Rutherglen Glencairn Football Club

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Thorniewood United 1 Rutherglen Glencairn 1

Saturday 13th September 2014 - Stagecoach West Region Super League Division One

(Report by Peter Ferguson)

Thorniewood United 1

Jamie Gilmartin (2nd from left) turns to celebrate scoring Glencairn's goal.

The Glens remain unbeaten in all competitive matches this season after this result, but they missed the opportunity to go top of the league table as they failed to take full advantage of playing for almost an hour with an extra man. Over the ninety minutes a draw was probably a fair outcome, with Glencairn also being reduced to ten men as the match moved towards a close. The Glens remain level on points with three other teams at the top of the league table, but now sit in fourth place due to goal difference.

There were two changes to the starting line-up from last week's win over Kilsyth Rangers, with Keiran Donaghy brought in for Jamie MacLeod, and defender Andy Neil making his first appearance of the season after an injury in place of unavailable midfielder Sean McGuire. Neil slipped in to the left back position, with Ross Ballantyne moved to the right and Jordan Dalzell into McGuire's normal central midfield berth.

Glencairn were first to threaten as Jamie Gilmartin linked with Del Esplin, and the ball rolled into the path of Paul Thomson who scuffed his shot straight at United goalkeeper Graeme Murphy. The Glens were looking threatening in the early stages, without creating any clear cut chances.

Thorniewood's first real chance came in the 15th minute as Stephen Mullen released Gary Millar inside the penalty area, and he returned the compiment by cutting the ball back to Mullen whose shot was blocked on the 6-yard line by a goal-saving challenge by Ballantyne.

The referee surprised many in the ground by showing a yellow card to Gilmartin for what seemed like an accidental kick on the arm of Thorniewood defender Dom Green, and it was to prove to be a significant moment later for later in the game.

Millar tried his luck for 'Wood at the mid point of the first half, turning away from Marc Russell before firing a couple of yards over the crossbar. A minute later at the other end Thomson latched onto a loose ball and fired in a low diagonal shot which Murphy saved well to his left.

The man catching the eye for the home side was Millar, and he tried his luck again in the 26th minute as he tried to beat Glencairn no.1 JC Hutchison at his near post, but the big stopper beat the ball away for a corner kick.

The referee courted more controversy in the 28th minute, but this time it was the home support who were angry as a straight red card was show to midfielder David McSorley for a foul on Esplin in the centre of the pitch. With the home side obviously keen to get the whistler to even up the sides again, Millar reacted theatrically to a challenge by Esplin only two minutes later. It was a fair tackle, though, and the referee wasn't conned by the disappointing reaction. A minute later Millar had made enough of a recovery to dart into the penalty area and fire into the side netting.

United seemed to react better to playing with 10 men than Glencairn did to playing against them, and Glencairn were pinned back for a spell after the red card. Hutchison produced a terrific save to deny Mullen's hook shot which seemed a certain goal, the ball being tipped round the post at full stretch.

Thorniewood weren't to be denied, though, and they took the lead from the resulting corner. David Dunn's cross from the right picked out the towering head of Alan Fleming, and headed the ball back across goal and into the far corner of the net to give the ten men a surprise lead.

Glencairn tried to get level before the interval, but Donaghy's cross from the right in the 40th minute was just too far in front of Steven McClung and the ball flashed across the face of goal and wide. Two minutes later Thomson's corner from the left was met by a looping header by Mark Bishop which hit the top of the crossbar and dropped over.

Half time : 1-0

Thorniewood United 2 Thorniewood United 3

Ross Ballantyne and Marc Russell start first half Glencairn attacks.

There were no personnel changes at the interval, but Glencairn were given clear instructions to pass the ball better and keep their patience. However, the home side almost doubled their lead only 30 seconds after the re-start, Millar finding space between defenders to lob a shot which had Hutchison beaten but which dropped narrowly wide of the far post.

Glencairn almost produced a superb equalised in the 50th minute as Esplin linked with Gilmartin, and Esplin curled a shot for the far corner of the net, only for Murphy to dive full length and beat the ball away. Two minutes later Dalzell tried a speculative left foot shot from 25 yards which Murphy saved on his goal line.

It was better, though, from Glencairn compared to the untidy first half, and the scores were level only a minute later. Esplin's surging run was ended with a foul on the edge of the penalty area, and Jamie Gilmartin fired the free kick round the wall and into the net for his fourth goal in as many games since joining the club.

Jamie Gilmartin Jamie Gilmartin

Thorniewood made an immediate change, with David Hamilton replacing Gary Duggan. It was now to be expected that the extra man advantage would tell on the flow of the game, and Glencairn had their tails up again. The Glens had the ball in the net again in the 59th minute as Murphy fumbled Donaghy's corner into the net, but the referee deemed that McClung had fouled the home no.1 and disallowed the goal. A minute later McClung made space for himself to shoot from 18 yards but pulled his shot wide of the target.

Both sides made a change in the 63rd minute. Kris Irvine replaced Donaghy for The Glens, while JP Grant came on for United with Dunn the man withdrawn.

Glencairn continued to huff and puff but were meeting a resolute home defence. Thomson's corner from the right was met on the volley by Bishop but the shot rose high over the bar from 16 yards.

United made their final change with Mickey Graham replacing Mullen, as they tried to introduce fresh legs to counter their one-man disadvantage. The home side continued to work hard and press high up the park, not giving the Glencairn defence and midfield any comfort time in possession from which to build attacks.

There was a change of shape for Glencairn as Jamie MacLeod was introduced and Ballantyne withdrawn, with three at the back now deployed and an extra attacking midfield option.

The match changed again in the 80th minute, though, as that early harsh yellow card for Gilmartin came back to haunt the big striker. Gilmartin skipped into the penalty area and felt a slight touch from his marker as he went past him. He fell to the ground unconvincingly in the referee's eyes, and it was no surprise when the yellow card appeared again and the red followed.

Glencairn's reaction was to throw on another tall striker, with Gavin Ross introduced and Thomson withdrawn, as they still believed three points were there for the taking. Del Esplin continued to pull the strings, and his free kick found the head of Russell whose diving effort hit the outside of the post and the side netting.

With five minutes remaining, another great delivery by Esplin found the head of Ross, but his header flew well over the bar from eight yards out. With the sides now even in personnel, though, Thorniewood sensed their chance could be about to arrive, and Russell had to show good pace and strength to deny Charles Grant as he threatened with four minutes remaining.

With two minutes remaining, JP Grant had a great chance to win the match for Thorniewood as he was picked out for a free header at the back post, but Hutchison got across to make a good block and grabbed the loose ball before any rebound chance.

There was a mild panic in the Glencairn defence in the 93rd minute as a cross from the right was allowed to bounce inside the six yard box, but somehow the ball was scrambled away and the referee blew almost immediately for full time.

Glens manager Willie Harvey was looking at the positives after the match. He commented, "I thought we were poor in the first half, but we were much better in the second half, and this is always a difficult place to get any form of positive result, so a draw is fair enough. We have seven points from our opening three games, two of them away from home, and we're level on points with the top of the league and still unbeaten all season. And there is a lot more still to come from us."

Thorniewood United :- Murphy, Collins, Smith, Green, Fleming, Dunn (JP Grant), Mullen (Graham), McSorley, Millar, Charles Grant, Duggan (Hamilton). (Subs not used - McBride, Geechan.)

Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison, Ballantyne (MacLeod), Neil, Bishop, Russell, Dalzell, Thomson (Ross), Esplin, Gilmartin, McClung, Donaghy (Irvine). (Subs not used - Kilmartin, Dunnachie.)

Man of the match - (chosen by Stephen Low) Del Esplin.

Del Esplin Del Esplin

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