Saturday 2nd May 2015 - Stagecoach West Region Super League Division One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
This free kick by Keiran Donaghy ended up in the net, but the referee disallowed the goal.
The Glens are the width of a coat of paint away from confirming their Super League status for another season after a 2-2 home draw with Yoker Athletic this afternoon. One more point from the remaining two matches would extinguish any lingering fears of being drawn into the relegation issue. In reality, though, The Glens will be starting next season in the Super Leagues for the seventh season in a row, as four other teams all have to win all of their remaining games, as well as The Glens losing both of theirs, for the Rutherglen side to drop into the bottom four.
Glencairn manager Willie Harvey didn't have his troubles to seek in terms of selection for this match, with six players unavailable for a mixture of injury and the holiday weekend. Jordan Dalzell filled in at right back with Graeme Brown fit enough to take a place on the substitute's bench. Top goal scorer Ross McNeil returned up front in place of the absent Denis McLaughlin, and wingers Kris Irvine and Keiran Donaghy started their first matches for some time, replacing Dean Muir and Ross Ballantyne.
With the visitors' need for the points to aid their relegation battle somewhat more obvious than that of the hosts, it was no surprise that a motivated Yoker side started the game at a good pace and took the game to Glencairn. Yoker's early territorial advantage paid off in the 5th minute as they took the lead. John Harvey fired in a low free kick which JC Hutchison blocked but failed to hold, and David Crerand was on hand to fire into the net from close range.
Yoker kept going forward and, a minute later, Greg Maitland's cross was knocked back by Mark Maxwell into the path of Gary Arbuckle, but the striker's hesitation in shooting gave the home defenders the chance to snuff out the danger.
Glencairn's first serious attempt on goal came in the 7th minute and almost brought an equaliser. Del Esplin's shot broke into the path of McNeil, who turned away from his marker and fired over the crossbar from close range. There was a real let-off for The Glens in the 9th minute when Yoker had the ball in the net again, only to be denied by the assistant referee's offside flag, Crerand volleying into the net after a knock-down by Arbuckle.
A minute later saw more hesitancy in the home rearguard leave Arbuckle with another great chance to score as he rounded Hutchison, but once again he delayed his shot, allowing David Dunnachie to clear to the relief of the home support. Crerand headed wide in the 12th minute after clever work down the left by Gary Bissland and Arbuckle, as Yoker continued to pressurise.
Glencairn finally began to settle into the game as the 15th minute approached, and Yoker no.1 Craig Winslow had to dive low to his left to turn Sean McGuire's deflected shot round the post.
The scores were level from the resulting corner kick. Donaghy's cross saw Dunnachie challenge in the air, and the ball broke to Thomas Kilmartin who fired an angled shot into the roof of the net from close range. The referee seemed strangely hesitant to award the goal as the ball bounced back out of goal quickly, despite everybody in the ground seeing the net bulge. The assistant referee was certain, however, and helped the whistler to award the goal by clearly signalling that the ball had crossed the line.
Two minutes later the referee baffled the crowd by denying Glencairn what had looked like a perfectly good goal. Donaghy's curling free kick (pictured at top) found its way into the net as McNeil challenged for the ball with Winslow, but the whistler blew for a foul on the goalkeeper, with McNeil looking bemused at the decision and the Yoker defenders looking gratefully surprised.
The match had changed now and Glencairn were playing much more positively. McNeil headed over from Dalzell's free kick, and then McNeil tried a fizzer from distance which flew half a yard too high. The 32nd minute saw some real bad luck for The Glens, Donaghy hitting the post with a shot and Kilmartin firing the rebound off the other post with Winslow well beaten by both efforts.
Yoker hadn't threatened much for about 20 minutes, but Harvey was allowed to drive forward in the 34th minute and fire in a shot which flew a yard over the crossbar. Two minutes later Arbuckle was denied again as he shaped to shoot, Dunnachie throwing himself in front of the ball to make an excellent block.
Glencairn took the lead in the 41st minute as the most threatening player on the pitch in the first half got his reward. Thomas Kilmartin took possession on the edge of the penalty before working his way past a couple of challenges, and "Deco" calmly placed the ball past Winslow for his and The Glens' second goal of the afternoon. It was Kilmartin's 10th goal of the season.
Yoker almost sprung the offside trap in the 43rd minute as a lobbed pass picked out Maxwell's run from deep, but the ball fell kindly for Hutchison as the midfielder seemed to misjudge the ball as it dropped. On the stroke of half time a corner from the left picked out Harvey at the back post and he headed over from six yards.
Half time : 2-1 Thomas Kilmartin was on good form all afternoon for Glencairn.
Thomas Kilmartin was on good form all afternoon for Glencairn.
The Glens started the second half well, and good link play between Kilmartin and McNeil ended with a curled shot by Esplin which Winslow saved on the dive to his left. Two minutes later, at the other end, a corner from the left found its way to the free head of Gary Bissland at the back post, but his effort hit the outside of the upright.
Chances continued to come at both ends, McNeil firing wide for Glencairn after controlling a long pass well, and then Maxwell should have hit the target for Yoker after being released by a diagonal pass, but he pulled his shot wide of the far post.
Glencairn made their first change after 53 minutes, McGuire replaced by Graeme Brown who slipped into right back, releasing Dalzell back into his more regular midfield role. Winslow made an excellent save in the 54th minute to keep out a firm dipping shot by Kris Irvine, the goalkeeper tipping the ball over the crossbar at full stretch.
Kris Irvine drives at the Yoker defence early in the second half.
It was Hutchison's turn to make an important save at the other end in the 65th minute as Maitland found himself through on goal, but the Glencairn no.1 made himself big and blocked the shot with his body. The corner once again found a Yoker head at the back post, but once again the effort was off target. Yoker made an immediate change, Andrew Rankin replacing Bissland.
An excellent move involving several Glencairn players in the 68th minute ended with McNeil setting up Esplin for a shot on the drop, Winslow once again saving well down low to his right. A minute later another Yoker corner caused problems, Harvey this time heading against the bar.
Yoker upped the tempo as the match moved into the final 20 minutes, and Glencairn were finding it hard to keep possession and get forward. Yoker's pressure paid off in the 75th minute with an equaliser. A crossfield pass saw the home defence stretched, and three Yoker players were queuing up at the back post. Mark Maxwell took the responsibility and fired his shot on target, and Jordan Dalzell could only deflect the ball into his own net with his attempted clearance.
Under 21 winger Daniel Salah was given his first team debut in place of Irvine as Glencairn tried to change the menu, but the match started to drift quietly towards a share of the points as neither side really threatened to score until stoppage time. Yoker passed up a big chance to claim all three points in the 91st minute, Arbuckle turning inside the penalty area and firing wide from 10 yards.
The referee blew for time after only two minutes extra, and Glencairn were left to wait for just one more result to go their way to officially confirm their league destiny for next season.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison, Dalzell, Boal, Neil, Dunnachie, McGuire (Brown), Irvine (Salah), Esplin, McNeil, Kilmartin, Donaghy. (Subs not used - McCorry, Galloway, Torrance.)
Yoker Athletic :- Winslow, Bailey, Harvey, Dillon, Carson, Frew, Maxwell, Bissland (Rankin), Arbuckle, Crerand, Maitland. (Subs not used - Chang, Jones, McManus, Pearson.)
Man of the match - (chosen by Peter Ferguson) Thomas Kilmartin.