Saturday 12th March 2016 - McBookie.com West Region Super League Division One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Mark Duffy celebrates firing The Glens into the lead early in the match.
The morale of the Glencairn squad and supporters were given a huge boost as the team earned a thoroughly convincing win away over Yoker Athletic, keeping up their record of never having lost to Yoker at Holm Park since before the turn of the century. The result lifted The Glens up one place in the league table and, although they are still in the relegation zone, they are now remarkably only five points behind fifth place, with half of the league season still to be played.
The Glens were boosted defensively as Andy Neil was available after a three-match suspension which took three months to serve, and Ryan Docherty also returned after a bout of illness. The pair replaced Graeme Brown who missed out with injury, and Kenny Hadden whose loan period with the club has now expired. Otherwise it was "as you were" for the starting team who had come so close to victory last Saturday against Cumbernauld United, including another start for under 21 midfielder Danny Salah, with two other under 21 players on the substitutes' bench.
Glencairn almost made the lightning start to the game that they had made last week as well. Sean McGuire lobbed the ball towards goal in the 2nd minute, and Mark Duffy's back header was palmed away at the near post by home goalkeeper Liam Campbell.
It was a sign of things to come, however, as it took only another two minutes for the deadlock to be broken. Mark Duffy pounced on a slip by the home defence, and he showed good pace and composure before firing a left foot shot past Campbell to make it 1-0, keeping up his record of scoring in all three competitive games he has played for the club.
The forward momentum continued from Glencairn, and another goal looked certain for Duffy when McNab got in behind the defence and squared across goal, but a brilliant sliding challenge by John Harvey somehow denied the big striker right in front of goal.
Yoker's first threat came in the 7th minute, as David Crerand's angled shot from about eighteen and a half yards was parried by Glencairn no.1 JC Hutchison, and Mark Batchelor made an excellent block to deny Ally Graham on the rebound. Docherty showed great composure in defence a couple of minutes later as he trapped Graham's cross from the right and dribbled out of a busy penalty area, with the black and white fans' hearts in their mouths for a few seconds.
Duffy fired the ball into the net for Glencairn again in the 12th minute, but the referee had blown for a foul by McGuire in the build-up and the goal was disallowed. Shaun Kelly pulled a shot wide of goal at the other end shortly afterwards after good link play by Yoker on the edge of the penalty area. A fine defensive block by Docherty denied Graham as he looked to be through on goal in the 15th minute, the big stopper sliding over for a perfectly timed tackle.
McNab was causing concerns on the right wing for the Yoker back line, and his cross almost picked out Duffy again in the 19th minute, but Campbell smothered the ball well at the striker's feet. The same two players combined again in the 23rd minute, though, and this time to better effect as Glencairn doubled their lead. McNab won possession in his own half and then fired a incisive pass through the centre of the defence, where Mark Duffy once again showed good pace and composure before picking his spot in the net, his fourth goal in three matches.
Glencairn looked to capitalise further on their advantage, and they had the ball in the net again in the 27th minute. A free kick was lifted to the back post, where Duffy headed back across to David Dunnachie who fired into the net, but the assistant referee's offside flag was up this time.
The travelling support were only too aware that their team had held a two-goal lead at this point last week as well, but had ultimately failed to win the game, so nobody on the terracing was taking anything for granted at this stage.
Yoker midfielder Gary Bissland was extremely fortunate to only be shown a yellow card after a terrible over-the-ball challenge on Brian Eadie in the 35th minute, which left the Glencairn skipper struggling to continue. Ironically the referee had blown for a foul to Yoker a couple of seconds earlier, so The Glens now had to defend the free kick without one of their central defenders as well, with Eadie requiring to leave the field after his treatment. The free kick was lifted into the centre of the penalty area, where Harvey rose to head the ball into the net. The referee initially appeared to award the goal, but then the goal was disallowed due to what was a very clear push before the ball was headed.
The Glens seemed very keen to take their two-goal lead into the interval, with the memory of the goal that they conceded just before half time last week being a major turning point in that match. Docherty headed out from under his crossbar as Graeme Ramage's corner almost swung into the net.
Just as it seemed the half time whistle was coming, the repeat script theme continued as Yoker scored a lucky goal just before the break. Mark McManus fired in a mis-hit right footed cross, and the ball scuffed off the shin of defender David Dunnachie and flashed past Hutchison at his near post to make it 2-1, and bring Yoker right back into contention.
Half time : 1-2
Mark Batchelor and Sean McGuire set up a first half Glencairn attack.
There were no personnel changes for the re-start, but the Glencairn fans were still talking about the pattern of the game, and were desperate for something to change from last week, fearing a repeat of the outcome.
Glencairn started positively again, with McNab's low corner finding Dunnachie whose shot was deflected back out for another corner. Despite trying to run off the knock, Eadie was still feeling the effects of Bissland's tackle, and he limped off in the 48th minute to be replaced by under 21 defender Josh McCorry, who slipped into right back with Dunnachie moving into the centre.
Docherty made another excellent block in the 52nd minute to deny Bissland's header, and he followed up to make a block to the rebound attempt as well. McCorry tried his luck at the other end for a rare goal with a snap shot in the 57th minute which flew narrowly wide of the target.
McNab's pace on the right was continuing to cause problems as he skipped past Alan Cairns before crossing towards Duffy, and he set up McGuire for a shot which was deflected over the crossbar by the head of home defender Steven Reilly. Cairns was shown a yellow card for a failed attempt to foul McNab as he raced away from him. From the resulting corner, Dunnachie fired in a left-foot shot which was unluckily blocked in front of goal by his team mate Duffy.
Yoker made the first substitution just after the hour mark, with Richard Henry replacing Graham. McNab continued to threaten, and Ramage was next to see yellow for a failed attempt to stop the wide man once again racing down the right wing and threatening.
The 65th minute saw the moment the away fans had been praying for, as the script finally changed. A ball over the top down the right saw McNab threaten once more and, after turning inside his marker, he lifted a cross right onto the head of Mark Batchelor who nodded the ball decisively past Campbell to make it 3-1.
You could see the tension lifting immediately in the Glencairn team and support, as they now believed this was their afternoon and they were going to get all three points. Bissland was by now probably only one more foul away from a second yellow card, and he was sensibly withdrawn by Yoker and replaced by experienced striker Martin Hardie.
Any lingering doubts were removed in the 74th minute as Glencairn increased the lead to 4-1. A lovely passing move ended with Duffy slipping the ball through to Mark Batchelor, whose initial shot was well saved by Campbell, but the midfielder followed up to score on the rebound. It was Batchelor's 7th goal of the season from only 10 starts.
The home side looked beaten now, although Ramage's free kick from the centre circle almost caught out Hutchison as it dropped just wide of the goal, although it didn't look like it was an intentional attempt on goal.
Yoker's final roll of the dice saw Andrew Rankin replace Ramage, but the match was now over as a contest and Glencairn were comfortable with their lead. The clock was run down by a couple of substitutions as Mark Tait replaced Salah, and then Duffy was warmly applauded as he left the field to be replaced by Paddy Cullen.
Hardie should have pulled a goal back for Yoker in the 89th minute as Docherty misjudged the ball, but the big striker snatched at the chance and pulled the ball about 15 yards wide of the target. The referee added only two minutes of stoppage time, despite there having been six substitutions, but nobody was complaining as the outcome had long been decided, and the black and white faithful travelled back along Dumbarton Road in a happy mood.
Glencairn manager Willie Harvey was naturally delighted at the result, but was also keen to keep a control and perspective on things. "It's a welcome win, but it's only one win. We need a few more of them to get us up the table, but the middle of the table is coming back towards us and we still have half a season to play. We were good today, everybody played their part, and we had some good individual performances out there, but it's all about the squad. The spirit in the changing is much better than it was a few weeks ago, and we're keen to keep that going."
Yoker Athletic :- Campbell, Carson, Cairns, Harvey, Reilly, Kelly, Crerand, Ramage (Rankin), Graham (Henry), Bissland (Hardie), McManus. (Subs not used - Sharkey, Jones (gk).)
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison, Dunnachie, Neil, Docherty, Eadie (McCorry), McGuire, McNab, Batchelor, Duffy (Cullen), Alan Muir, Salah (Tait). (Subs not used - Caughey, Mastraszek (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by John Tonner) Mark Duffy.