Saturday 12th May 2018 - Central League Cup Round Three
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Liam Gormley starts one of many Glencairn attacks during the match.
Glencairn eased into the quarter finals of the Central League Cup with a comfortable 4-0 away win over Vale of Clyde at Fullarton Park. It was a good afternoon for The Glens all round, as manager Willie Harvey was able to rest several important players ahead of the two remaining league matches, but was also able to bring two more important players back into the action after recent injuries.
There were three changes to the starting line-up from the midweek defeat away to Irvine Meadow. Liam Gormley returned after a rib injury to replace top scorer Gary Smith, while Sean McCall came into the midfield in place of striker Jay McKay, with Del McNab moved up front alongside Gormley. The other change saw Jordan Leyden return after an ankle injury, with Sean McGuire given a well deserved rest.
Leyden set the tone for Glencairn with the first attempt on target in the 2nd minute, drilling in a low shot which was well saved by Vale goalkeeper Andrew Keir. Leyden went close again in the 7th minute as his looping header seemed to deceive Keir but rebounded from the crossbar.
Given their positive start to the game, it was no surprise when The Glens broke the deadlock in the 11th minute. Stewart Hall skinned his marker on the left and squared across goal into the path of Del McNab who flicked the ball past Keir to make it 1-0 to Glencairn.
Vale just couldn't get up the park and Glencairn kept coming at them, McCall firing a shot on the turn across goal and wide in the 17th minute, before the lead was doubled in the 20th minute. Jamie Hamilton released McNab down the right, and he cut past defender Lee Morrison before rolling the ball into the path of Liam Gormley, who took a touch before firing high into the net from close range.
Hamilton fired over from 22 yards before Gormley set up Hall for a shot which was saved by Keir. The one-way traffic continued towards Vale's goal as Gormley fired an angled shot narrowly over in the 27th minute.
The home side finally managed to get some breathing space and a chance of their own in the 28th minute as Conor McGregor pulled a shot wide of goal from 20 yards, and moments later a shot from distance by Kevin Turner flew a yard wide of goal without troubling Glens' goalkeeper Scott McLellan.
That was only a brief respite for the hard-worked home defence, and they were back in trouble again in the 35th minute as Glencairn made it 3-0. Hall fed Gormley on the left and he got to the bye-line before picking out Del McNab in the centre, and he fired a first time finish into the corner of the net.
Craig McGregor strides out of defence to set up another Glencairn attack.
Vale were forced into an immediate substitution as defender Lee Morrison limped off to be replaced by Chris Campbell. Several Glencairn players fancied getting on the scoresheet as Ryan Kerr and Hamilton both fired shots off target from around 25 yards. The ball was in the net again as Leyden's shot was fumbled by Keir and Gormley forced the ball over the line, but the strike was chalked off for offside.
A brief flurry before the interval by Vale saw John McCue mis-time his shot and slice it wide of goal, before McLellan used his legs on the goal line to deny Alan Clark's swerving shot from outside the penalty area. Vale thought they had pulled a goal back seconds before the half time whistle as Turner rose to head on target, but Tony Fraser popped up on the line to head clear.
Half time : 0-3
Jamie Hamilton was at the heart of many of Glencairn's attacking moves.
Vale came out for the second half hoping to make the match more of an even contest, and they were first to go close as former Glencairn midfielder Njabulo Ndlovu looped a header onto the roof of the net in the 46th minute. The Glens went straight to the other end and Leyden's shot had Keir beaten but slipped narrowly wide of the target.
A powerful run by Ndlovu saw him break free on the left in the 49th minute, and he set up Clark for a shot which was wastefully fired over the crossbar from 16 yards. Five minutes later at the other end a surging run by McCall saw the ball break back into his path for a shot, but it seemed to take him by surprise and the chance was wasted.
The persistence of the first half attacks had gone out of Glencairn's play now as they seemed to be happy to protect themselves ahead of the big league matches ahead, and Vale started to get more opportunities. Clark was given space to turn and shoot inside the penalty area but was denied by a brilliant defensive block by Alex Grier in the 55th minute. The resulting corner was met by a diving header by Conor McGregor which flew over the crossbar.
Jamie Hamilton in second half action against former Glens midfielder Njabulo Ndlovu.
Campbell's angled shot in the 59th minute was straight at McLellan, before Glencairn made their first substitution just after the hour mark. Gary Smith was brought off the bench to replace Hall, with McNab moved to the left flank and Smith joining Gormley in attack.
A poor kick out by Keir went straight to Gormley in the 62nd minute, and he tried to lob the ball over the 'keeper and into the net, but Keir reached up to grab the ball and save his blushes. The whole stadium wondered why Turner wasn't whistled for offside in the 65th minute, but McLellan made a fine block before Clark drilled the loose ball off the crossbar, summing up a frustrating afternoon for the home side.
Vale's second change saw Scott McClure replace Chris Byrne in the 69th minute, and three minutes later Sean McGuire replaced the tiring Leyden in central midfield for Glencairn. Vale's final change took place at the same time as Thomas Bradley came on for Sean McLaughlan.
The lead was increased to 4-0 in the 73rd minute, and it was a disaster for Keir. A firm shot from 20 yards by Smith was fumbled by the home no.1 and the ball dropped in behind him, Liam Gormley being the first to react to score the easiest goal of his career. It was Gormley's 10th strike of the season in only 11 starting appearances.
It was now a matter of whether Glencairn would increase their lead as the match moved into its closing stages. A trademark free kick by Smith hit the target of the postage stamp corner, but Keir got over to clutch it out of the air just in time. Campbell tried his luck with Vale's own free kick in the 82nd minute, but the shot was always rising and didn't test McLellan.
A delightful near post flick by Smith almost got him on the score sheet in the 86th minute, the ball flashing inches over the crossbar. Grier was forced off with a strain with two minutes left, and he was replaced by striker Jay McKay with Fraser dropping into the defence. Smith went close again in the 90th minute as he head flicked McKay's long throw onto the face of the bar.
The match ended in bizarre fashion as the referee blew for full time as Vale almost scored, Turner's back post header bouncing in front of goal as the referee blew his whistle without waiting to see if the ball went into the net or not. The ball flashed wide of the far post, but the match had already ended and The Glens moved safely into the quarter final where they will be at home to either Pollok or Wishaw Juniors.
Vale of Clyde :- Keir, McLaughlan (Bradley), Morrison (Campbell), Chisholm, Ross, Byrne (McClure), McGregor, Ndlovu, Clark, Turner, McCue.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- McLellan, Kerr, McGregor, Grier (McKay), Fraser, Hamilton, McCall, Leyden (McGuire), Gormley, McNab, Hall (Smith). (Subs not used - Donaldson, Baker (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Donnie Nicol) Alex Grier.