Rutherglen Glencairn Football Club

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Troon 0 Rutherglen Glencairn 4

Saturday 19th May 2018 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One

(Report by Peter Ferguson)

Troon 4

Gary Smith fires in a trademark free kick for Glencairn's third goal.

The equation was simple prior to kick off. Nothing less than a win would do if Glencairn were to keep alive their hopes of promotion. With big events happening all across the country at the same time, The Glens' players had to focus only on their own job. And oh boy did they deliver !

Glencairn manager Willie Harvey didn't have his troubles to seek in the build-up to the match, with defenders at a premium. Alex Grier and Craig McGregor were the latest to be ruled out due to injury and holiday respectively, joining the already absent Andy Neil and Craig Palmer. There was a boost as sweeper Rhys Donaldson returned after injury alongside the only other recognised defender in the squad in Ryan Kerr. Stewart Hall was drafted into the right side of a makeshift back three, while top scorers Gary Smith and Jay McKay were restored to the team after being rested for last week's cup tie. Sean McGuire also returned in the centre of midfield, with Jordan Leyden dropping to the bench.

It was obvious to see that the Glencairn management team had their players fired up for the occasion. The Glens took the game to their hosts in the early stages, without any creating any clear cut openings, until a corner was forced in the 7th minute. Tony Fraser curled the ball in from the right, and the ball broke out on the edge of the penalty area to Jamie Hamilton who fired in a shot which took a deflection on its way into the net to give the visitors the perfect start.

Jamie Hamilton

Glencairn's brave policy of the last couple of seasons of keeping three players upfield when defending corner kicks paid off, not for the first time, as the lead was doubled in the 12th minute. A defensive clearance released McGuire in the centre of the park, and he produced a perfectly timed pass to spring the offside trap, releasing Gary Smith on the left. The big striker didn't hesitate as he raced through to produce a decisive angled finish into the top right hand corner of the net to put the black and white supporters into sheer delight at 2-0 up.

Gary Smith

Troon didn't know what had hit them, and Glencairn went close again a couple of minutes later as Sean McCall drilled a shot a couple of yards over the crossbar from 20 yards.

The tempo of Glencairn's start eased off for a while as the match moved into it's second quarter, and there were signs of Troon settling into the match. A brilliantly judged defensive challenge by Kerr thwarted home striker Mark Curragh as he looked to pull the trigger in front of goal in the 27th minute. A minute later a free kick from the right saw a breakdown in communication at the back for Glencairn, leaving David Syme with a free header at the back post which he looped up and over the crossbar.

It was only a temporary pause in Glencairn's threat, though, and they soon got back on the front foot as McKay's long throw was head flicked on by Del McNab, the ball flying across goal just too high for Smith to connect in the middle. Clever footwork by McKay moments later saw him skip past two challenges into the penalty area but then loose control of the ball as it ran through to home goalkeeper Ally McInnes.

Glencairn no.1 Jack Baker had very little to do up to this point, but he showed his concentration as he was called on to make a fine save in the 37th minute, tipping Syme's back post header over the crossbar from Steven McCreadie's corner. Another corner just before half time was only partially cleared by The Glens' defence, leaving a chance for Evan Maley to shoot from 25 yards, his effort rising well over the crossbar.

Half time : 0-2

Troon 2 Troon 1

Gary Smith and Del McNab in first half action.

It was vital that The Glens started the second half on the front foot again, and didn't give Troon any hint of backing off or encouragement. The travelling support knew that the game was still far from won, but the nature of the first half performance had installed real confidence into the ranks.

When a free kick was awarded to Glencairn 25 yards from goal just right of centre three minutes after the restart, you could see the looks of anticipation on the faces of the black and white faithful. They had seen this scenario several times this season, and they knew what was coming. Up stepped Gary Smith to hit one of his specials (pictured at top), and the ball swerved and flashed past McInnes before anybody could say "pick that one out". It was Smith's 28th goal of the season, and the players celebrated what looked like being a decisive moment in the match.

Troon 3

Gary Smith is mobbed by his delighted team mates after his brilliant free kick strike.

Troon looked to hit back quickly, but the makeshift Glencairn defence were in no mood for conceding, and Hall made a fine block to deny Dean Fulton before the same player fired a second effort into the side netting.

A long throw from the right in the 58th minute skimmed off two Glencairn players before rolling across goal and out for a corner on the other side, with no Troon player remotely close to getting a touch to convert, but it was a mild let-off for the visitors.

The home side made the first substitution on the hour mark as Paul Murphy, who had been put through a pre-match fitness test, replaced Grant Thorburn. Troon had to push forward now, and that in turn was leaving gaps for Glencairn to exploit on the break. McNab pulled a save out of McInnes with an angled shot in the 62nd minute.

Some fine defensive pressure by Kerr was enough to force Curragh into glancing his header wide of goal in the 63rd minute. Smith was obviously keen to get his hat trick, and he almost created it with a touch of brilliance in the 66th minute. A delightful turn took him away from two markers, but he couldn't get the ball out from under his feet quickly enough and Smith's eventual shot was saved by McInnes low to his left.

The Glens had the ball in the net again a minute later as McGuire released Smith on the right this time, and he rolled the ball into the path of McKay who fired past McInnes, only to be denied by the assistant referee's offside flag.

A swift break by Troon in the 69th minute saw them pass up a good chance to pull a goal back. Morgan Brown's cross from the left was too high for Kerr to head away, leaving Fulton to dive in behind him but head over the crossbar from close range.

Troon's frustration was summed up a minute later as McCreadie fired a speculative left foot shot from distance which flew well wide of the target, and you could clearly hear the home support's lack of belief that their side were going to stage a recovery. Glencairn's back line, superbly marshalled by Donaldson all afternoon, were in no mood for conceding and Hall produced another two important blocks to deny Curragh and keep the back door shut.

Hall found himself in a forward position in the 76th minute as he fed the ball to McKay on the edge of the penalty area, and the striker's stabbed effort was tipped over the bar at full stretch by McInnes. The home side's belief seemed to have disappeared along with that of their supporters and, as the match moved into the final ten minutes The Glens looked to take full advantage. Smith set up McGuire for a shot which was parried and then held on his goal line by McInnes.

Smith was withdrawn with a slight knock with nine minutes remaining, and he was replaced by Liam Gormley. The substitutions continued as Gavin Collins replaced Curragh for Troon, before Glencairn made their second change with Hamilton wrapped up and replaced by Jordan Leyden.

Troon's miserable afternoon was almost complete when McCreadie was shown a red card by the referee in the 86th minute, allegedly for comments made to the officials. The Glens saw their chance to boost their goal difference against the ten men, and they got their reward with a fourth goal in the 87th minute as the two substitutes combined. Leyden intercepted a poor pass out of defence, and he fed the ball to Liam Gormley who clipped the ball past McInnes. It was the 11th goal of the season in 11 starts for "Goal A Game Gormley".

Liam Gormley

The referee brought the match to a close after only a couple of minutes of added time, and the travelling support gathered at the changing rooms to deservedly applaud their team off the park.

The equation is simple now for Glencairn. A win next week in the final league match of the season at home to Irvine Meadow XI would secure at least a place in the play-offs. It is still arithmetically possible for The Glens to finish in the 4th automatic promotion spot, but the "ifs" and "buts" to achieve that would take too many paragraphs to explain.  All the team can do now is get their heads into next week's match, and approach it with the same "will to win" as they did today.

Troon :- McInnes, McCreadie, Thorburn (Murphy), Keenan, Strachan, Brown, Maley, Syme, Curragh (Collins), Chatham, Fulton. (Subs not used - Sherrie, McCure, Phillips.)

Rutherglen Glencairn :- Baker, Hall, Kerr, Donaldson, Fraser, McGuire, McCall, Hamilton (Leyden), Smith (Gormley), McNab, McKay. (Subs not used - Dunnachie, McLellan (gk).)

Joint Man of the match - (chosen by Peter Ferguson) Sean McGuire & Rhys Donaldson.

Sean McGuire Rhys Donaldson

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