Saturday 14th April 2018 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Stewart Hall in first half action.
It was a good afternoon for Glencairn at The Celsius Stadium as they secured another three points in the promotion race, while three of their promotion rivals dropped points elsewhere. The result meant that Glencairn remained in 6th place, but have closed the gap to three of the teams above them as they push for one of the four automatic promotion spots.
After the frustration of letting a two-goal lead slip to only draw in midweek, there were three changes to the starting line-up selected by Willie Harvey. Jack Baker returned between the sticks as Chris Truesdale returned to u21s duty, while Craig Palmer replaced Ryan Kerr in the back three. The other change saw Stewart Hall being a straight swap for Ryan McArdle on the right side of midfield. Shettleston's starting XI included familiar faces for Glencairn fans, as former players Craig Young and Craig Johnston started the game, while former u21 midfielder Connor McGuiness was on the substitutes' bench.
The match took some time to fire into action, with very little in the way of goalmouth action in the opening ten minutes. An inswinging corner by Tony Fraser in the 9th minute was just too high for the free head of Del McNab at the back post, but that was the closest either team came to scoring in the opening stages.
The visitors were gifted a chance to open the scoring in the 14th minute, however, as Palmer mis-hit a backwards pass straight into the path of striker Ryan McKeever. It seemed that the 'Town striker couldn't quite believe his luck, and his attempted finish lacked conviction as Baker raced out to block with his legs, with Rhys Donaldson clearing the loose ball with his head.
Glencairn were relieved by that let-off, and almost took the lead themselves a minute later as Jay McKay sprinted onto Jordan Leyden's header over the top of the defence, but he sliced his angled shot high and wide.
Shettleston's physical approach to the match up to this stage wasn't lost on the referee, and midfielder Alex Ewing was the first player to be shown a yellow card for persistent fouling after only 16 minutes. He was followed into the referee's book by striker Paul Hewitt for a very late challenge on Palmer in front of the Glencairn dugout.
A lovely passing move by Glencairn from the halfway line up to the edge of the penalty area ended with McNab firing an angled shot over the crossbar from 18 yards. There was much anticipation amongst the home support when a free kick was awarded on the edge of the penalty area, as Gary Smith shaped to take one of his trademark efforts. The ball dipped over the wall and looked a goal all the way, until 'Town goalkeeper Gary Whyte produced a terrific save to tip the ball onto the top of the crossbar.
Rhys Donaldson was in typically commanding form in the centre of defence.
Leyden became the first Glencairn player to see yellow for an innocuous incident in midfield, and there were signs of frustration in the home ranks when Craig McGregor was also yellow card for a clear tug on Hewitt on halfway. The free kick saw Baker come from his line to punch clear, and then he blocked the attempted rebound shot, before Young's final half-hit shot was cleared from in front of goal by Fraser.
Terrific hold-up play by McKay got The Glens quickly from one end of the park to the other in the 41st minute, and he then linked with Smith who fired the ball across the face of goal just too far in front of Hall at the far post.
Just as it seemed the scoreline was going to be blank at the interval, The Glens struck just moments before the half-time whistle. A sclaffed kick out by Whyte was pounced on by Hall on the halfway line. Whyte was racing back towards his own goal as some fans were calling for Hall to shoot towards the empty net. Instead he picked out a precise pass to Jay McKay in space on the edge of the penalty area, and he fired a low shot past Whyte to open the scoring.
Palmer was rather harshly shown a yellow card in the few seconds before the half time whistle, but Glencairn confidently defended the free kick to take a precious lead into the interval.
Half time : 1-0
Glencairn made a change at the interval as Alex Grier replaced Palmer to protect him from any further action by the referee, while 'Town stayed with their starting selection meantime.
McKay should have doubled his and Glencairn's tally in the 47th minute as he latched onto a wonderful reverse pass by Smith to race through on goal. However the striker took a heavy second touch and Whyte raced out to smother the ball at his feet.
Jordan Leyden surges forward for Glencairn early in the second half.
The pressure continued from Glencairn as they looked to give themselves a two-goal margin. Leyden fired over the crossbar from 20 yards in the 50th minute, before an important headed clearance by Ryan Scott denied McNab as he looked to get on the end of Hall's cross.
Whyte produced another fine save as he dived to his left to palm Sean McGuire's curled effort round the post in the 52nd minute. The resulting corner picked out the head of Leyden, but his effort slipped half a yard wide of the target.
Memories of the missed chances in the previous game were starting to haunt the home support as McKay beat two players well before slicing a shot wide of goal in the 54th minute. The fears were almost realised a minute later as a loose pass surrendered possession and Shettleston were quickly through on goal. Hewitt only had Baker to beat, but once again the big stopper won the battle of wills as he palmed away the attempted chipped finish by Hewitt.
Perhaps that was the warning that Glencairn needed, and they finally got the second goal in the 56th minute. McKay's persistence forced the ball through to Del McNab, who produced a quite delightful finish across Whyte with the outside of his right foot.
The Glens were now in no mood to repeat their mistakes of the previous game, and they set about increasing their lead. Smith looked to have done exactly that as he rose at the back post to head the ball past Whyte, only to be denied by the face of the crossbar. Moments later Smith threatened again with his head and Whyte fumbled the ball, but recovered in time before McKay could pounce on the loose ball.
'Town's first substitution just before the hour mark saw Connor McGuiness replace Ewing in central midfield, meaning the visitors now had last season's Glencairn u21s central midfield of Young and McGuiness. Shettleston threatened briefly as Ricky McIntosh crossed from the right, but Hall made an important defensive header to clear the danger.
Young was next into the referee's notebook as he clattered into Smith from behind, a very easy decision for the referee this time, and moments later he was joined by team mate Scott for a very late tackle which left Leyden needing treatment. Shettleston's second change saw Hewitt replaced by Juan Boblacones.
Glencairn calmed any remaining nerves in the home support at the mid point of the second half as they effectively secured the points with a third goal. Young tried to dribbled out of defence but was caught in possession by Gary Smith, who raced clear on goal before calmly rolling the ball past Whyte for his 19th goal of the season.
Leyden was still feeling the effects of Scott's tackle and was replaced in central midfield by Sean McCall almost immediately after Smith's goal. Smith went close with another header which was cleared off the line by Young, but Glencairn were now relaxed and playing freely, knowing that they had the points wrapped up already.
The score increased to 4-0 in the 70th minute as substitute Sean McCall drilled a rising left footed shot from 20 yards which flew into the postage stamp corner, Whyte getting a hand to the shot but only able to help it on its way into the net. It was McCall's first goal for Glencairn after signing a few weeks ago.
With his job well done for the afternoon, Smith was wrapped in cotton wool for the next game and replaced up front by Liam Gormley for the final 20 minutes.
Glencairn's momentum was broken by a consolation goal for Shettleston in the 79th minute, as McIntosh's shot was cleared off the line but then rebounded off Sean McGuire's chest and flashed into the net for an unfortunate own goal.
The yellow cards continued as McGuiness was shown yellow for a late sliding challenge on Hall. Young's return to Rutherglen hadn't really gone as he had hoped, and his afternoon ended in misery for him as he made the early walk to the changing rooms in the 86th minute. McCall and Young were both shown yellow for rather unnecessarily locking horns in the centre circle, but it was Young's second yellow card and the inevitable red card followed.
With the points firmly in the bag, the match drifted to a quiet conclusion and the home support left happy with their lot as results from elsewhere started to drift in to help add to the smiles.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Baker, McGregor, Palmer (Grier), Donaldson, Fraser, McGuire, Hall, Leyden (McCall), Smith (Gormley), McNab, McKay. (Subs not used - McArdle, Kerr.)
Shettleston :- Whyte, Martin, Young, Campbell, Crumlish, Scott, Johnston, Ewing (McGuiness), McKeever, McIntosh, Hewitt (Boblacones). (Subs not used - McGinley, McArthur, Caddis (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Andy McFadyen) Rhys Donaldson.