Rutherglen Glencairn Football Club

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Tower Hearts u21s 0 Rutherglen Glencairn u21s 1

Thursday 14th April 2016 - U21 Golden Goals Cup Quarter Final

(Report by Peter Ferguson)

Tower Hearts u21s

Anton Phinn fires Glencairn u21s into the lead from the penalty spot.

Glencairn Under 21s moved into the semi final of the Golden Goals Cup with this hard-fought away win over league title rivals Tower Hearts. The result keeps the young Glens side on course for a Treble of trophy wins this season as they try to match the achievement of the U21 team of season 2012-13.

There was a selection headache prior to the match for the management team, with strikers Jason McArthur and Dale Wallace (who have scored 51 goals between them this season so far) both missing through injury. The decision was taken to employ team captain Ryan Bennett as a makeshift striker for the evening, supported from behind by Jordan Davidson and Anton Phinn, with a solid midfield engine room of Connor McGuiness and Njabulo Ndlovu being anchored by Craig Young.

Glencairn were first to go close, as McGuiness' corner from the left in the 4th minute was headed just over the bar at the back post by Ross McConville. Tower's response was a ball over the top of the defence which saw Alessandro Savarese hold off Shaun Roberts before flashing a shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

The tension of the occasion seemed to be showing as both teams seemed to want to go long a bit more than normal, but the tactic almost paid off in the 12th minute as Bennett latched onto a long pass by Phinn, setting up Davidson for a shot which was deflected wide for a corner kick. Ndlovu tried a spectacular hook volley a minute later which flew a yard wide of the target.

Roberts showed good positional sense in the 21st minute as he headed off the line from a curling Tower corner kick from Dylan Hendry, as the match continued to be as closely contested as the large crowd had expected.

Glencairn no.1 Chris Truesdale was called into the action for the first time at the mid point of the first half as Dale Simeon turned inside Peter Copland and set up Chris Byrne for a low shot from 20 yards, Truesdale saving down low on his goal line. A minute later at the other end Phinn tried to surprise Tower goalkeeper Calum McBain with an angled shot from distance, but the effort was off target.

Kyle Gallagher went close with a near post glancing header for Tower in the 27th minute, and then Roberts sliced a shot over the crossbar on the half hour mark after being set up for the shot by Phinn's rolled free kick.

Phinn and Bennett continued to be the main threat for Glencairn, although Ndlovu's influence on the game from midfield was steadily growing as the match went on. Phinn set up Bennett for a shot in the 42nd minute which was sliced wide of goal, and the sides went into the interval on level terms.

Half time : 0-0

The first opportunity of the second half saw Marc Houston pull his shot a yard wide in the 50th minute, before Glencairn made an enforced change, David Quinn replacing Ross McConville in defence, with Anthony Dempsey moving into the middle beside Roberts.

Phinn pulled an excellent save out of McBain with a curling free kick which was dipping into the top left hand corner until the Tower goalie reached back to tip the ball over the crossbar. The resulting corner almost sneaked into the net at the near post, McBain once again making a good save to punch clear.

The major talking point of the match arrived in the 56th minute. McGuiness slipped a clever pass into the penalty area to Phinn, and his low shot was cleared off the goal line. Bennett fired in the rebound, which was blocked again on the goal line by a defender's arm, before the ball was finally lashed into the net by a Glencairn player. However, the referee had whistled for a penalty kick before the ball was fired over the line, so the goal was disallowed and a penalty kick given. It seemed that the referee had no option under the laws of the game other than to show a red card to the defender for the handball for which the penalty had been given, but he astonished the entire crowd by only showing a yellow to the defender.

Justice was done, however, as Anton Phinn stepped up to decisively drill the ball past McBain from the penalty spot (pictured at top) to give the young Glens a precious 1-0 lead. 

Anton Phinn (u21s) Anton Phinn

Tower tried to respond immediately, and Stephen Kerr's glancing header flew wide on the hour mark. Phinn tried to double his tally in the 64th minute as he drilled a free kick from 20 yards through the defensive wall, but the shot was too straight and McBain saved down low.

The home side went their closest yet in the 66th minute as a diagonal ball over the head of Young picked out Dale Simeon, and his low shot beat Truesdale but rebounded from the outside of the post. Simeon should have done better in the 73rd minute when he was given a free header in front of goal from a cross from the left, but he seemed to take his eye off the ball and missed the ball completely, to the relief of the Glencairn defence.

Tower's best chance of the game arrived a minute later, as Kyle Gallagher robbed the ball off Davidson and ran through on goal. Truesdale got enough of a touch on the ball to slow the momentum of the ball, allowing Roberts to sprint back onto the goal line to hook the ball clear.

Phinn continued to cause a threat at the other end, dancing past four challenges in the 77th minute before being blocked out for another Glencairn corner.

Tower continued to build the pressure, but they were wasteful in the final third, and Savarese's overhead kick attempt flew well off target in the 82nd minute. As the match drew to a close, Glencairn's defence were comforted by the confident presence of Truesdale behind them, as firstly he punched clear through a crowd of players in the 89th minute, and then grabbed a cross out of the night sky in the 92nd minute.

Glencairn held on for the win to make it one victory each and a draw in the three meetings of the teams this season so far. The next meeting of the sides will go a long way to deciding the outcome of the West of Scotland Under 21 Premier League title.

Tower Hearts u21s :- McBain, McCall, Martin, Stephen Kerr, Ryan Kerr, Houston, Gallagher, Simeon, Savarese, Byrne, Hendry. (Subs - Scott, Lone, McKim, Boult, Forrest.)

Rutherglen Glencairn u21s :- Truesdale, Copland, Roberts, McConville (Quinn), Dempsey, Young, McGuiness, Ndlovu, Phinn, Davidson (Strapp), Bennett (Caughey). (Subs not used - McHendry, Chrystal, Dallas, Salah, McCorry.)

Man of the match - (chosen by Joe Pryce) Ryan Bennett.

Ryan Bennett (u21s) Ryan Bennett

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