Saturday 23rd January 2016 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Glencairn press for an equaliser in the second half.
The Glens have a fair bit of work to do to pull themselves away from the relegation zone after they slipped to an agonising last-minute defeat at home to Shotts Bon Accord. The result was more agonising after the team had battled back from two goals behind with a one-man disadvantage for half of the game, after a highly controversial first half refereeing decision.
The winter weather finally calmed enough to allow Glencairn to play their first competitive home match for fifteen weeks, but The Glens are still searching for their first home league win this season.
Willie Harvey didn't have his problems to seek in terms of team selection, with no fewer than nine signed players unavailable for selection due to a mixture of suspension, injury and work, meaning there were only thirteen fit players available. Injured midfielder Sean McGuire and assistant manager Joe Pryce were named on the bench, but they were only going to be used in an absolute emergency. New striker signing Mark Duffy was one of the missing players, meaning that Mark Tait was the only available striker as the team lined up initially in a 3-4-2-1 formation, with Alan Muir and Mark Batchelor supporting the lone striker. Loan signing Kenny Hadden made his return to New Southcroft Park, filling in on the left side of the back three, replacing the suspended Andy Neil.
Glencairn were wearing their new home strip, kindly sponsored by PTS Clean.
The home fans didn't have to wait long for their side's first goalscoring chance, as Hadden's pass up the left wing released Tait in behind the defence, but his near post effort was blocked away for a corner. Shotts responded a minute later as Gary Campbell's cross from the right was just too far in front of Arron Cairns at the back post.
Cairns was proving to be a real threat to the Glencairn defence from early in the match, and he latched onto a loose headed clearance in the 6th minute and volleyed over the bar from 18 yards. Cairns threatened again in the 17th minute as he pounced on a mistake to feed Danny Burns on the right, and he fired his shot off the face of the crossbar. The ball rebounded to Cairns, but Adam Shaw slid in to make an important block.
Burns' pace saw him get in behind Paul Doyle in the 23rd minute, but Adam Nisanci was aware enough to make a good clearance in front of goal as the visitors continued to threaten. The Glens were struggling to make much headway with their lone striker, but Batchelor almost latched onto a through ball by Nisanci in the 27th minute, denied by a good challenge by Martin McGuire as he shaped to try to lob Bon Accord goalkeeper Gary Whyte.
There was a blow for Glencairn on the half hour mark as Shaw limped off injured, and was replaced by David Dunnachie, with Graeme Brown slipping into the right midfield role. Brown barely had time to settle into his new position when he found himself heading for the changing room in the 32nd minute after a debatable refereeing decision which had a huge influence on the rest of the match.
A ball was slipped into the penalty area to Andy Cross, and Brown slid into challenge but, from my viewing angle, appeared to make no contact. Cross stumbled under the pressure of having players close to him, but he managed to keep control of the ball and carry on to get his shot away, with JC Hutchison making an excellent save, only for the referee to then retrospectively whistle for a penalty kick for Brown's challenge on Cross.
To exacerbate the situation, Brown was astonished to see the referee showing him a straight red card. Once the complaints had stopped, Burns stepped up to take the spot kick, only to see his effort saved by Hutchison's legs. The lack of a goal was some consolation for Glencairn, but their was a real sense of injustice in the team at being down to ten men, with Brown adamant that he had pulled out of the challenge and committed no foul whatsoever.
It didn't take Shotts long to press home their one-man advantage, however, and Danny Burns made amends for his penalty miss in the 40th minute when he turned past Hadden inside the penalty area and fired into the roof of the net from a tight angle to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
The lead could have been doubled in first half stoppage time when Max McKee's cross picked out Cairns on his own at the back post, but he was stretching for the ball and lifted it over the crossbar from six yards out under pressure from Hutchison.
Half time : 0-1
There were no further personnel changes at the interval, and Shotts were quickly onto the front foot again. Burns out-paced Doyle on the right and cut along the bye-line before trying to squeeze a shot in at the near post, but Hutchison made the save down low.
The lead was doubled in the 50th minute, though, as Cairns raced away down the right this time and cut the ball back into the path of Ross Brash, who had been allowed to run off his marker, and he had an easy finish from six yards out right in front of goal.
It seemed like "game over" at that point, the visitors two goals ahead and a with a one-man advantage, and Campbell could have made it three as he volleyed wide from 8 yards after more incisive play involving Cairns and Kyle Robertson.
As the hour mark approached, however, there were signs that Glencairn were beginning to cause a threat of their own, and Fraser's cross almost picked out the head of Batchelor, McKee just getting in between the Glencairn midfielder and the ball to head out for a corner.
The Glens burst back into the game in the 68th minute when they pulled a goal back. Fraser's throw in was controlled by Mark Tait, who turned away from his marker and fired a fizzing low shot which beat Whyte at his near post.
Suddenly the game had life again, and the Shotts side who had been in complete control now seemed somewhat edgy. The visitors tried to re-establish their lead as Cairns fired a free kick which Hutchison palmed away on the dive to his left, but the match swung once again in the 73rd minute as Shotts were also reduced to ten men. McGuire slid in over the ball to a challenge with Batchelor and caught the midfielder badly, and the referee didn't hesitate to produce a very obvious red card.
The sense of panic in the Shotts defence was obvious as a simple long ball saw Tait get in between the two central defenders and force an error, and the striker tried to hook the ball backwards towards goal but was half a yard off target.
Shotts brought on Danny McGuiness to replace Robertson, and he slipped into the right back position. Glencairn made the decision to try to put more pressure on the defence as Brian Eadie was brought off the bench and unusually told to go straight up front with Tait, with Nisanci the man withdrawn.
Eadie's introduction had an immediate impact, as his first touch of the ball was to lift a pass over McGuiness and into the path of Tony Fraser, who adjusted his feet before firing decisively across Whyte and into the far corner of the net for an equaliser, the prospect of which had seemed impossible only fifteen minutes earlier.
Shotts once again immediately tried to re-establish their authority, and it was that man Cairns again who threatened, pulling another excellent save out of Hutchison with an angled shot. Cairns tried his luck again with a shot from distance in the 86th minute, but Hutchison was once again a match to the effort.
Just as it seemed that The Glens had done enough to get a point from the game, disaster struck in the 90th minute. A long ball up the park was midjusged by the defence, and that man Arron Cairns was onto it in a flash, and this time he made no mistake by firing under Hutchison to make it 3-2 and a last-gasp winner for Shotts.
It was a hard result to take for the Glencairn players who had fought so hard in the second half to get back into the game from a seemingly impossible position, but in Cairns the visitors had the best man on the park by quite a distance, and he was the difference between the teams at the end of the match.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison, Brown, Fraser, Doyle, Hadden, Dean Muir, Shaw (Dunnachie), Batchelor, Tait, Alan Muir, Nisanci (Eadie). (Subs not used - Pryce, McGuire, Kerr (gk).)
Shotts Bon Accord :- Whyte, Campbell, McKee, McGuire, Murdoch, Brash, Robertson (McGuiness), Cross, Sutherland, Cairns, Burns (White). (Subs not used - Walker, Lowdon, Bryne.)
Man of the match - (chosen by Stuart Brown) Mark Batchelor.