Saturday 5th August 2017 - Central Sectional League Cup Group 4
(Report by Peter Ferguson) (Pictures by Gerry King)
Michael Hardie fires in a shot on his competitive debut for Glencairn.
Glencairn have work to do if they are to qualify from this season's Central Sectional League Cup group after a disappointing defeat on the opening day of the season away to Vale of Clyde. It was a disjointed performance from The Glens in a match that ended with ten players on each side, and the pressure is now on to get back to winning ways with three matches remaining in the group.
With manager Willie Harvey returning from holiday on the day of the match, assistant Joe Pryce gave competitive debuts to new signings Michael Hardie and Gary Smith, who was partnered up front by Alessandro Savarese. Last season's striker partnership of Fraser Team and Jay McKay were both unavailable due to holiday and work commitments respectively, and new striker signing Graham Boyd was also unavailable due to a niggling ankle problem.
Perhaps the writing was on the wall for Glencairn's fans as possession was conceded cheaply right from the kick off, symptomatic of the scrappy nature of the performance which was to follow. Glencairn worked themselves into a handy position after only a minute as Sean McGuire found Savarese in space on the right edge of the penalty area, but his cross aimed for Smith was way to strong and sailed over the heads of everybody in front of goal.
Vale went close to taking the lead in the 7th minute as a corner from the right wasn't effectively cleared, the ball breaking in front of defender Graeme McLaren who pulled his shot wide of goal from close range. The home side had the ball in the net after 9 minutes as Calum Ridge fired an angled shot under KP McAllister, but the referee disallowed the goal for an earlier foul.
McGuire's forceful run from the edge of his own penalty area in the 11th minute saw some neat passing up to the edge of the Vale box, but Savarese fired his shot on the turn well over the bar. Hardie left his marker lying on the floor with a dip of the shoulder in the 12th minute, but his low cross was cleared from in front of goal before Smith or Savarese could pounce.
The deadlock was broken in the 16th minute as Vale found a way through the Glencairn defence with their 4th corner in succession. A cross from the left was met by the head of Iain Chisholm right in front of goal, and he couldn't miss as he nodded the ball over the line from six yards out.
Vale striker Ridge was shown a yellow card for a sliding tackle in the 25th minute, and he was joined in the referee's notebook a couple of minutes later by team mate Paul Ross for a blatant trip on Tony Fraser.
McAllister did well to palm away Craig Halliday's curling free kick over the wall in the 32nd minute, the first of a number of important saves by the Glencairn goalkeeper. Less than a minute later it was the turn of home goalkeeper Don Scott to save down low from Ryan McArdle's scuffed shot. McArdle's frustration was obvious in the 35th minute as he talked his way into a yellow card after the referee awarded a corner kick to Vale, McArdle adamant that his hard work had earned a goal kick instead. It was a booking that was to come back to haunt the midfielder later in the match.
Vale took full advantage of the referee's controversial award of the corner as they doubled their lead from the resulting cross, Iain Chisholm once again finding space right in front of goal to head into the net. Things could have got worse for Glencairn a couple of minutes later as Halliday worked his way through the defence, but McAllister raced out to make an important block.
Glencairn went close in the 43rd minute as McGuire found space on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot was right down the throat of Scott who parried the ball to safety. The Glens were kept in contention for a second half comeback as Andy Neil cleared off the goal line right on the stroke of half time.
Half time :- 2-0
Njabulo Ndlovu fires in Glencairn's goal on his competitive debut for the club.
Glencairn were unchanged at the interval, but they were grateful to McAllister again in the 48th minute as he palmed away an angled shot after tricky play on the left by Ridge. McAllister was called into action again moments later as he smothered a rather tame long distance free kick.
The Glens were struggling to create anything in the way of clear openings for the two strikers, but Savarese almost pounced in the 52nd minute as he slid in to shoot on a loose ball, but Scott saved comfortably. Glencairn re-shaped the team as Del McNab replaced Smith and Craig Young came on for Jamie Hamilton, and Young was involved quickly as his shot from 25 yards was defelcted wide for a corner kick.
It seemed that there was no way back for Glencairn in the 65th minute as McArdle received his marching orders for a second yellow card offence, tugging back Vale substitute Darren Hogan, and now the task of recovering a two-goal deficit was made doubly difficult with only ten players. Njabulo Ndlovu was brought off the bench to replace McGuire in central midfield in Glencairn's final substitution.
An important sliding challenge by Neil denied Kevin Turner as Vale threatened to increase their lead with Glencairn's ten men pushing on to try to recover the match. The Glens were right back in contention in the 76th minute as they pulled a goal back, Njabulo Ndlovu finding space 25 yards from goal to blast a rising shot into the top left hand corner of the net (pictured above).
The ten men had their tails up now, and McNab's dribble across the 18 yard line created space for himself to shoot in the 78th minute, Scott blocking away the effort with his legs on the goal line. The Glens' hopes were boosted further with eight minutes remaining as Vale were also reduced to ten men, Ridge blatantly and ridiculously kicking the ball away to waste time right under the referee's nose to earn himself the clearest of all yellow cards, his second of the match.
A neat passing move involving McNab and Ndlovu ended with the ball at the feet of Savarese in front of goal, but he tried to pick his spot in the net instead of putting his laces through it, and the tame shot was easily saved by Scott.
The Glens had Vale pinned back as they passed and passed in front of the defence looking for an equaliser, but it was lacking in inspiration and the closest they came was a last-minute curled effort by Hardie which flew a yard high and wide. Vale held on to earn the three points which saw them bounce back from a heavy defeat to Cambuslang Rangers in their opening match.
With Cambuslang also winning their second game in the group to reinforce their position at the top of the table, The Glens now need a win on Wednesday night at home to 2nd placed Blantyre Victoria to bring themselves back into contention for qualification.
Vale of Clyde :- Donald Scott, McGregor, Clarke, McLaren (Hogan), Griffiths, Halliday (Morrison), Chisholm, Ross (Craig Scott), McKay, Ridge, Turner. (Subs not used - Campbell, Maitland.)
Rutherglen Glencairn :- McAllister, McGregor, Neil, Donaldson, Fraser, McGuire (Ndlovu), Hardie, Hamilton (Young), Smith (McNab), Savarese, McArdle. (subs not used - Dempsey, Hall, Baker (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Stuart Brown) KP McAllister.