Saturday 2nd December 2017 - Scottish Junior Cup Round Three
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Craig McGregor is denied in front of goal in a first half attack.
Glencairn eased into the 4th round of the Scottish Junior Cup and ensured their interest in the competition continued into the New Year, as they hit six goals past North Region Super League side Stonehaven at The Celsius Stadium. The visitors came to Rutherglen in a confident mood, having beaten Cambuslang Rangers away from home in the last round, but it was a different story this time as The Glens' slick passing game was too much for Stonehaven to handle.
With top scorers Gary Smith and Jay McKay both not fully fit, manager Willie Harvey opted to go with a front pairing of Liam Gormley and Alessandro Savarese instead, with Smith and McKay on the substitutes' bench. Regular midfield starters Stewart Hall, Sean McGuire and Del McNab were also all unavailable, which created openings for Jamie Hamilton to return after injury and a first start on the right of midfield for recent signing Connor Brannigan. Craig McGregor returned on the right side of back three, with Alex Grier dropping to the bench.
Stonehaven started the match positively and created their first chance inside the opening miniute. A cross from the left picked out the head of Ryan Fenby who had got in behind Craig Palmer, but his header flew about 20 yards wide of goal. The fifth minute saw striker Jordan Reid knock the ball past McGregor and then fall to the floor without any contact, but the referee wasn't conned and rightly ignored the striker's hopeful glances towards him.
The early pressure from the visitors continued as they were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area, but Adam McWilliam's shot didn't have enough force to trouble Glencairn no.1 Jack Baker who saved easily on his goal line.
Glencairn's first big chance of the game arrived in the 9th minute as Liam Gormley anticipated a short header back to the goalkeeper by defender Neal McTavish. Gormley lobbed his effort over goalkeeper Fraser Stark but also well over the crossbar. Two minutes later Stark made an excellent save to palm Hamilton's goal-bound shot over the bar, but The Glens were now settling into their passing rhythm and looking likely to break the deadlock.
The opening goal arrived from the resulting corner kick. The cross from the left came right through to Brannigan on the other side, and he returned the ball back back into the centre onto the head of Jordan Leyden who nodded the ball into the corner of the net from six yards.
Gormley almost doubled the lead in the 16th minute as he latched onto Hamilton's pass and spun away from his marker, but his shot was blocked and then smothered on the ground by Stark. Two minutes later Stark had to be awake to the danger as McGregor's late run sprung the offside trap to latch on to Palmer's high lob over the defence, but Stark beat away McGregor's back header.
Stonehaven midfielder Lewis Johnston became the first player into the referee's notebook for a late challenge on Leyden in front of the Glencairn dugout. Some fine build-up play involving Hamilton and Gormley in the 32nd minute ended with Hamilton's angled shot flying well over.
There hadn't been much threat from Stonehaven since their early flurries as Glencairn's defence was being expertly marshalled by sweeper Rhys Donaldson, but the visitors earned another set piece attempt on the edge of the penalty area in the 36th minute. This time Robert Armstrong took the effort and curled it round the wall but also a yard wide of the target. Palmer's sliced passback to Baker in the 39th minute forced the big stopper to race out and kick clear under pressure from Lewis Shand.
McTavish was the next player to see yellow as he clattered over the top of Gormley twice inside a couple of seconds. As half time approached Brannigan's cross from the right looked to be coming right onto the head of Gormley at the back post, only for a last-gasp defensive flick to knock the ball out for a corner. Just before the half time whistle Savarese's good work set up a chance for Leyden inside the penalty area, but a well-timed challenge by McTavish kept his side only one goal behind at the interval.
Half time : 1-0
Connor Brannigan was making his first competitive starting appearance for the club.
The sounds from the away dressing room at the interval made it clear to all within earshot that Stonehaven were far from happy with how things were going, but things were to get much worse for them in the second half. There was an early warning as Brannigan's corner from the right was head-flicked on by McGregor and dropped just the wrong side of Gormley at the back post.
With only a one-goal lead, however, there was always the danger of one slip proving costly, and Baker had to react well as he dived to his left to take the sting out of McGregor's miscued back header before grabbing the loose ball.
Any doubts about Glencairn winning the match were very quickly wiped away by a sudden flood of goals starting in the 59th minute. Tony Fraser started the move with a pass which picked out Hamilton in space in the centre of the pitch. Hamilton's slick pass to Savarese was then fed on to Liam Gormley who passed the ball into the corner of the net for a quite delightful team goal.
Stonehaven's immediate reaction was to make the first substitution of the game, with striker Craig Mackie replacing midfielder Fenby. Any plans from that tactical switch were thrown out of the water only seconds later, however, as Glencairn killed the match as a contest with a third goal. Jamie Hamilton pounced on a loose ball midway inside the half and darted right at the heart of the defence, shuffling his feet to make the defenders in front of him spin like hula hoops, and he fired a precise finish into the corner of the net.
Only two minutes later it got worse for the visitors as Glencairn made it 4-0. Hamilton's pass split the defence open for Jordan Leyden to run through on goal. Stark did well to block the first shot, but the midfielder was calm enough to control the loose ball and fire his second attempt into the net at the near post.
As if to add insult to injury, Glencairn then brought on top goal scorer Gary Smith to replace Savarese before the game restarted. Stonehaven responded by bringing on striker Ryan Clark to replace defender Ludwik Metelski, and they nearly pulled a goal back straight away as McWilliam's angled drive was well parried on the dive to his right by the alert Baker.
Glencairn were now cutting open the Stonehaven defence at will, and Gormley's reverse pass released Smith on the edge of the penalty area in the 70th minute. Stark made a fine save, but the ball broke loose to Hamilton who was upended by Johnston in the act of shooting, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Jordan Leyden was given the opportunity to complete his hat trick, and he sent Stark the wrong way to make it 5-0.
Jordan Leyden in second half action on his way to completing his hat trick.
The chances kept coming for Glencairn, and a delicious cross by Ryan McArdle from the left came right onto the boot of Gormley who tried to cushion his volley into the net, but instead fired just wide of the post.
Leyden's fine work for the day was done and he was replaced in the centre of the park by Alex Grier in the 76th minute. There was still drama to come, though, and Glencairn were reduced to ten men when Palmer was shown a straight red card for an unnecessary trip on McTavish just past the halfway line.
Having the extra man gave Stonehaven some hope of a consolation goal to take on the long journey home, but Baker was in no mood to give up his clean sheet and he parried away Armstrong's angled shot in the 82nd minute. Moments later Mackie took a dive inside the penalty area to try and win a penalty, but just as earlier in the match the referee wasn't fooled and waved play on.
Despite the one-man disadvantage, Glencairn continued to open up the defence, and they made it 6-0 with four minutes remaining. Gormley's flick picked out the run of Jamie Hamilton, and he once again had defenders and goalkeeper spinning as he sold them all a clever dummy before rolling the ball into the empty net.
Stonehaven's miserable afternoon was complete in the 88th minute as they were also reduced to ten men, Lewis Johnston committing one foul too many for the referee's liking and receiving a second yellow card.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Baker, McGregor, Palmer, Donaldson, Fraser, Leyden (Grier), Brannigan, Hamilton, Gormley, Savarese (Smith), McArdle. (Subs not used - McKay, Kerr, Neil.)
Stonehaven :- Stark, Millsom, Metelski (Clark), Gray, McTavish, McWilliam, Fenby (Mackie), Johnston, Reid, Armstrong, Lewis Shand. (Subs not used - Lowden, Martin Shand, Mellough (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Ralph Murphy) Rhys Donaldson.