Stagecoach Super League 1st Division
Sat 20 Aug Loch Park, New Cumnock
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 2 (0)
WHITLETTS VICTORIA 2 (0)
Both sides could reflect on this match and reach the same conclusion, albeit for different reasons, that the outcome was two points dropped rather than one gained as goals and match winning chances fluctuated from end to end in a lively second half.
Glenafton dominated the first half in terms of possession but struggled to convert this into clear-cut chances particularly from the numerous corners won where the resultant kicks seldom caused consternation in the visitors’ ranks. The best chance came as early as the 4th minute when a close range header from Kris Mitchell was just off target; he later tested keeper Steven Douglas with a fierce shot from inside the box. Lewis Sloan was proving a handful and on 20 minutes his well struck half-volley from 10 yards out deflected off a defender and the ball looped over the bar with the keeper rooted to his line. Sadly, 15 minutes later the young midfielder appeared to pull a hamstring and was replaced by Jim Wilson.
The visitors had their moments and although not winning anything close to the corner count of their hosts, the few they did win were certainly delivered with greater potency. Midway through the half for example striker Gareth Armstrong in his corner-defending role outjumped the Vics defender in his corner-attacking role to head clear but the loose ball was drilled goalward by Graham Longair, only to be cleared again by Craig Menzies. Five minutes from the interval Whitletts caught the Glens on the break and Ally Semple did well to narrow the angle and smother a shot from substitute Richie Hanvey. Perhaps, however, of greater concern to the Glens was a knock sustained by Robbie Henderson minutes later. H/T Glens 0 Whitletts 0
The new half was only three minutes old when Henderson retired to be replaced by Richie McKillen and the back four reshuffled accordingly. However the home despondency was diluted two minutes later when Andy Bell played Paul McKenzie into the box and having shielded the dropping ball from his marker the menacing midfielder met it full on the drop and smacked it beyond the diving Douglas into the keeper’s far post. This signalled a period of intense siege-like pressure on the Whitletts’ goal as the Glens got behind their rearguard time and again, chiefly through McKillen on the left and McKenzie on the right. Keeper Douglas was kept busy most notably diving low to his near post to save a Cameron McKinnel header and turning a Craig Potter shot from 15 yards out around the post. However he was caught in no man’s land when a Wilson cut-back picked out Mitchell on the 18 yard line but his missile-like shot cannoned off the post.
On 23 minute the siege was broken, the Vics lowered the draw-bridge, turned defence into attack and Richie Hanvey broke into the box, fending off McKinnell and Potter to beat the advancing Semple from a narrow angle to level the scores. Douglas pulled off a great save from an Armstrong strike as the stunned hosts attempted to regain the upper hand, but the Vics were up for the fight and struck again, some four minutes after their first. A corner kick was headed clear by Andy Bell at the near post and the ball gathered by Marc Cameron who exhibited considerable composure to fire home through a ruck of closely packed bodies. Celebrations were short-lived when three minutes later Elliot Duffy scythed down McKenzie 25 yards from goal. At last a set piece of quality from the home side when Jim Wilson powerfully headed home McKenzie’s vicious free kick. With 5 minutes to go Wilson’s perseverance down the left flank took him beyond defenders to the dead ball line and then he doubled back to feed the run of Potter who was tripped as he entered the Whitletts’ box. Kris Mitchell, one of the successful penalty kick takers in the mid-week shoot out against Girvan, struck the spot kick with conviction and power but Douglas was his match getting two strong hands to the ball. Seconds later a Mitchell header appeared to strike a raised Vics’ hand but half-hearted appeals for another penalty were waved away. In the dying seconds the visitors broke up field and Marc Cameron almost snatched his brace and all three points for his team but his shot from an acute angle rolled inches wide of Semple’s far post. F/T Glens 2 Whitletts 2
Glenafton: Semple; Menzie, McKinnell, Henderson (McKillen), McEwan; Bell, Mitchell, Potter, McKenzie; Sloan (Wilson), Armstrong