Hello Boys We’re Back !

Glenafton return to the Top Flight

After three long seasons in the Super League 1st Division Glenafton Athletic return to the Premier Division.  Promoted as ‘champions’ evokes memories of the formation of the West Region some 10 seasons ago when the Glens, booked their berth in the newly constructed league as the’Last Champions of the Ayrshire’. Can you recall the other 5 Ayrshire sides that joined them? Yes, of course Auchinleck , Cumnock, Irvine Meadow, Kilbirnie and Kilwinning.

Joining them in a new found football fellowship were Central’s ‘six-of-the-best’ …. come on rack those brains. You got it, Pollok and Benburb, Johnstone Burgh, Larkhall Thistle, Maryhill and Neilston. The Glens finished in third place and three points behind the inaugural champions Pollok who pipped Neilston on goal difference. Pollok are one of only two teams that have been ever present in the Premier Division and during that time delivered four titles and five other top-five finishes.  A 10th place finish last season and a play-off win over Renfrew secured their top flight status.

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The other ever-present side is of course Auchinleck Talbot. The Beechwood boys  finished 10th in their first season and with no play-offs back then their Premier  place was secure. After finishing  8th the following they been regular title challengers and delivered  1 x 4th, 4 x 3rd , 1 x 2nd place finishes as well as the championship in 2005/06 to keep the Scottish Junior Cup company.Of the other 11 teams in the league we have shared Premier Division status with Arthurlie (6 seasons), Auchinleck (7), Beith (3), Cumnock (7), Irvine Meadow (3), Kirkintilloch (1), Petershill (3) , Pollok (7) and Shotts (3). This season will see the Glens face both Ashfield and Clydebank in the top flight for the first time, both sides deservedly gaining promotion from the Super 1st two seasons ago with some fantastic football . Tomorrow we host ‘ever-present’ Auchinleck in the opening game of the new season and the following week we travel to ‘ever-present’ Pollok – it’s good to be back!

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Glenafton 12 Muirkirk 0

Ardagh Glass Ayrshire Sectional League Cup

Section 4: Match 5

Wednesday 15th August , Loch Park, New Cumnock

Craig Potter bags a brace

Glenafton, began at a blistering pace and with 3 minutes gone Paul McKenzie unleashed an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box into to the roof of the net and seven minutes later Craig Potter doubled the home side’s advantage after picking spot with a well taken header. On 16 minutes Gareth Campbell limped off to be replaced with a trialist, local lad Ryan Campbell, and the home side were soon back on the front foot – a great run by Craig McEwan ending with a searing shot cracking the bar. John Paul Boyle picked out Potter with a peach of a pass to blast home his brace and put the Glens three-nil.

Bobby Colligan’s destructive pace allowed him to surge into the Muirkirk box and set up John Dempster to swivel and fire home a fourth goal before McKenzie fired in a fierce drive that was neatly guided beyond the keeper’s reach by Richie McKillen for the fifth before the break. H/T Glens 5 Muirkirk 0

The goal spree continued apace after the re-start with the Glens finding the net three times in a ten or so minute spell to build on their lead with Colligan the architect on each occasion. In cruise control the Kirk defence struggled manfully with the wide-man’s pace and in turn he released McKenzie to drill home his second of the night and then set up a quick fire brace for Boyle.

Gareth Armstrong entered the fray and with some clinical finishing helped himself to a hat-trick .The first a low grounder; the second after pouncing on a poor clearance and the third heading home a Colligan cross at the back stick. In the final minute, Dempster played a neat one-two with McKenzie before slotting home the twelfth of the night.  Knowing that a five goal win would secure passage to the knock-out stages the Glens are to be congratulated on going about their business in a professional manner while of course not forgetting the gallant display from the Muirkirk side, and in particular their keeper who made some splendid saves despite the goal avalanche. F/T Glens 12 Muirkirk 0

Glenafton: Semple; McEwan, McChesney, R. Henderson, McKillen; McKenzie, Potter, G.Campbell (R.Campbell); Dempster, Boyle (Armstrong). Subs Henderson, Menzies, D.Henderson

Other scores

Auchinleck 3 Cumnock 0 ; Lugar 0 Kello 7

Ardagh Glass Cup Section 4 table here

Glenafton required to win by a five goal margin to guarantee a place in the knock out stage of the competition irrespective of the outcome of the Auchinleck v Cumnock game. The Talbot won 3-0 and top the section on goal difference and as runners’ up in the section the Glens will travel next Wednesday to face Section 3 Winners Maybole Junior in Quarter Final. The winners will host the winners of Auchinleck v Troon in the sem-final the following Wednesday.

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Kello 1 Glenafton 3

Ardagh Glass Ayrshire Sectional League Cup

Section 4: Match 4

Monday 13th August , Nithside Park, Kirkconnel

Keeper Ally Semple returned from injury and captain Robbie Henderson, Craig McEwan and Gareth Campbell were all in the starting line-up having missed the victory over Auchinleck Talbot on Saturday.

The visitors got off to a flying start and in 7 minutes following a move from box to box Paul McKenzie cut inside as only he can and as only he can slammed the ball home in off the post. The hosts countered with passages of some fine passing movements while Glenafton continued to play at high tempo and on 20 minutes doubled their lead when McKenzie was flattened in the box and Gareth Campbell converted the spot kick. Kello’s neat passing play was rewarded on 28 minutes ending with John Anderson halving the deficit. A minute later John Dempster came close to restoring the New Cumnock side’s two goal cushion but his header smacked off the post. H/T Kello 1 Glens 2

Danny Mitchell

The Rovers saw much more of the ball in the second half but found Ally Semple in splendid form. Glens hit the woodwork again after Danny Mitchell burst into the box  and cracked the upright with a fierce shot.  With 20 minutes to go substitute John Paul Boyle set up Mitchell for another attempt and this time Danny ‘s shot  ripped into the roof of the net for his first Glenafton goal. F/T Kello 1 Glens 3

Glenafton: Semple; McEwan, G.Mitchell, Henderson, McKillen; McKenzie, Potter, D.Mitchell, Campbell; Armstrong (Boyle), Dempster Subs. McChesney, Colligan, Dunsmuir (gk)

Other Scores

Cumnock 3 Lugar 1; Muirkirk 0 Auchinleck 8

Ardagh Cup Section 4 Table

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Glens 1 Auchinleck 0

Ardagh Glass Ayrshire Sectional League Cup

Section 4: Match 3

Saturday 11th August , Loch Park, New Cumnock

GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1 (1)

AUCHINLECK TALBOT 0 (0)

AFTON SWEETER THAN TABLET

Gareth Armstrong’s sweet strike on 39 minutes proved to be all that separated Glenafton and Talbot albeit only in terms of score-line as the New Cumnock side out-thought, out-fought and out-played their opponents for much of the game and could easily have been out of sight long before the final whistle blew.  However, many of the home support are long enough in the tooth and short on nails to know that games against the Talbot are never over until, well they’re over.

Robbie Henderson, Paul Murphy, Gareth Campbell and Scott McManus were unavailable for selection and with Ally Semple still side-lined through injury the Glens once again had trialist Paul McMann between the sticks. On two minutes the former Kilbirnie keeper comfortably clutched a speculative shot by Bryan Young from twenty yards out and thus ended his involvement in the first half other than to boom words of encouragement and instructions to his rock-solid defence.

On 5 minutes Gavin Collins presented the hosts with their first chance after he was short with a square pass to Martin McGoldrick which was intercepted by Gareth Armstrong only for keeper Andy Leishman to rush to his six yard line and smother the Glens’ striker low drive unleashed as he entered the box. Four minutes later Armstrong won a header deep in the Talbot half to nod the ball back for Paul McKenzie who with one look up launched an audacious shot from 30 yards out but again Leishman came out on top as he leaped to get an outstretched arm to fingertip the ball over the bar. Soon after a lob by Armstrong from closer range was well held.

The Glens were predominantly on the front foot thanks to a resilient defence, ably supported by a midfield where Craig Potter steadfastly broke down many of the Talbot attacks allowing Danny Mitchell  to set the Glens on their way up field again. Chances continued to fall and just as the half hour mark passed McKenzie left Gordon Pope for dead wide on right flank and then give Leishman the slip, by now at the corner flag, before hooking the ball into box  where John Dempster’s shot cannoned off Collins and fell kindly into the arms of the Talbot goalie having scrambled back to the edge of his area.

Bo blasts home

Six minutes before the break the home side made the break through. Bobby Colligan gathered the ball wide left in the Talbot box and rather than head for the bye-line he doubled back to leave Kyle Faulds flat-footed and fired a glorious cross over to the back post beyond McGoldrick and Collins, both busy picking up Danny Mitchell, for Dempster to steal in and rise aboon them a’  to  thunder a header goalward only for Leishman to pull of an equally stunning point blank save. Mitchell robbed Collins of the loose ball and rolled it back to Gareth Armstrong who promptly dispatched it beyond the ruck of home and away players and into the haven of the corner of the net. EEKA PEEKA PUKA BO.

Five minutes later Glen Mitchell, outstanding in defence throughout the match, got on the end of a Colligan corner to bullet a header from the penalty spot and although Leishman was rooted to his line Colin Spence executed his duty at the back post and cleared the ball off the line. H/T Glens 1 Talbot 0

The home side started the new half in splendid fashion. Spence attempted to block McKenzie’s direct path into the box forcing the midfielder to cut back and turn the exasperated Talbot man outside-in before laying the ball off to the overlapping Craig Menzies to whip the ball across the face of the goal where Dempster nicked in between Collins and Leishman  to try and force the ball over the line but an alert Willie Lyle kept his cool and blasted the ball from the line and into touch. Five minutes later Armstrong set Colligan free on the left to bomb into the box and then skip past McGoldrick before drilling a low drive from 15 yards which Leishman, on his six yard line, did well to get down and parry the ball away and then bravely dive at the feet of the incoming Dempster .

John Dempster and Gareth Armstrong

Talbot began to enjoy a greater share of possession and in 55 minutes carved out a half chance when McCann was forced to abandon his six yard box to face Kier Milliken on the bye-line who rather than take the keeper on the forward lofted a dangerous ball into the goalmouth for strike partner Michael Reilly but in stepped Richie McKillen to blast the ball clear. Four minutes later McCann mopped up a Talbot corner punching the ball from the head of substitute Craig Pettigrew. At the other end a Glen Mitchell header from a Colligan corner was spilled by Leishman, due to the close attention of Armstrong, but Collins was on hand to clear as Dempster threatened to pounce.

Midway through the half McCann pulled off a great save to push a Young drive from an acute angle over the bar. The resultant corner was cleared comfortably with Ryan McChesney and Glen Mitchell magnificent at the heart of the home defence the pair proving to be an immovable force.

On 73 minutes Gareth Armstrong left to a rousing cheer of appreciation from the home support with John Paul Boyle joining the fray. Two minutes later the magical McKenzie menaced his way down the right and into the Talbot box to whizz the ball across the face of goal leaving Lyle no option but to hoof the ball high and wide past at the expense of a corner. McKenzie‘s kick was met by Glen Mitchell (leaping head, shoulders and knees above the Talbot defence) and although his fantastic header beat Leishman the ball crashed off the underside of the bar and as Boyle tried to poke it over the line post-man Spence once again performed his clear up duties again, with claims a hand may have been used waved away.

Glen Mitchell heads for goal

The game entered a spell of end to end play without either keeper being seriously tested as the heat on the day before the Glorious Twelfth took its toll on the tempo of the game. Talbot ensured that those aforementioned long-in-the-tooth Glenafton supporters were biting what nails they had left into the quick as they looked to snatch a draw at the death.  However, Pettigrew’s header went well wide of target as did Graham Wilson’s free-kick from the edge of the box. Paul McKenzie made way for Craig McEwan in the dying seconds of time added on and left the pitch to a rapturous reception from the home support. In the last action of the game the tireless Dempster painted the Talbot defence into their own corner but there was no time to take the corner and the final whistle heralded sporting handshakes. F/T Glens 1 Talbot 0

Glenafton: McCann; Menzies, McChesney, G. Mitchell, McKillen; McKenzie (McEwan), Potter, D. Mitchell, Colligan; Armstrong (Boyle), Dempster. Subs – Galloway (trialist, Dunsmuir (gk)

Auchinleck: Leishman, Lyle; McGoldrick, Collins, Pope;  Montgomerie, Faulds, Spence, Young; Reilly, Milliken. Subs.  McCann, Pettigrew, Wilson, Robb

more photos here

Other Section 4 Scores

Kello 2 Cumnock 3; Muirkirk 2 Lugar 2

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Lugar 0 Glenafton 4

Ardagh Glass Ayrshire Sectional League Cup

Section 4: Match 2

Wednesday 8th August , Rosebank Park, Lugar

LUGAR BOSWELL THISTLE 0 (0)

GLENAFTON ATHLETIC  4 (1)

Goalkeeper Ally Semple was rested after a reaction in the Cumnock game to a bad knee injury sustained in training a few weeks back. Glenafton introduced a trialist in his place while captain Robbie Henderson, Paul Murphy, Gareth Campbell and summer signing Scott McManus were unavailable for selection.

With Rosebank bathed in early evening sunshine a place on the Glenboig brick terracing in the shade of the far side fir trees made for easier viewing . The same could not be said for the early exchanges as both sides struggled to retain the ball long enough to construct any meaningful attacks. Although the visitors were leading on possession the hosts created the first serious chance on 13 minutes when the flight of  a looping header deep inside the box was lost in the sunshine by the Glens’ goalie and landed at the back post but he recovered well to block the incoming ‘Jaggy bunnett‘ from bursting the net. A near post header from the resultant corner flashed past the other post and minutes later another home corner was punched clear to safety as Lugar looked for the opener

Glenafton responded well and both John Paul Boyle and Paul McKenzie had snap shots in a two minute spell – keeper Alastair McInnes turning the first one behind for a corner and the latter whizzing over the bar. On 29 minutes a quickly taken free kick caught the Boswell defence napping and although McInnes made a splendid effort he was a fingertip short of stopping a low drilled shot from John Dempster finding the net.

John Dempster’s strike sneaks in at the corner

Three minutes later McKenzie whipped in a vicious cross from tight on the right touchline and although Bobby Colligan bombed into the box to meet the ball brilliantly first time his effort sailed over the bar. Five minutes from half- time Boyle was the provider from the right and Dempster the recipient but McInnes the winner with a courageous block. The keeper then showed a safe pair of hands to clutch a Richie McKillen shot from under the bar as the Glens pushed to put some daylight between them and their hosts as the shadows lengthened and stretched long and sharp across the park. H/T Lugar 0 Glens 1

Within seconds of the re-start Lugar forced a corner kick causing panic in the Afton box but again the chance went abegging.  Straight up the park in lightning speed and Colligan,  Boyle and Craig Menzies combined to set up a McKenzie header only for McInnes to get a long outstretched arm to the ball and then show the presence of mind to mop up the loose ball from a posse of Glenafton forwards. Four minutes later the keeper narrowed the angle perfectly to get hand to a Colligan shot and push it out for a corner.  On 53 minutes McKenzie launched a peach of a ball for Dempster to gather and force his way into the box but his path to goal was well defended.   Three minutes later a Lugar free kick from just outside the box beat the wall on its way wide of the post – a timely reminder for the visitors that only a goal separated the sides.

John Paul Boyle made way for Gareth Armstrong and Craig Potter came on for Craig McEwan while in between times Lugar created and contrived to miss a glorious chance to draw level – the offender in the proverbial acres of space electing to shoot early, but once again without testing the keeper as the ball trundled wide of target. On 72 minutes the Glens doubled their tally and their lead when a McKenzie corner was bulleted home courtesy of a Glen Mitchell header that was as straight and immaculate as the nearby Park Terrace row. Two minutes later his brother Danny’s header from a McKenzie corner battered off the bar with McInnes beaten.

Glen’s goal for Glens

Still Boswell battled on but another corner came to nothing as the visitors’ defence stood firm and another Glens’ attack initiated. With four minutes to go Menzies marauded down the right flank and cut the ball back into the centre of the box from where Danny Mitchell sent it on its way to an unmarked Gareth Armstrong  lurking at the corner of the six yard box and in a flash the ball was bulging the Boswell net.

Bo blasts home

Four minutes later McKenzie menaced his way into the right hand side of the Lugar box and spotting Armstrong on the left hand side lofted the ball to the back post for Bo to ghost in and head home Glenfton’s fourth. In time added on man-of-the-match McInnes rushed from his line to deny the Glenafton striker his hat-trick. F/T Lugar 0 Glens 4

Taz spots Bo for the fourth

Glenafton: Trialist; Menzies, McChesney, G. Mitchell, McKillen; Colligan, McEwan (Potter), D.Mitchell, McKenzie; Dempster, Boyle (Armstrong). Sub Dunsmuir

more photos here

Other Section 4 scores

Cumnock 3 Muirkirk 0; Kello 2 Talbot 5

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Glens 0 Cumnock 3

Ardagh Glass Ayrshire Sectional League Cup

Section 4: Match 1

Monday 6th August , Loch Park, New Cumnock

GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 0 (0)

CUMNOCK JUNIORS 3 (1)

Having sailed through Section 4 last season with 5 wins and one draw the Glens kicked off this season Ardagh Cup campaign with a disappointing defeat at home to neighbours Cumnock.

John Bradford and Paul McKenzie

The home side made the early running but with the game less than 10 minutes old Jim  Gibson, Cumnock’s most recent signing, standing by himself fell to the ground in some discomfort. The game had to be delayed as the player was stretchered off and taken to hospital with the news later that he had suffered cruciate ligament damage.

The match re-started and the Glens continued to push and enjoy the bulk of possession and the pick of the chances . A Paul McKenzie drive from outside the box was well blocked by former Glens’ keeper and then former Cumnock midfielder Gareth Campbell rattled the bar from 25 yards out while a minute later a Danny Mitchell header went just wide of target. Former Glens’ captain Willie Howie finally succumbed to a niggling injury to be replaced by James Tyler, who quickly made his mark on the game. His dash down the left in ‘injury time’ proved to be the source of the opener the ball finding its way to former Arthurlie and Girvan striker John Bradford to nick the ball home from close range. H/T Glens 0 Cumnock 1 

The visitors doubled their lead in double-quick time with Tyler the architect again two minutes into the new half setting up Michael O’Connor, another summer signing from Girvan, who rattled the ball through a ruck of players and into the home net. Momentum was now well and truly with Cumnock as they sought to add to their tally and a third came on 65 minutes courtesy of the head of substitute Richie Hanvey , close season signing from Whitletts Vics. There was no way back for the frustrated home side and a slip in discipline heralded a flurry of yellow cards –  Robbie Henderson, Gareth Campbell, Craig Potter and Paul McKenzie the recipients before the game settled back down and Cumnock close it out, comfortable winners in the end. F/T Glens 0 Cumnock 3

Glenafton: Semple; Menzies, G. Mitchell, Henderson, McKillen; McKenzie, Potter, D.Mitchell, G. Campbell;  Dempster, Armstrong. Subs – McManus, McEwan, Colligan, Boyle & McChesney

Cumnock – Fahey, Smith, Gibson, Robertson, Lundie, MacDonald, Johnston, Howie, Bradford, McInnes, O’Connor. Subs –  Tyler, Wallace, Hanvey, O’Donnal, Hamill.

Glenafton send their best wishes to Jim Gibson.

Other Section 4 scores

Auchinleck 4 Lugar 0; Muirkirk 0 Kello 8

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Glenafton 4 Wishaw 2

Pre-season Friendly

Saturday 4th August , Loch Park, New Cumnock

GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 4 (3)

WISHAW JUNIORS 2 (1)

Gareth Campbell

The game kicked off in brilliant sunshine and Gareth Campbell rattled the post after two minutes before John McStay punished some slack play in the home ranks and fired the visitors in front. Glenafton were level on ten minutes when Danny Mitchell and Bobby Colligan combined to set up Gareth Campbell who guided his header beyond the reach of keeper Sandy Thomson and then took the lead after a Campbell daisy-cutter found the net. Two minutes before the break Glen Mitchell met a Colligan corner to double the Glens lead with a perfectly placed header. Ten minutes after the re-start Gareth Armstrong conjured up some magic in the box with a finale of lobbing the helpless Thomson. As mini-tornadoes swept through Ayrshire the heaven’s opened above Loch Park nevertheless midway through the half Nicky Moore kept his composure to pull one back for the visitors.

Glenafton: Dunsmuir  McEwan Trialist G. Mitchell   Henderson  D. Mitchell  McKenzie Murphy  Boyle   Colligan  Campbell. Second half subs all used Dempster,  Menzies, McManus,  McKillen, Potter,  Armstrong ,McChesney.

Wishaw: Sandy Thomson  John Cuddihy  Stuart Little  Chris McIntyre   John McFarlane  David Hamilton  Mark Hamilton  John McStay  Nicky Moore Jason Lafferty  subs  James Main  Robert Boyle  Chris Flannery  Ryan Mackie

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Kilbirnie 3 Glenafton 1

Pre-season Friendly

Wednesday 1st August , Valefield, Kilbirnie

KILBIRNIE LADESIDE 3 (2)

GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1 (1)

Ladeside came close to taking the lead within twenty seconds of kick-off when former Rutherglen Glencairn striker Mark McAlpine caught the Glens cold only for his shot from close range, as well as a tight angle, to be well held by keeper Ryan Dunsmuir. The hosts continued to press and were moving the ball across the bowling green of a playing surface  with impressive pace and accuracy in equal measure. Six minutes gone and a Glenafton move down the right flank was halted at the half-way line and in the blink of the eye the ball moved diagonally, via two or perhaps three Blasties, to Josh Mullen on the far side of the visitors’ box, the former Pollok amateur showing great composure to lash the ball low and hard into the far corner of the net. The rain now lashed down just as hard from the thick vale of cloud that hung over Valefield but still Kilbirnie continued to played with some panache. Nevertheless the Glens began to enjoy a greater share of possession and forced a number of corner kicks each of which were manfully defended. However with five minutes of the half remaining a set piece finally paid dividends when John Dempster headed home a Gareth Campbell free-kick, whipped in from the left deep into the Blasties box.

Brolly good from John Dempster

In what effectively was the last kick of the half Mark Archdeacon capitalised on adefensive misunderstanding at the edge of the Glens’ box and kept his cool to loft the ball into the gaping net. H/T Ladeside 2 Glens 1

John Dempster and Shaun Dillon

Twenty minutes into the new half the Ladeside goal went unpunished after keeper Willie Spence lost the ball at the edge of the box but then aided and abetted with his defenders managed to scurry back and scramble the ball to safety. A minute later the keeper kept his nerve and raced from his line to steal the ball from the feet of John Paul Boyle.  On the hour mark Archdeacon bagged his brace rifling home an unstoppable shot after Shaun Dillon’s header from a corner kick had been cleared off the line. Seven minutes later Scott McManus came close to halving the deficit by dancing past a host of Ladeside defenders in the box before deftly trying to place his hot beyond the reach of Spence only for the keeper to brilliantly parry the ball and his defender mop up the danger on the rain-soaked pitch. With honours even in the closing period the home side held on for a well deserved win. F/T Ladeside 3 Glens 1

Glenafton: Dunsmuir; Menzies, McChesney, Mitchell G., McKillen (McEwan); McKenzie, Mitchell D., Campbell, trialist; Dempster (Colligan), Armstrong (Boyle)

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Glens 0 Hurlford Thistle 2

Loch Park, Monday 30th July Friendly

Glenafton Athletic 0 Hurlford Thistle 2

The Scottish Amateur Cup winners took an early lead and although the Glens struck the woodwork on three occasions a hard working Hurlford doubled their tally to ensure a well-deserved win.

Glenafton: Dunsmuir  Menzies  McEwan  McChesney  McKillen  Dempster  McKenzie  Potter  Colligan  Armstrong  Bell  sub used McManus  not used R Campbell. Naismith  Quinn .

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Troon turnaround to triumph

Glenafton hosted Kello Rovers and Troon in the pre-season Challenge Cup at Loch Park in a round robin format of games of half an hour each way. The Glens were without Gareth Armstrong, Gareth Campbell and Ally Semple all through injury (the keeper requiring nine stitches to a knee sustained at midweek training) while new signing Danny Mitchell was on holiday. As in the Joe Meldrum Trophy last week former Glenafton player Andy Bell guested for the hosts.

Game 1: Glenafton 0 Kello Rovers 0

Newly promoted Kello Rovers, looking forward to their first season in the Super League 1st Division, created the lion’s share of the chances in the opening half. Former Glens’ players Alan Middleton and Jim Wilson both tested Ryan Dunsmuir from distance however the young keeper showing a safe pair of hands to deny each attempt. Glenafton’s best attempt was created by Bobby Colligan when a burst of speed took him deep into the Kello box but his blast at goal battered off the post.

The home side featured more prominently as an attacking force after the break but were thwarted by some stunning saves from Lugar keeper Ronnie Davis – the pick of them a point blank stop from a Scott McManus drive after an excellent run took him to the corner of the six yard box. Despite their second half superiority the hosts were almost undone at the death when a Jim Wilson header skimmed over Dunsmuir’s bar.

Glenafton: Dunsmuir, Bell (Menzies) McChesney, Mitchell G.(Henderson), McKillen; Colligan, Murphy, Potter, McKenzie; Dempster (McManus), Boyle

Game 2: Troon 4 Kello Rovers 2

Rovers, who pipped Troon by 2 points to promotion from the Ayrshire District League last season, raced to an early lead when former Glens’ player Steven Shankland rounded the keeper with some finesse to stroke the ball home. Two minutes later the sides were level as Gareth Armstrong was on hand to finish off a fine passing move and guide the ball over the line at the back post.  Midway through the half former Talbot striker David Gillies, another summer signing, put the Portland parkers ahead drilling the ball low and hard into the corner of the net. Seven minutes later it was all square as Dean Keenan’s tackle on Steven Shankland at the edge of the box ended with the ball looping high in the air and over the head of the stranded keeper and into the gaping net.

Steven Shankland sees off  Dean Keenan to score

Honours were even in the opening encounters of the second half before Troon took control of the game. Midway through the half Dale Moore, former Glens Boys Club player, was unfortunate to see his exquisite effort to lob keeper Daviis skim off the outside of the post. Agony transformed to ecstasy five minutes when he skipped his way to the bye-line and cut back for David Gillies to fire an unstoppable shot home from seven yards out.

Dale Moore watches David Gillies drill home

In what effectively was the last kick of the game Scott Chatham fired home a free kick for Troon much to the surprise of the host of players gathered in the box preparing to challenge for his incoming cross.

Game 3: Troon 2 Glenafton Athletic 2

Glenafton dominated the first half and will consider the game could have been over as a contest before the break. Early pressure paid off with the award of a penalty on ten minutes after a Paul McKenzie run was halted by a blatant tug on his shirt which also saw the culprit sent off.  Sportingly Glens’ manager Darren Henderson intervened to plea for leniency and although there was to be no reprieve for the offender  Troon were allowed to bring on a replacement, former Afton lad Cammy McKinnell. Back to the football and Scott McManus slammed home the spot-kick to put the Glens ahead. Three minutes later he doubled the hosts’ lead after meeting a McKenzie corner kick at the far end of the six yard box with a perfectly placed header that looped over the keeper’s reach and into the postage stamp at the other end of the goal.

Scott’s header sails home

Two minutes later a Paul Murphy free-kick cannoned off the wall before bouncing off  the post but McManus’ attempt to slot home the rebound for his hat-trick was well blocked by the keeper. A minute later the keeper rushed from his line to take the ball from the feet of Bobby Colligan as he burst into the box after showing the Troon defence a clean pair of heels some thirty yards from goal. Some respite for Troon as  Moore fired from distance but Dunsmuir had it covered as it zoomed just wide of target. Back came the Glens through Craig Menzies who stormed down the right flank to the bye-line but his cut-back just failed to connect with John Dempster in the box. McKenzie tried the other flank, dancing past Troon defenders to lay the ball off to  Dempster only for his effort from four yards out to be held by the keeper.

Just before the break a shell-shocked Troon began to show signs of recovery. A ball bombed over the top of the Glens back line forced Dunsmuir to race to edge of his box to face the incoming Armstrong and although he could do little to stop the midfielder squaring the ball into box there were no Troon takers and the danger passed momentarily. Soon after Dunsmuir, at full stretch, got both hands to a Keenan free-kick and Keenan’s header from the resultant corner-kick went inches wide, as did McKenzie’s header at the other end in the last chance of the half. Indeed it proved to be the midfielder’s last chance as he hobbled to the dressing room at the break.

A determined run deep into the Troon box by McManus deserved more as the striker tried to find the postage stamp again but his shot sailed inches wide with the keeper beaten.  Any suggestion that the half was to be a mirror image of the first were quickly dispelled five minutes after the restart. A perfectly executed one-two saw Scott Chatham steal behind the Glens defence and drill the ball home from an acute angle. The visitors seized the initiative and pegged the Glens back for long periods without creating any clear-chances as they pushed for an equaliser. Similarly,  when the Glens forced their way upfield it was with much less menace than they had shown in the first half and there was little promise of a third and killer goal.

The Moore the merrier

As energy levels sapped throughout both sides Dale Moore had still some in reserve and with two minutes to go he was first to react to challenge for the loose ball emerging from a goal mouth scramble and spring in the air to head home and secure the draw.

Glenafton : Dunsmuir; Mitchell G, McChesney, Henderson, Menzies; Trialist, Potter, Murphy, Colligan; McManus, Dempster.

Congratulations to Troon on winning the Challenge Cup.

More photos here

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