Saturday 27th February 2016 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Derek McNab keeps his eye on the ball in the first half.
The Glens' run of good results at Barrfields Park continued as they earned a point away from home against league leaders Largs Thistle, and could count themselves unfortunate not to grab all three points on the balance of the second half chances.
Glencairn manager Willie Harvey had promised to shake up the playing squad after the recent run of results, and he stuck to his word as he gave competitive debuts to no fewer than three players, with four other newcomers on the bench, including three of the under 21 squad. Dean Muir and Tony Fraser missed out through injury, but there were starting places for new acquisitions Ryan Docherty in central defence, Derek McNab on the right of midfield, and Mark Duffy as striker.
There was little to talk about in terms of goalmouth action in the opening period of the match, with both teams feeling each other out and Glencairn adjusting to their shape of 4-5-1. Graeme Brown made a good interception to snuff out the threat of Largs striker Alan Frizzell, while at the other end Duffy almost pounced on a short passback but goalkeeper Ross Lundy kicked the ball clear.
Largs claimed for a penalty in the 11th minute when Gary Phillips' corner was met at the near post by Brown with shouts for handball, but the referee wasn't interested. Glencairn goalkeeper JC Hutchison made an excellent save to hold a close-range volley by Nicky Jamieson after Phillips' cross had come over the head of Mark Batchelor.
The pace and presence at the back of new boy Docherty was giving The Glens a confident base to build on, and the visitors shocked the league leaders by taking the lead in the 25th minute, and it was two other debutants who combined for the goal. Derek McNab got past his marker to the bye line before cutting back and crossing, which caused enough panic in the home defence for the ball to break into the path of Mark Duffy, and he stabbed the ball into the net from close range for a debut goal.
The lead lasted only three minutes, however, as Largs were gifted the equaliser. Phillips' cross was punched out by Hutchison, but his punch was not clean and went straight to Alan Frizzell, who fired the ball back past the keeper and into the net as everybody else stood motionless.
Some nice footwork by Mark Tait saw him dance past four challenges before almost setting up Duffy, but Alan Gilbride came over to make a good challenge and clear the danger.
Largs edged in front in the 39th minute, and yet again it was Phillips' delivery which caused the problem, his swirling corner from the right confusing everybody except Alan Gilbride, who had space in front of goal to volley into the net from a couple of yards out.
Glencairn could have gone into their shell at that point, but to their credit they fought back and equalised on the stroke of half time. Batchelor was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, but the ball broke into the path of Derek McNab, who took a touch and then drilled the ball under Lundy to make it 2-2, also a debut goal for the midfielder.
Half time : 2-2
Glencairn started the second half very positively, Duffy's skill earning his side a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, and Alan Muir's curled effort hit the top of the bar after 48 minutes.
Alan Muir curls in the free kick which struck the woodwork.
Glencairn's pressure continued, and Tait's cross from the left in the 52nd minute picked out the head of Sean McGuire, but his header scraped the outside of the post and dropped wide. A minute later a similar move saw Kenny Hadden's cross headed wide by Batchelor. Hadden fired a tame shot straight at Lunny a few minutes later after good set-up play by Alan Muir.
There was a big call for the referee on the hour mark when Batchelor latched onto Hadden's pass in behind the defence and knocked the ball past the out-rushing Lundy, before going down just outside the penalty area. The referee awarded the foul, but chose only to show a yellow card to the goalkeeper. Muir lifted the free kick to the back post where it was met by Hadden, and there were shouts for handball, but once again the referee wasn't interested as he pointed for a corner.
The substitutions started at the hour mark with Largs bringing on James Marks to replace Frizzell, and a few minutes later Lawrie McMahon replaced Matthew Santos. Glencairn started to make their changes in the 69th minute, with under 21 midfielder Peter Copeland replacing the injured Muir, and then another under 21 player Danny Salah replaced Mark Tait. The changes continued as Glencairn brought on Trialist no.16 to replace the injured McNab.
Brown made an important clearance in front of goal as Sean Pierce sprung the offside trap and tried to set up Marks in the 78th minute. Largs' final throw of the dice saw Willie McClure replace Mark Murray, but their constant high balls towards the Glencairn defence were eaten up by the excellent Docherty and Eadie, with Hutchison also confidently claiming crosses.
A terrific challenge by Docherty denied what seemed a certain goal for Graham Muir of Largs in the 85th minute, and then McClure headed inches wide as the home side pressed for a winner.
The final big chance of the game fell to Glencairn, however, with Duffy almost grabbing the winner in the 89th minute. His deflected shot hit the crossbar, and Batchelor couldn't quite get onto the rebound.
Willie Harvey was pleased with the performance, but felt his side were worthy of all three points. He commented, "I thought we were the better team, particularly in the second half, and we had a great attitude throughout. It speaks volumes when you come away disappointed with only getting a point away to the league leaders. It was a good debut for the three new players, it's good to see them settling quickly and a couple of them getting goals."
Largs Thistle :- Lundy, Friel, Murray (McClure), Gilbride, Jamieson, McDonald, Santos (McMahon), Muir, Frizzell (Marks), Pierce, Phillips. (Subs not used - Little, Fleming.)
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison, Brown, Hadden, Eadie, Docherty, McGuire, McNab (Trialist), Batchelor, Tait (Salah), Duffy, Alan Muir (Copeland). (Subs not used - Nisanci, McCorry.)
Man of the match - Ryan Docherty.