Saturday 18th November 2017 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Gary Smith goes close with another free kick just after his winning goal.
Glencairn secured a much-needed but thoroughly merited three points with a hard-fought away win at Shettleston, courtesy of two wonderful second half strikes. The result lifted The Glens up a place in the league table, but more importantly closed the gap to the promotion play-off places to only three points with two games in hand.
There were two changes to the starting line-up after last week's West of Scotland Cup defeat. Alex Grier came into the defence at the expense of Craig McGregor, and Jay McKay returned up front to partner top scorer Gary Smith, with Liam Gormley dropping to the substitutes' bench. Shettleston's team included two former Glencairn players in midfielder Craig Young and winger Craig Johnston.
As has been the case in several games of late, Glencairn wasted no time in getting on the front foot and they took the lead with their first serious attempt on goal in the 3rd minute. McKay bustled his way towards the penalty area and the ball broke into the path of Jordan Leyden whose shot was deflected up and over the helpless 'Town no.1 Gary Whyte and into the net.
The early pressure continued and Del McNab's run and cross was punched out by Whyte only as far as Ryan McArdle, and the wide man drilled a low shot narrowly wide of goal from 20 yards. Shettleston responded with Johnston setting up Paul Hewitt for an angled shot which was well parried away by Glencairn goalkeeper Jack Baker.
Match referee Craig King is no stranger to penalty kick controversy in Glencairn matches, and he predictably blew for a penalty kick to Shettleston in the 7th minute for an innocuous incident which no Shettleston player claimed for, the same as he did the last time he officiated on a Glencairn match. 'Town weren't complaining about the gift, and Ricky McIntosh sent Baker the wrong way from 12 yards to make it 1-1.
The home side were on top for a spell after this and Ryan Scott went close with a left foot shot from 18 yards, followed by McIntosh's angled shot from the same distance slipping narrowly wide of the far post in the 21st minute. Glencairn's attacking prowess was curtailed by an injury to McKay which left him hobbling quite heavily although able to play on for now.
The very uneven nature of the pitch was making it difficult for either side to produce any form of quality football, and the match was more of a battle to see who could control the ball and keep possession enough to create openings.
Craig Palmer made a vital interception to clip the ball away from striker Paul Hewitt as 'Town threatened on the breakaway. At the other end in the 39th minute McArdle burst into the box on the left and then tripped on a divot as he shaped to cross. Only a few minutes later the same divot brought an end to another attack by the same player, adding to the visitors' general first half frustration.
Baker made a good block to deny Hewitt in the 42nd minute after the home striker had turned Grier on the edge of the penalty area, and moments later at the other end Leyden was denied right in front of goal by an excellent block by Jack Crumlish.
Half time : 1-1
Glencairn's players celebrate the early goal by Jordan Leyden.
The half time talk in the Glencairn changing room clearly worked well as they came out a far better side for the second half. The change was immediately noticeable as a lovely passing move ended with McKay bursting into the penalty area and being denied by a timely challenge by 'Town captain Callum Nolan.
Shettleston made an early change in the second half with Kieran Lynch replacing Scott who was probably one more mis-timed tackle away from a second yellow card. McKay was performing well despite his clear discomfort from his earlier injury, and he was denied by a solid block by Crumlish after cutting into the box past two defenders.
Smith almost fired Glencairn back in front in the 53rd minute as he was given space to chest the ball down and fire in a volley which took a coat of paint off the outside of the post, with Whyte motionless on his goal line.
There hadn't been much in the way of attacking threat in the second half from 'Town, but there was a sharp reminder of their threat in the 54th minute when Lee Martin's drilled shot from distance forced an excellent save from Baker, tipping the ball over the crossbar at full stretch. Baker reacted well again from the resulting corner, getting down low to parry away Hewitt's header at the back post.
Glencairn regained their lead in the 57th minute as they got a reward for pressuring the home defence. Smith refused to give Nolan an easy get-out from the bye-line, and his poor clearance attempt went straight to Sean McGuire. The midfielder immediately fed the ball to Jay McKay, who took a touch before volleying the ball past Whyte from 19 yards, a quite brilliant finish.
The lead was almost increased two minutes later as McArdle's cross from the left was sliced over his own crossbar by Lynch as he raced back towards his own goal. The referee's bizarre view of events continued just after the hour mark as Palmer was shown a yellow card despite winning the ball as clean as a whistle right in front of the referee, another decision which left the crowd scratching their head in disbelief.
McKay's race was run by the 64th minute as he couldn't take any more pressure on his injury, but he had more than played his part and was applauded off the park and replaced up front by Liam Gormley.
Glencairn continued to look for the comfort of a third goal, and a good move involving Leyden, Tony Fraser and McArdle ended with a cross which was nodded clear off the head of McNab by Jonathan Brown at the back post. The resulting corner by McArdle found Grier at the back post and Whyte did well to palm the ball over the bar again. Shettleston were now camped in, and the next cross was flicked on by Smith and volleyed into the side netting by Gormley with the angle just too tight to convert.
Ryan Kerr was introduced to the defence for the final quarter of the match, making his debut after signing from Cambuslang Rangers last week, and he replaced Palmer on the left side of the back three.
Despite all of Glencairn's pressure, the lead was still only one goal, and there was a reminder of 'Town's threat as Martin's cross from the right picked out the head of Johnston who nodded wide of goal at the back post. That was Johnston's last contribution to what had been a quiet match from the former Glens man, and he was replaced by Michael McDowall, with MacAulay McArthur also coming on to replace Mat Laczi in the home side's final change.
The Glens passed up another chance to kill the match as McNab's good work released Gormley behind the defence, but he tried to tee up Smith instead of shooting and ended up doing neither as the ball slipped harmlessly wide of goal.
Glencairn's final change saw Craig McGregor replace Grier on the right side of defence, while there was a real problem for Shettleston with Nolan clearly struggling to move with a hamstring problem and all three of their substitutes already used. The lead remained at only one goal as Smith sprung the offside trap and dribbled round Whyte, only for Crumlish to head clear from in front of goal to keep his team in contention.
Having passed up numerous chances to kill the match, it came as no surprise to the Glencairn support when they gifted an equaliser to Shettleston out of the blue with only twelve minutes remaining. There seemed no danger at all when the ball was passed to Kerr, but he seemed to get the ball stuck between his feet on the bumpy pitch as he tried a passback to Baker. The pass was very short, allowing Paul Hewitt to pounce and produce an excellent chipped finish to bring the scores level again at 2-2.
It was now a test of character for Glencairn who, having dominated almost all of the second half, were facing the prospect of two points dropped. Gormley's deflected shot almost looped over Whyte as The Glens went back on the offensive, and then an absolutely dreadful offside flag denied Smith as he raced through on goal from Gormley's flick, with the Glencairn support behind the assistant referee enraged at the poor call.
The players didn't give up though, and Leyden's surging run in the 85th minute forced a free kick 25 yards out to the right of the penalty area. Up stepped Gary Smith who rifled a dipping shot over the wall, and the ball flashed into the net past the helpless Whyte to put The Glens back in the lead at 3-2, sparking wild celebrations by the players in front of the away dugout.
This time there was a determination in the Glencairn ranks not to concede again, and instead there was a chance for Smith to repeat his heroics only two minutes later as he fired in another swerving free kick (pictured at top) which Whyte beat away on his goal line.
The referee added on over three minutes of stoppage time, but the fight had been knocked out of the home side by Smith's brilliant strike, and the points were safely tucked away for the journey back up the road to Rutherglen.
Shettleston :- Whyte, Martin, Brown, Crumlish, Nolan, Scott (Lynch), Johnston (McDowall), Young, McIntosh, Laczi (McArthur), Hewitt. (Subs not used - Fraser, Makofo.)
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Baker, Grier (McGregor), Palmer (Kerr), Donaldson, Fraser, Leyden, McNab, McGuire, Smith, McArdle, McKay (Gormley). (Subs not used - Neil, McAllister (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Peter Ferguson) Jordan Leyden.