Rutherglen Glencairn Football Club

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St Roch's 2 Rutherglen Glencairn 3

Saturday 7th April 2018 - Central League Cup Round One

(Report by Peter Ferguson)

St Roch's 4

Sean McCall made his first starting appearance for Glencairn in central midfield.

The Glens earned their place in the 2nd round of the Central League Cup as they overcame hosts St Roch's at James McGrory Park, but they were made to work hard by an impressive home side who were backed by a very healthy and noisy support. It was very much a "game of two halves", with goalkeeping errors proving costly for both teams and two excellent goals by Glencairn, along with some simply baffling decisions for and against both teams by the referee.

Glencairn manager Willie Harvey chose to rest several players ahead of the hectic schedule of league matches which starts this coming midweek, making six changes to the starting line-up from the last match a couple of weeks ago. Sean McCall made his first start for the club in central midfield, while there was starting place for defender Alex Grier for only the third time this season. Del McNab and Liam Gormley were the preferred choice up front with top goal scorers Gary Smith and Jay McKay both on the substitutes bench. The bench also included club captain Tony Fraser and regular defensive picks Rhys Donaldson and Ryan Kerr.

The home side were on the front foot from the start and they were almost gifted an opening goal in the 2nd minute as Glencairn no.1 Jack Baker scuffed a kick out straight to Reece Glackin and Baker then fell over, but Glackin's attempt to score was well blocked by Grier for a corner. The goal was only delayed a matter of seconds, however, as Stephen Bryson was left unmarked at the back post, and he knocked the ball across goal where Ryan McManus was waiting to fire St Roch's into a 1-0 lead.

You could see that Glencairn's play was disjointed early on as they tried to adjust to some players playing slightly out of position, and it took until the 9th minute for the first attempt on goal at the other end, Jamie Hamilton's dipping angled shot being well held by Chris Treacy.

St Roch's meanwhile were pressing at a tempo in surroundings that they are well familiar with, and the quality of delivery from full backs Tom Hanlon and Robert Halliday towards the strikers was causing concern for the hard-worked Glencairn back three. Jordan Logan linked well with McManus in the 19th minute but pulled his shot from 18 yards out well wide of the target.

Glencairn were starting to find their feet as the mid point of the first half approached and were now beginning to get some meaningful possession in the opposition half for the first time. McNab's cross from the left appeared to be coming onto the head of Stewart Hall until Halliday stretched his neck muscles to head-flick the ball clear.

St Roch's 3 Ryan McArdle in first half action.

McManus should have doubled the home side's lead in the 23rd minute when he got the better of Craig Palmer but then fired his angled shot wildly over the bar from eight yards out. Four minutes later Halliday's precise delivery again picked out Logan, who turned and scuffed his shot straight at Baker.

The Glens' frustrations were summed up by Hamilton firing in a shot from 35 yards in the 32nd minute, the ball flying well high and wide when better options were available. A fine pass by Ryan McArdle released McNab in the 34th minute, and he cut into the penalty area before firing in a shot which was blocked for a corner by some committed defending by Ross Dickson. Jordan Leyden headed over the crossbar from McArdle's delivery from the corner.

The referee, who (without any assistants) seemed to have decided just not to give any offsides under any circumstances, controversially awarded a free kick to St Roch's on the edge of the penalty area for no apparent reason after a fine challenge by Palmer, but Halliday curled the ball a yard over the crossbar to save any controversy for now.

It was the turn of the home support to be furious with the referee on the stroke of half time, though, as he reduced St Roch's to ten men by sending off goalkeeper Chris Treacy. A long ball out of defence seemed to catch out the home defence, and Treacy came out of his area to kick clear. He sliced the ball only a couple of yards to the left, though, leaving Gormley with an open goal to shoot towards. Treacy dived in front of the ball to block, and the referee ruled that the 'keeper had used his hand to block the ball and produced a straight red card.

After the protests from the players in green had fallen on deaf ears, substitute goalkeeper John Stark came on, with Logan the player sacrificed. Hamilton fired the free kick into the defensive wall, and McArdle's tame rebound effort flew well wide of goal. The referee blew for half time very quickly after this, but the crowd sensed the red card could be a real momentum-shifter.

Half time : 1-0

St Roch's 2

Jamie Hamilton fires the free kick against the wall just before half time.

It was obvious that the Glencairn management team had got into the heads of their players at the interval, as there was a patience and calmness in possession at the start of the second half which had been missing earlier. Having the extra man clearly contributed to that, but it was much better passing and movement now from The Glens. McNab's cross from the right almost picked out Gormley in front of goal, only for Dickson to produce a fine hooked clearance.

Following on from Hamilton's free kick just before half time, it was Jordan Leyden's turn to have a go in the 50th minute from the same position, but he couldn't get enough dip on the ball and it flew a yard too high (pictured below).

St Roch's 1

Leyden was beginning to contol the midfield now, though, and his pass started the move which brought Glencairn level in the 53rd minute. Leyden picked out Jamie Hamilton with a pass, and he skipped past his marker on the edge of the penalty before drilling a low shot back across Stark and into the net off the inside of the post.

Jamie Hamilton

The momentum of the match had now completely turned, and The Glens were now very much in the ascendancy. McArdle's cross towards Gormley produced a brilliant defensive header by Paul Tierney as the home side started to get camped inside their own half. St Roch's second substitution saw striker Stephen McDonald replace goal scorer McManus.

There was a reminder of the threat of St Roch's as Ryan Craig pulled a fine save out of Baker with an angled shot which the big stopper saved down low to his right in the 63rd minute. A minute later at the other end Hamilton fed Gormley, the striker turning his marker before firing his shot so high it flew over the ground's perimeter wall.

The pressure was building and building on the home defence, but Glencairn continued to be patient and kept to their "pass and move" ethos. Stark produced a fine save to deny Leyden in the 71st minute as he dived full length to his left to hold the midfielder's goal-bound shot.

The referee continued to confuse as he showed a yellow card to Glencairn defender Craig McGregor despite him clearly winning the ball and actually being fouled himself. Glencairn made a change in the 73rd minute as top scorer Gary Smith was brought on to try and make the difference to win the game, McNab being the man replaced.

Smith's first real contribution to the game was a free kick 28 yards from goal, which he fired over the wall and pulled a save out of Stark on his goal line. That was to prove to be just a sighter for him, though, as Glencairn were awarded yet another free kick on the edge of the box in the 80th minute. This time Gary Smith stepped up to whip the ball over the wall and into the corner of the net past the diving arms of Stark, and Glencairn had a precious lead. It was Smith's 16th goal of the season, having only started 12 matches so far.

Gary Smith

St Roch's response was to make their final change with Thomas McCluskey replacing Craig and going up front with McDonald. Glencairn remained on the front foot, though, and McArdle's cross from the left was fumbled by Stark in front of goal, although Hall wasn't able to force the loose ball into the net.

It seemed that the match was over as a contest as Glencairn went 3-1 ahead with five minutes remaining. McCall's angled shot from 18 yards took a big deflection off the outstretched leg of defender Paul Tierney, and the ball rebounded past Stark into the corner of the net.

Nobody had told St Roch's that the game was over, though, and to their enormous credit the ten men threw caution to the wind to try to rescue the game. McCluskey almost got in behind the defence only for Craig Palmer to make a vital block, and McGregor headed over his own crossbar to clear for a corner in the 88th minute.

The resulting cross came into the centre of the penalty area where McDonald fell to the ground amongst a crowd of players, and the referee whistled for a penalty kick. Kieran Daw stepped up to drill the ball low past Baker to give the noisy home support some late hope of pushing the game to a penalty shoot-out.

Glencairn were in no mood for surrendering their lead, however, and they almost capped the game off in stoppage time as Hamilton caught Stark off his line and lobbed the ball towards goal, Dickson getting back onto the goal line to head clear.

That was the last chance of the game and the referee blew for full time after just over two minutes of stoppage time to send The Glens into the second round, where they will be at home to Ashfield.

St Roch's :- Treacy, Haliday, Bryson, Daw, Craig (McCluskey), Tierney, Hanlon, McManus (McDonald), Glackin, Dickson, Logan (Stark). (Sub not used - Martin.)

Rutherglen Glencairn :- Baker, McGregor, Palmer, Grier, Leyden, McCall, Hall, Hamilton, Gormley, McNab (Smith), McArdle. (Subs not used - McKay, Fraser, Donaldson, Kerr.)

Man of the match - (chosen by Stuart Brown) Craig Palmer.

Craig Palmer

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