilwinning Rangers 1

Alan Muir goes close with a first half free kick.

Glencairn will be playing Super League football next season for the eighth consecutive season after a terrific win away to Scottish Junior Cup semi finalists and promotion chasing Kilwinning Rangers. It was a display full of desire and commitment, and a real team performance.

The Glens were missing defender Graeme Brown after his midweek injury and midfielders Del McNab (holiday) and Colin Kemley (work), so young Danny Salah was selected in the right midfield position and David Dunnachie was asked to fill the right back berth. Ryan Docherty moved back into central defence, creating a space for the return after injury and suspension of influential midfielder Alan Muir.

The home side suffered a blow in the warm-up with defender Martyn Campbell pulling up with an injury, so he was replaced by Chris McGowan, while Buffs manager Chris Strain named himself as a substitute in a match which was regarded by the home support as a "must win".

There was almost an early goal for Glencairn when, in the 3rd minute, Tony Fraser's corner found its way through to Dunnachie at the back post (pictured below), but he headed the ball down into the ground and it bounced over the crossbar from only six yards out.

Kilwinning Rangers 3

David Dunnachie throws his head at the ball but narrowly misses the target.

Kilwinning responded with a corner of their own which Glens no.1 JC Hutchison punched clear from under his crossbar. A few minutes later another corner saw Hutchison try to punch but miss the ball, but Docherty was on hand to clear the danger to the relief of the Glens support.

Glencairn were giving as good as they were getting in a very even opening to the match, and Muir's curling free kick from 25 yards (pictured at top) dipped inches over the crossbar onto the roof of the net, with home goalkeeper Adam Strain watching it carefully.

The Glens stunned the noisy home support in the 13th minute as they took the lead with a well worked goal. The ball was fed through to Mark Batchelor inside the penalty area, and he cut the ball across the face of goal where Danny Salah was waiting at the back post to fire the ball past Strain. It was the under 21 midfielder's first ever goal for the first team.

Danny Salah Danny Salah

Glencairn now had something to hold onto, and their game plan was working perfectly. The defence were standing strong with Andy Neil and Docherty particularly prominent, and the pace of Mark Duffy, Batchelor and Salah was troubling the Buffs defence on the break when fed by the industry in midfield of Sean McGuire, Muir and Fraser.

Superb persistent play by Brian Eadie in the 31st minute saw him win possession and set up a chance for Duffy to get in behind the defence, but he tried to set up Batchelor instead of shooting himself and cut the ball back behind his team mate.

The Buffs weren't really troubling the Glencairn defence to any great extent, relying on many long balls to the strikers who were playing on the shoulders of the defence, but the pace of Neil and the calmness of Docherty meant that Hutchison wasn't called on to make a save of note. A corner from the right by Liam McGuiness was only partially cleared to the edge of the penalty area where Thomas Maitland volleyed wildly out of the stadium.

Duffy's head flick in the 37th minute (pictured below) set up a chance for Batchelor to shoot across goal with the outside of his foot, the ball slipping inches wide of the far post.

As half time approached The Buffs upped their efforts to get back on terms, McGuiness' free kick being headed onto the roof of the net by Isaac Kerr. Docherty made an important block in front of goal in the 43rd minute to keep his side in front at the interval.

Half time : 0-1

Kilwinning Rangers 2

Mark Duffy links with Mark Batchelor in another first half Glencairn attack.

Glencairn started the second half positively again, a cross being tipped off the head of Batchelor and then Duffy's rebound attempt being blocked in front of goal. Batchelor's strength set up a chance for Salah to roll the ball into the path of McGuire, but the midfielder fired the ball well over the crossbar from 20 yards.

As dark clouds enveloped the ground just after the start of the second half and the wind picking up at the backs of the home team, The Glens found themselves pinned back for a period as the hour mark approached. Once again, though, the red wall of Glencairn players stood strong and Hutchison wasn't called on to make a save other than to punch clear from a couple of crosses.

Jamie Anderson replaced McGowan in Kilwinning's first substitution. The pressure from the home side continued, and Neil was perhaps a little fortunate to escape with only a yellow card when he tripped Ross Stewart on the edge of the penalty when for once Buffs had found a way in behind the defence.

The threat of Glencairn on the breakaway was still very potent, however, and the mid point of the second half saw a golden chance to double the lead. Batchelor broke free on the left and he rolled the ball across to Duffy who only had Strain to beat, but the home goalkeeper got his heel to the shot and deflected it wide of the target by the width of a coat of paint. The resulting corner was met by the head of Docherty, but once again Strain kept his side in the match with an excellent save on his goal line.

The Buffs' second change saw Kyle Cumming replace Dean Agnew, and the home side once again refreshed their efforts to equalise. A throw in from the left in the 70th minute saw Neil miss his attempted clearance, but Dunnachie was aware enough to cover and hooked the ball up the park.

Another breakaway saw Salah set up Batchelor who fired over the crossbar, before play swung back to the other end and Kilwinning were awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Ben Lewis took the effort and curled his shot harmlessly over the crossbar, Hutchison once again not tested.

Despite the territory and possession advantage that the home side were enjoying, it was home goalkeeper Strain who was working the hardest of the two stoppers. Fraser's corner was met by the head of Docherty, and the ball bounced down and up towards goal, Strain tipping the ball onto the crossbar and over for another corner. Docherty won the ball in the air again from the next cross, but nodded a yard wide of goal. Chances kept coming for Glencairn, and Batchelor's diagonal pass picked out the run of Salah whose shot was deflected past Strain and narrowly wide of goal.

As the match moved into its closing stages, Glencairn were understandably camped in their own half as the Buffs got desperate for a goal to re-ignite their promotion challenge. Bryan Boylan's shot on the turn was well blocked by Docherty, and then Stewart fired across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

Glencairn still had the option of three substitutions to come as the match moved into the final four minutes, and Duffy was given a warm ovation from the travelling support as he was replaced up front by Paddy Cullen. Kilwinning manager Chris Strain also played his final card as he brought himself off the bench to replace Barry Fleeting.

Cumming almost turned the key for The Buffs in the 89th minute as he skipped past Brian Eadie inside the penalty area, but his cross flashed across the face of goal with nobody to convert in the middle.

It seemed that the home side's chances had gone as manager Chris Strain lost his discipline and was red carded for an off-the-ball incident with Batchelor which was clearly seen by the assistant referee. There was still time for more pressure from Kilwinning, however, as the referee added on a full six minutes of injury time. But the Glencairn defence were not going to be beaten, and the final whistle was greeted with delight by the Glencairn players, support and management as the club's Super League status was confirmed for yet another season.

Kilwinning Rangers 4

Glencairn's management team celebrate at the final whistle.

Glens manager Willie Harvey commented after the game, "That was a real team performance, every single player out there today put in a real shift for the club and they should be proud of their display. This is not an easy venue, but they were strong and together for the full match and they got what they deserved at the end of it."

Kilwinning Rangers :- Adam Strain, Coleman, Fleeting (Chris Strain), Kerr, McGowan (Anderson), Maitland, Agnew (Cumming), McGuiness, Stewart, Lewis, Boylan. (Sub not used - Burns.)

Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison, Dunnachie, Eadie, Neil, Docherty, Alan Muir, Salah, Batchelor, Duffy (Cullen), McGuire, Fraser. (Subs not used - McCorry, Chrystal, Brown, Thomson (gk).)

Man of the match - (chosen by Tom Reynolds) Andy Neil.

Andy Neil Andy Neil

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