Rutherglen Glencairn Football Club

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Largs Thistle 2 Rutherglen Glencairn 0

Saturday 16th December 2017 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One

(Report by Peter Ferguson)

Largs Thistle 2

Rhys Donaldson was Glencairn's best player in an all-round disappointing display.

Glencairn ended their competitive fixtures for 2017 with one of their poorest performances of the year as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat away to Largs Thistle. A win would have seen The Glens move up into the top half of the table and very much in touch with the promotion issue, but the defeat means they stay in 10th place and have plenty of work to do in the New Year.

There were two changes to the starting line-up after the 6-0 Scottish Junior Cup win over Stonehaven in the last game. Craig Palmer was missing through suspension, so there was a first start for recent signing Ryan Kerr on the right side of the back three, with Craig McGregor switching to the left into Palmer's position. The other change saw Del McNab return on the right of midfield with Connor Brannigan dropping to the substitutes' bench. Top scorers Gary Smith and Jay McKay were also on the bench as they both battle to regain full match fitness.

The Glens almost made a lightning start to the game as Jamie Hamilton's pass inside the opening 20 seconds set up a chance for Alessandro Savarese, but Thistle goalkeeper Sean Graham raced out to block right on the edge of the penalty area, fumbling the ball slightly but recovering to smother the ball.

If the travelling support were hoping that would be an indicator of what was to come, they were about to be hugely disappointed, as that was pretty much as good as it got for Glencairn for the rest of the first half. The football on offer from both teams lacked any real quality, with Largs the better of two disappointing sides.

Thistle striker Ryan McKie let himself down with a pathetic attempt to win a penalty in the 5th minute, throwing himself to the ground under no challenge whatsoever as he cut into the right side of the penalty area. The referee wasn't conned, but the whistler also failed to do his job properly by not giving what should have been a very obvious yellow card.

McKie wasn't far away from most of Largs' attacking threat in the early stages, and he sliced a shot wide from 20 yards in the 10th minute after a clever turn away from his marker. A nice passing move from defence to attack by Thistle in the 16th minute ended with McKie firing wide of goal once again.

The home side took the lead in the 19th minute with a stroke of good fortune. A corner from the right wasn't effectively cleared, and the ball was fed back into the crowded penalty area. The ball seemed to get stuck among the pack of legs trying to kick it, and it rebounded from the leg of Ryan McKie into the corner of the net past helpless Glencairn no.1 Jack Baker.

Largs Thistle 3

Craig McGregor challenges for possession with home striker Ryan McKie.

The scrappy nature of the goal summed up the the game so far for both sides, and it was a further 15 minutes before anything else of note happened. This time it was the turn of Largs midfielder Iain Fisher to tumble inside the penalty area, prompting half of the Largs team to scream at the referee for a penalty kick, but once again it looked like the correct decision by the referee to wave away the appeals.

Scott Adam's sliced cross in the 40th minute had Baker watching the ball carefully before tipping it over the crossbar at the back post. A minute before the interval McGregor became the first player into the referee's notebook for one foul too many in what was a generally disappointing 45 minutes of football, with Glencairn yet to have a serious attempt on goal.

Half time : 1-0

Largs Thistle 4

The scenery was far superior viewing than the first half action on the pitch.

There were no personnel changes at the interval, but Glencairn were forced into a reshuffle only four minutes into the second half when they were reduced to 10 men. Craig McGregor's run across the halfway line saw him slightly lose control of the ball, and his attempt to recover the situation saw him dive into a challenge and catch Laurie McMaster. The referee produced a second yellow card for McGregor, but initially seemed unaware that it was his second, and had to be prompted by the Largs players into producing the red card which followed. Hamilton was also shown yellow for dissent after the incident.

Glencairn's response was to bring Connor Brannigan on into an unfamiliar defensive role, replacing Savarese, with Kerr moving to the left of what was now a very young and inexperienced defence, although they had an in-form Rhys Donaldson controlling and sweeping behind them. Graham Muir became the first Thistle player to see yellow on the hour mark.

Having a man less than their opponents seemed to inspire Glencairn for a period and they started to create chances. Jordan Leyden set up Hamilton for a shot which was deflected narrowly wide of the far post, Glencairn's first shot on goal in the match in the 63rd minute.

The Glens' second substitution followed with a straight swap up front, Gary Smith replacing the unusually quiet Gormley. Thistle went close to doubling their lead when striker Scott Adam's header was touched round the post for another corner by Baker. The next cross flashed across the face of goal with nobody to apply the finishing touch.

It was better stuff from Glencairn now, though, and Smith's vision picked out Leyden in space who fired a rather rushed shot wide of the target from 20 yards. Thistle made their first change as Alex McWaters replaced McMaster wide on the left. The Glens were having their best spell of the game now, and Graham did well to deny Hamilton after the playmaker had skipped past the last defender and squeezed his shot away on the stretch.

The best chance of an equaliser came a minute later as Smith won possession on the left flank and raced in on the angle of the penalty area (pictured below), but Smith's on-target shot aimed for the far corner was palmed away well by Graham.

Largs Thistle 1

Both sides made a change in the 76th minute and Glencairn were clearly going for it, as Jay McKay came off the bench to join Smith up front, with Ryan McArdle the man withdrawn. Kevin Struthers was the man to come on for Largs, replacing the tiring McKie.

The momentum which Glencairn had built up was looking likely to produce an equaliser, with Baker having very little to do at the other end despite Largs having an extra man, but the whole flow of the match changed once again in the 82nd minute. Jordan Leyden was shown yellow for a foul 25 yards from goal and, only a couple of seconds later, was shown a second yellow card for something he said to the referee, and he too had to make the early walk to the changing rooms, leaving his team mates with only nine men.

Any doubts about the destiny of the three points were blown away in the 88th minute when Largs scored a second goal to ease the nerves of the home support, Scott Adam cleverly lobbing Baker from a very tight angle.

Largs Thistle :- Graham, Orr, McVey, Little, Jamieson, Muir, Fisher, Fleming, Adam, McKie (Struthers), McMaster (McWaters). (Subs not used - Burden, Ashe, Trialist (gk).)

Rutherglen Glencairn :- Baker, Kerr, McGregor, Donaldson, Fraser, Leyden, McNab, Hamilton, Gormley (Smith), Savarese (Brannigan), McArdle (McKay). (Subs not used - McGuire, Hall.)

Man of the match - (chosen by Stuart Brown) Rhys Donaldson.

Rhys Donaldson

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