Saturday 23rd September 2017 - Scottish Junior Cup Round One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
New signing Jordan Leyden goes close with a first half shot.
The Glens built on the momentum of their recent back-to-back league wins as they eased to three wins in a row with this comfortable Scottish Junior Cup Round One victory over East Region Premier League side Kirriemuir Thistle. It was the first time the teams had played each other in Rutherglen, with the only previous meeting of the sides being at Kirriemuir in the 4th round of this competition in season 1979-80.
Willie Harvey made two changes to the starting line-up after last week's last-gasp win at Larkhall Thistle. KP McAllister was brought in as goalkeeper with Jack Baker swapping to the substitutes' bench, while Stewart Hall replaced the holidaying Del McNab on the right of midfield. Club captain Tony Fraser earned a place on the bench on his return after injury, along with recent new signing Connor Brannigan.
Glencairn started the match positively and went on the front foot very early, Jamie Hamilton curling a free kick over the bar in the opening minute (pictured below). There was a warning for The Glens in the second minute, however, as Kirrie went close to opening the scoring. Jonny Snowdon's cross from the left picked out the head of Greg Fairweather at the back post and he nodded narrowly past the near post.
The all-action start continued as Sean McGuire's pass set up Liam Gormley for an early shot, but his effort was deflected wide for a corner kick. Gormley's predatory instinct was clear in the 10th minute as he almost pounced on what looked like a harmless ball in behind the defence, Thistle goalkeeper Sean Diamond racing out to kick the ball against the striker with the ball rebounding well wide of goal.
The best chance of the game so far arrived in the 12th minute and it was Kirrie who went close. Allan Cruickshank linked with Gary Archibald on the right edge of the penalty area, and his square pass set up Connor MacLeod who fired wide of goal from 12 yards when he should have at least hit the target.
Glencairn started to raise the tempo of their game, and they almost broke the deadlock in the 17th minute as Ryan McArdle's corner from the right came right through to Jordan Leyden at the back post. Leyden chested the ball down and then drilled a shot (pictured at top) to the near post which was brilliantly held down low on the goal line by Diamond.
Gormley set up McGuire for a shot which was deflected wide of goal in the 25th minute, before Leyden was the first player to be shown a yellow card for a late sliding tackle on Fairweather. McAllister hadn't had much to do in the opening half hour, but he showed his awareness as he raced out to block Adam Braid with his legs as the striker ran on to an incisive through pass.
As the first half moved into its final ten minutes there was a noticeable increase in the intensity of Glencairn's play, and you could sense that a breakthrough could be close. Jay McKay and Hamilton linked cleverly on the edge of the penalty area, with McKay's shot bouncing off the chest of Diamond before the 'keeper grabbed the loose ball to deny any rebound chance.
The Glens got the breakthrough their play deserved in the 39th minute, and it was the striker pairing who made the difference. A ball up the left channel saw McKay skip away from his marker John Farquharson. McKay made a beeline for the penalty area and shaped to shoot, cleverly disguising his intention to roll the ball in front of Liam Gormley who fired into the net at the far post for his 5th goal in 3 games since joining the club.
Two minutes later it was almost a carbon copy as McKay once again skipped away from his marker on the left edge of the penalty area, but this time his attempted pass to Gormley was blocked out for a corner kick. The front two were now causing lots of problems, and Gormley linked once again with McKay just before the half time whistle with McKay just being crowded out before getting his shot away.
Half time : 1-0
Ryan McArdle bursts past his marker to set up a first half Glencairn attack.
Kirrie made a change at half time with 18-year-old Ryan Kerrigan coming on to make his debut for the club, replacing Fairweather. The visitors emerged from the dressing rooms with a renewed energy and started the second half in a threatening manner, however it was without forcing McAllister into making a save of any note.
The Glens went close again in the 50th minute as Stewart Hall's cross from the right picked out the head of McKay at the back post, and the ball dipped narrowly wide of the far post. Kerrigan's first contribution of note to the game was to earn a rather harsh yellow card for an accidental foul on McArdle, setting up a free kick on the edge of the penalty area which McKay drove into the defensive wall.
You felt that Glencairn still had several gears to go up, and they gave themselves a comfortable lead in the 52nd minute as the second goal arrived. Gormley found space on the right edge of the penalty area, and his square ball picked out Stewart Hall who drove the ball under Diamond to make it 2-0.
Three minutes later it was effectively "game over" for the visitors as they were reduced to ten men. Gormley latched onto a ball in behind the defence and, as he shaped to shoot, he was deliberately fouled from behind by John Farquharson, earning the Kirrie man a straight red card.
It was now really a matter of how many Glencairn would score, and the answer would have been quite a few more had the composure in front of goal been slightly better. McArdle blazed high and wide from 20 yards after being set up by Hall's cross just after the hour mark, before Rori Bews was the next man into the referee's book for trying to contain Hamilton by attempting to pull the shirt off his back.
McGuire was next to get his finishing all wrong after Diamond was caught out of goal, the midfielder pulling his normal trademark chipped finish wide of goal from 20 yards. Brannigan was brought off the bench to make his Glens debut in the 64th minute, replacing the hard working Hall on the right flank. Just like Kirrie's first sub, though, Brannigan's first involvement was to earn a yellow card for a foul on MacLeod. Thistle's second change saw Sean McVicar replace Stuart McKenna before the free kick was taken, Snowdon curling the ball well over the crossbar.
Alessandro Savarese replaced the injured McArdle with McKay moving to the wide left role with Savarese joining Gormley up front. The Glens killed off any lingering hopes of a Thistle comeback as they made it 3-0 in the 72nd minute. Hamilton ran directly at the heart of the defence before slipping his pass wide to McKay, who returned the pass to Jamie Hamilton who had made space to fire a low shot under two sliding defenders and into the corner of the net.
Fraser was brought off the bench to replace Leyden for the final quarter of an hour. Kirrie tried bravely to grab a goal for their travelling fans to cheer, but Kerrigan's dangerous cross from the right was well cut out by a sliding clearance by Craig McGregor. Glencairn's defence looked determined to earn their first clean sheet of the season, marshalled by an impressive performance by sweeper Rhys Donaldson.
A swift breakaway in the 74th minute saw Glencairn pouring players forward, and Savarese fizzed a shot narrowly wide of goal when perhaps he should have rolled the ball to his left for what would have been a almost certain goal for Gormley. The fourth goal arrived in the 81st minute, though, as Alessandro Savarese's first effort was blocked by Diamond, only for him to stab the rebound past the keeper and into the net off the inside of the post.
The Glens weren't content with four, and they pushed forward again looking to hit five goals for the third week in a row. They thought they had done it in the 84th minute when Brannigan's cross from the right was dummied by Gormley and Savarese fired into the net at the back post, but the assistant referee disallowed the goal for a highly debatable offside decision.
Thistle substitute McVicar broke clear in the 88th minute, but the pace of defender Andy Neil got over to make a fine interception to ensure Glencairn's back door remained shut for the first time this season. There was still time for one more chance for The Glens as Fraser released Savarese on the left edge of the penalty area and he fired across Diamond, the ball slipping narrowly wide of the far post.
Willie Harvey was pleased to see his side into the second round draw, and he commented, "We were very comfortable today, I don't think we got out of second gear all afternoon. It's particularly pleasing to keep a clean sheet, that'll give the defence a boost. We look forward to the 2nd round draw now, but our attentions turn back to the league and Cumbernauld United here next week."
Rutherglen Glencairn :- McAllister, McGregor, Neil, Donaldson, Leyden (Fraser), McGuire, Hall (Brannigan), Hamilton, Gormley, McArdle (Savarese), McKay. (Sub not used - Baker (gk).)
Kirriemuir Thistle :- Diamond, McKenna (McVicar), Snowdon, Bews, Lannen, Farquharson, Fairweather (Kerrigan), Archibald, Cruickshank, Braid, MacLeod. (Sub not used - Kettles.)
Man of the match - (chosen by Brian Eadie) Rhys Donaldson.