Saturday 25th July 2015 - James Glen Memorial Trophy (Kilbirnie tournament)
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Dean Muir gets the better of his midfield opponents in the first half.
The Glens will meet hosts Kilbirnie Ladeside in the final of the James Glen Memorial Trophy pre-season tournament for the second year in a row, after a penalty shoot-out win over Largs Thistle at Valefield Park. New goalkeeper signing Robert Kerr made his Glencairn debut, and it was a dramatic first appearance as he saved no fewer than four penalties, one in the match itself and three in the shoot-out.
Seven of the ten summer signings started the match with a further two on the bench as manager Willie Harvey continued to integrate the new players into his planned formation.
Glencairn started the match very positively and went close in the 2nd minute when Tony Fraser hit a free kick which deflected off the defensive wall and looped over Thistle goalkeeper Daryll Matthews, the ball rebounding from the top of the crossbar. The early pressure continued as Mark McCarry fired a diagonal shot from 20 yards just over the bar in the 4th minute.
It was no surprise, therefore, when The Glens took an early lead, and it was a quite clinical finish. A diagonal ball from Paul Doyle saw Denis McLaughlin turn his marker before hitting the ball on the half-volley into the far corner of the net past the helpless Matthews.
There was disbelief in the Glencairn contingent in the ground in the 16th minute when the referee waved away penalty claims despite a clear handball offence which denied McLaughlin the chance to double the lead. Five minutes later McCarry almost capitalised on a defensive error when he pounced on a short header back to Matthews, but he lobbed over the bar from close range.
Largs hadn't seriously threatened the Glencairn goal in the opening quarter of the match, but Robert Kerr was called into the action in the first time in his Glencairn career in the 22nd minute, saving down low from a shot by Kevin Struthers after good link play with Sean Pierce.
Goalmouth action was scarce in the next 15 minutes or so but, as half time approached, The Glens upped the tempo again. Paddy Cullen danced into the penalty area in the 40th minute before setting up Mark Batchelor for a shot which rose half a yard past the junction of crossbar and post.
Largs threatened to equalise in the 42nd minute when Pierce linked on the left with Mark Murray, and the left full back's cross came over Kerr and flashed across goal with nobody able to apply the finish.
Applause rang around the ground from all supporters a minute later when Adam Shaw drilled in a shot from 30 yards out, with Matthews diving full length to his left to fingertip the ball round the post for a corner. The resulting cross from Fraser was headed off the line by Thistle centre back Creag Little.
Right on the half time whistle Glencairn went close again when McCarry's free kick from the left was met by the head of Shaw (pictured below), the ball being deflected over the crossbar before the referee blew for half time.
Adam Shaw goes close on the stroke of half time.
Half time : 0-1
Glencairn made two changes at half time, with Chris Zok replacing Cullen up front and Graeme Brown coming on at right back in place of McCarry, with Shaw moved forward into midfield. Largs remained with their starting XI.
Disaster struck for The Glens only thirty seconds after the re-start as Largs pulled themselves level in controversial circumstances. A long ball saw Doyle claim for offside and hesitate for the ball, only for the flag to stay down, allowing the ball to be rolled into the centre to Graham Muir who slipped the ball past Kerr from 12 yards. Glencairn's players protested to the assistant referee, but it fell on deaf ears and the goal was awarded.
The Glens' rhythm was disrupted even further as Fraser limped off with an achilles niggle, and was replaced by Mark Tait, with Andy Neil going to left back and Shaw showing his versatility by dropping into central defence. Matters were complicated further only a minute later when Neil limped off to be replaced by trialist Jim Smith, with Shaw moving to his fourth position of the match at left back.
Largs made their first changes in the 64th minute with Alan Frizzell and James Marks replacing the front pairing of Struthers and Pierce.
Tait brought Matthews into the action again with a shot on the drop which was saved on the dive to his left. Matthews saved at the feet of Batchelor a minute later after beautiful set up play involving Tait and Zok.
Glencairn's supporters held their breath in the 67th minute when Smith was caught trying to shepherd the ball out of play and was robbed by Frizzell. The Thistle substitute dribbled round Kerr and then threw himself to the ground to claim a penalty kick. The referee wasn't conned, however, and showed a yellow card to the striker for simulation, which the striker accepted without dispute. It seemed a strange action from the striker as he would have had an open goal to shoot into had he stayed on his feet.
Thistle were having the better of the play as the match moved into the final quarter, with Glencairn's team now patched up with players out of position in several areas. Garry Fleming pulled a shot wide of the target from 20 yards in the 71st minute, before the referee bemused the crowd in the 72nd minute.
A ball over the top of the Glencairn defence saw Kerr race out to the edge of the penalty area and get a hand to Frizzell's lob, the striker falling over in the process. The referee whistled for a penalty kick, however, much to the disgust once again of the players in black and white. Marks stepped up to take the effort, but he drilled the ball low and straight and Kerr saved with his left foot to keep the score level.
Largs made their final changes with 10 minutes remaining, Jamie McDonald and Glenn Thomson replacing Fleming and Graham Muir respectively.
Glencairn made a final push to try and win the game, with Zok setting up Batchelor for a low drilled shot which Matthews saved diving to his left. Thirty seconds later persistent play by McGuire saw him set up McLaughlin for a drilled shot which was blocked right in front of goal.
The late chances kept coming for Glencairn, with Shaw releasing Tait through on goal in the 87th minute and the striker holding off his marker only to fire wide of the target. In the second minute of stoppage time the referee blew for a foul on Matthews when Doyle seemed certain to score right in front of goal, another decision which baffled and frustrated the Glencairn players.
And so the ninety minutes ended in a 1-1 draw, and a penalty shoot-out was required to decide who would play in Sunday's final. Matthew Santos scored the first penalty for Largs, with Dean Muir levelling it for Glens with the next kick. The next two kick were also scored, Glenn Thomson for Largs and Chris Zok for Glencairn, although Zok's effort crept over the line after Matthews got a strong hand to the shot.
Jamie McDonald's third kick for Thistle was saved by Kerr, but the score remained level after three kicks each as Matthews also saved Mark Tait's next effort for Glencairn. Kerr's heroics continued, though, as he beat away Largs' fourth kick by Alan Frizzell, and Denis McLaughlin put The Glens on the brink of the final as he drilled the ball into the net to make it 3-2.
Victory was confirmed for Glencairn when Kerr saved again from Thistle's fifth shot, deflecting Ciaran Friel's shot over the bar with his foot (pictured below), meaning Glencairn's final kick wasn't necessary.
Robert Kerr saves his fourth penalty of the afternoon to send Glencairn into the final.
Largs Thistle :- Matthews, Friel, Murray, Gilbride, Little, Fleming (McDonald), Santos, Muir (Thomson), Struthers (Frizzell), Pierce (Marks), McMahon.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Kerr, Shaw, Fraser (Tait), Doyle, Neil (Smith), Muir, McGuire, Batchelor, McLaughlin, Cullen (Zok), McCarry (Brown). (Sub not used - Mastraszek (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Peter Ferguson) Robert Kerr.