Rutherglen Glencairn Football Club

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Rutherglen Glencairn 1 Larkhall Thistle 2

Sunday 16th July 2017 - James Glen Memorial Trophy Final (Kilbirnie tournament)

(Report by Peter Ferguson)

Larkhall Thistle 3

Tony Fraser links with Jay McKay and Fraser Team early in the match.

Glencairn contributed to their own downfall as two defensive mistakes helped Larkhall Thistle to win the final of the James Glen Memorial Trophy pre-season tournament at Kilbirnie.

There were 17 players available for selection for the final as the squad continued their pre-season preparations with their second match in as many days, although new signings goalkeeper Jack Baker, midfielder Njabulo Ndlovu and striker Gary Smith were unavailable, along with midfielder Ryan McArdle.

Glencairn goalkeeper KP McAllister had his concentration tested twice inside the opening minute as Larkhall tried to catch him out early on. Graham Gracie tried a speculative shot after only nine seconds which McAllister saved easily, but the stopper had to dive to his right after 46 seconds to beat away a shot by Mark McKeever.

Thistle continued to threaten early on as Mark Canning fired over the crossbar, and then Gracie's volley in the 7th minute was blocked away by some alert defending by Andy Neil.

The Glens almost took the lead only a few moments later with a delightful passing move  which ended with Fraser Team's shot rebounding from the post. A minute later Jamie Hamilton was allowed to surge forward and fire in a shot which he pulled a couple of yards wide of the target. The all-action nature of the opening ten minutes continued as Jay McKay's shot was deflected and saved on the goal line by Thistle no.1 Stewart Thomson.

Larkhall took the lead in the 19th minute as they took advantage of indecision between Neil and Rhys Donaldson, allowing Jonathan McStay space to fire past McAllister from 10 yards, although the keeper did get a hand to the shot.

Thistle should have double their lead three minutes later as McStay set up Gracie in front of goal, but McAllister made an excellent block. The ball spun up in the air and McStay seemed certain to score, but he somehow missed the target from close range and was also flagged for offside.

Clever footwork on the right by Hamilton created the chance for him to cross onto the head of the diving McKay, but Thomson dived low to his left to save well. The half hour mark saw McKay frustrated again as he burst past two challenges and then sliced his shot high and wide as he slightly kicked the ball with his standing foot first.

Tony Fraser's corner from the right was fumbled by Thomson, and Craig McGregor tried to nod the ball over the line, but Thistle's resolute defence threw bodies in the way to keep the ball out. McAllister showed his awareness again to smother the ball at the feet of McStay after David Reid had sprung the offside trap on the right.

Glencairn's lack of composure in front of goal continued as firstly Sean McGuire pulled his shot wide of goal, and then an inviting cross by McKay ended with Team and Del McNab getting in each other's way as the Thistle defence had been exposed.

Half time : 0-1

Larkhall Thistle 1 Larkhall Thistle 2

Jamie Hamilton and Jay McKay battle with the opposition in the first half.

Glencairn manager Willie Harvey made four changes to the line-up at the interval. Alex Grier came in for his first appearance for the first team, replacing McGregor, and Anthony Dempsey replaced Donaldson with Neil moving into the sweeper role. Craig Young replaced McGuire in central midfield, and Graham Boyd came in up front instead of Team.

Hamilton continued to look the most likely source of creation for Glencairn, and he skipped past his marker before firing in a low shot which was saved down low by Thomson. Young's incisive pass released McKay in the 51st minute, and Young continued his run to latch onto McKay's return pass, the midfielder drilling his shot over the bar from 20 yards.

The Glens were level in the 54th minute, and it's fair to say it was a touch of good fortune. Hamilton's clever flick created space on the left for Anthony Dempsey to cross, but the ball flew over everybody including Thomson into the top right hand corner of the net to make it 1-1.

Anthony Dempsey

Larkhall responded quickly and McAllister had to be on his toes again, palming a snap shot by McKeever over the crossbar only a minute later. Glencairn's fifth change on the hour mark saw Alessandro Savarese replace McKay up front.

There were shouts for a penalty for Larkhall in the 62nd minute as Neil outmuscled Reid inside the penalty area, the referee waving away the Thistle claims. Glencairn should have been ahead only moments later as another nice passing move released Boyd through on goal, but he rushed his effort unnecessarily and scuffed the ball wide of goal from 20 yards.

More fine play by Hamilton a minute later saw him set up Young for a shot which pulled a fine save out of Thomson, palming the ball over the crossbar. The pressure continued as Fraser's corner was headed over the bar from six yards on the stretch by Boyd.

The Glens' last change came with 25 minutes remaining, Ryan Bennett replacing Stewart Hall, with Young asked to move to the right wing back role. Hamilton continued to threaten and he cut in from the right this time before stretching for his shot which Thomson saved diving to his left.

Hamilton almost opened up the defence himself in the 73rd minute as he dribbled past four players on the left edge of the penalty area, but he was just crowded out as he tried to squeeze the ball into the net at the near post.

Glencairn had been dominating the game for the previous 20 minutes and at this stage it seemed that a winner was only likely to come at one end. However, the flow of a game can turn in a flash, and Glencairn gifted the lead back to Larkhall in the 76th minute. McAllister rolled a goal kick to Neil who seemed unaware that it was coming, and in nipped Jonathan McStay to steal the ball and roll it under McAllister to put Thistle 2-1 in front.

Hamilton once again tried his best to open up the Thistle defence as he linked well on the left with Dempsey, but the low cross was cut out by the defence before Boyd could get in front to convert.

Thistle went close to increasing their lead in the 86th minute as a corner from the left was met by a near post header by Brian Jack, but he couldn't twist his neck enough to divert the ball towards goal and it flew high and wide.

Thistle's impressive defence continued to hold strong right to the end of the 91st minute as the referee blew for full time, bringing to an end another year of the popular pre-season tournament.

Rutherglen Glencairn :- McAllister, McGregor (Grier), Neil, Donaldson (Dempsey), Fraser, McGuire (Young), Hall (Bennett), Hamilton, Team (Boyd), McNab, McKay (Savarese).

Larkhall Thistle :- Stewart Thomson, Doyle, Reynolds, Canning, Brown, Jack, McKeever, Gary McStay, Gracie, Jonathan McStay, Reid. (Subs - Nicol, Mushet, Robb, Forbes, Innes, Dylan Thomson.)

Man of the Match - (chosen by Stuart Brown) Jamie Hamilton.

Jamie Hamilton

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