Saturday 30th April 2016 - LSK West of Scotland Under 21 Cup Semi Final
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Jason McArthur skips past his marker before firing Glencairn u21s into the lead.
Glencairn Under 21s qualified for their second cup final of the season as the search for silverware continues on three fronts as we move towards the business end of the season. In the end it was an emphatic victory for the young Glens, and they could have scored a few more.
The team were boosted by the return to the starting line-up of influential 30-goal striker Jason McArthur, who has recovered from a troublesome hip injury, and he was partnered up front by Dale Wallace who has also recovered from injury, meaning captain Ryan Bennett reverted to his usual central midfield role, as the team lined up in a 3-2-3-2 formation.
The young Glens started on the front foot, and the overlapping runs of defender Peter Copland saw him go close to scoring twice in the 4th minute. Njabulo Ndlovu had to make a smart tackle to deny Liam McGonigle in the 7th minute, recovering for his own slack pass straight to the St Peter's striker. McGonigle was the clear danger to the Glencairn defence, and he skipped past Craig Young in the 9th minute before Ross McConville made a solid tackle to thwart the danger.
St Peter's were a clear threat in the opening stages, and Georgi Baiashvili was inches away from scoring with a shot which slipped across goal and wide of the far post in the 11th minute. Gradually, though, Glencairn started to assert their authority on proceedings, Ndlovu releasing McArthur who tried to set up Wallace in the middle, but fired the cross too firm across goal.
The deadlock was broken in the 26th minute, and it was the returning front man who fired Glencairn into the lead. A cross from the left came over the defence, and Jason McArthur took an excellent first touch, before skipping round his marker (pictured at top) and firing across goalkeeper Conner McGuire into the far corner of the net.
Two minutes later the lead was doubled with a delightful piece of footwork. The visitors' defence failed to deal with a ball lifted into the penalty area, and Anton Phinn latched onto the loose ball, before dribbling past two challenges and firing past McGuire to make it 2-0.
The Glens seemed to have a firm grip on the game at this stage, and they went close again when McArthur linked with McGuiness and the striker's shot was blocked. Ndlovu then bustled his way past three challenges before before tackled in the act of shooting.
St Peter's found a way back into the match in the 31st minute, somewhat against the run of play at that stage. Baiashvili fed the ball in from the left, and the ball broke into the path of striker Stephen Thomson, who took a touch before driving a firm shot into the roof of the net.
That setback knocked the momentum out of Glencairn for a short period, but they almost regained their two-goal lead in the 41st minute when Wallace's flick-on set up Bennett for a shot which he pulled across goal and a couple of yards wide.
There was a controversial moment in first half stoppage time as McArthur got in behind the defence and ran through on goal, before falling under a challenge from behind by defender Mark Farquhar. The referee chose not to give the foul and the consequential red card he would have been obliged to give, instead choosing the option of saying that McArthur just stumbled.
Half time : 2-1
Ryan Bennett runs at the St Peter's defence during the first half.
Glencairn were quickly onto the front foot again at the start of the second half, and McArthur's low cross was inches too far in front of the sliding Bennett at the back post.
The two-goal lead was re-established in the 52nd minute as Glencairn took a firm grip on the match that they weren't going to let go this time. Anton Phinn's curling corner from the right dropped straight into the net, with McGuire only able to help the ball on its way over the line (pictured below). It was Phinn's 34th goal of the season, remarkable for a player who doesn't play as an out-and-out striker.
Anton Phinn's curling corner drops straight into the net to make it 3-1.
Two minutes later it was that man McArthur threatening again, as he took a delightful first touch to a ball over the top from Ndlovu, but this time McGuire tipped the shot over the bar.
Glencairn made their first substitution after 55 minutes, with Mark McHendry replacing defender Anthony Dempsey in a straight swap. McHendry almost got on the score sheet only two minutes after coming on, as McGuiness' corner from the left picked out the defender at the back post, but he headed wide of the target from close range.
Having chosen not to award anything just before half time, the referee courted controversy again just before the hour mark, when St Peter's defender Chris McFadyen very blatantly handled the ball to stop it running through to striker Wallace. it was clearly a goal scoring opportunity had the defender not diverted the ball, but the referee chose only to show yellow.
The Glens effectively ended the match as a contest in the 60th minute as they went 4-1 ahead. McGuiness' corner from the left was tipped off the head of Ndlovu by McGuire, but McHendry immediately returned the ball across goal where Dale Wallace was waiting to fire into the net from close range, Wallace's 23rd goal of the season.
It was now a matter of "how many", and Glencairn wrapped players up in the knowledge that the hard work had been done. Shaun Roberts replaced Peter Copland in defence, and then there was a triple change with Phinn, Wallace and Young being replaced by Craig Dallas, Jordan Davidson and David Quinn respectively.
The changes didn't blunt Glencairn's threat, however, and McGuire had to tip the ball off McArthur's head as he threatened once again. It was 5-1 in the 72nd minute when the ball broke kindly off Ndlovu into the path of Jordan Davidson, and he drilled a decisive finish into the net to achieve a unique record of having scored for both teams against each other this season, having joined Glencairn from St Peter's at the start of the year.
It came as no surprise when Glencairn increased their lead to 6-1 with six minutes remaining. A precise pass picked out the ever-willing run of Jason McArthur, and he took a perfect first touch on his chest before rolling the ball under McGuire for his 32nd goal of the season.
St Peter's had hardly threatened in the second half, but they were gifted a chance in the 87th minute when Glencairn no.1 Chris Truesdale scuffed a kick out straight to McGonigle, but the stopper recovered to smother at the striker's feet.
Glencairn's threat continued right to the full time whistle, with McArthur setting up Davidson in the 90th minute and the final touch of the match smacking off the crossbar.
And so the young Glens are through to their second cup final of the season, with the possibility of a third with the semi final of the Golden Goals Cup scheduled to take place next weekend. The opponents for the final will be the winner of the other semi final between Pollok Juveniles and Steins Thistle, with the date and venue to be confirmed.
Rutherglen Glencairn u21s :- Truesdale, Copland (Roberts), Dempsey (McHendry), McConville, Ndlovu, Young (Quinn), Bennett, McGuiness, Phinn (Dallas), Wallace (Davidson), McArthur. (Subs not used - Chrystal, McCorry, Conroy, Salah, Sproull.)
St Peter's Giffnock North u21s :- McGuire, Paul, McGrotty, McCallum, McFadyen, Farquhar, Ford, Kier, Thomson, McGonigle, Baiashvili. (Subs - Wyne, Doherty, McNee, Summers.)
Man of the match - (chosen by Gerry King) Jason McArthur.