Super League 1st Division
Sat 12th November , Moor Park, Lanark KO 2pm
LANARK UNITED 1 (0) GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1 (0)
A late goal from Paul McKenzie cancelled out a stunning strike from former Glens’ striker Stuart Tullis to earn Glenafton a share of the points. The home side will rue their failure to convert a number of gilt edge chances to kill off the game and yet bizarrely will count themselves fortunate not to have lost the game at the death as a lack of discipline saw them reduced to 9 men and the woodwork come between the visitors and victory.
A light shower gave way to glorious sunshine at Moor Park as the teams exited from the Lanark-blue dressing rooms and trooped in single file up the steps, cordoned off by a brilliant-white coated brick wall, and on to the lush green grass which at first glance also appeared to have been given a coat of paint by those dedicated people of llanerch(‘a clear space, glade’) that clearly take a great pride in their club.
With top goalscorer Gareth Armstrong unavailable for selection Glenafton started with Gareth Campbell and Ian Cashmore up front while Ryan McChesney partnered Robbie Henderson in the heart of the back four. Meanwhile Lanark, managed by former Glenafton player Tam McDonald, welcomed back new signing and former Glenafton player Stuart Tullis to his second spell at Moor Park.
The tentative start to the match exploded into life on 5 minutes after Glenafton surrendered possession cheaply on the edge of the Lanark box allowing John Renwick to release Tullis like a tornado down the right flank who whizzed the ball across the face of the goal for Chris McDougall only for McChesney to steal the ball as the striker threatened to slam home the opener.
Seven minutes later the home side laid siege to the visitors’ goal with a series of corners kicks. The first repelled by the head of Paul Murphy and the next clawed away by keeper Ally Semple and another headed just wide of target by the impressive McDougall. Allan McCrum was having a fine game for the home side and dictating much of the play. As the pressure mounted McDougall showed McChesney a clean pair of heels in the chase for a long through ball, but the young defender forced him wide and the striker’s shot from a tight angle was pushed round the post by an outstretched Semple. The ensuing short corner kick set up Gary Gow at the edge of the box but his shot was tipped over the bar by Semple.
There was some respite for Glenafton who did carve out the occasional chance or two albeit more by sheer endeavour than by fluent joined up play from box to box. On 16 minutes Andy Bell from the corner of the box fired just wide of keeper Ross Hyslop’s right hand post. Two minutes later Bell was tripped as he tried to breach the Lanark box but as was so often the case Glenafton’s set pieces lacked any potency and imagination. Cashmore did conjure up something special but his overhead kick in a crowded penalty area sailed over Hyslop’s bar.
The game settled into a pattern of end-to-end play but with defences well on top, outjumping their attacking counterparts and winning the vast majority of headers from the host of high balls launched into the respective boxes.
Five minutes from the break and Paul McKenzie mastered the monotony taking the ball to the bye-line for the first time, leaving David Middleton in his wake and taking Jack Marriot out of play as he rolled the ball into the six yard box for Cashmore but in stepped Liam Mushet to clear the danger. H/T Lanark 0 Glens 0
Lanark forced a corner kick within 30 seconds of the restart and Murphy was on hand to head clear, or so it seemed, but again possession was surrendered cheaply and Tullis presented with a one-on-one with Semple, the keeper coming out on top with a superb stop. At the other end Campbell continued to scrap for every ball and won his side a free kick some 25 yards out but although McKenzie’s attempt beat the wall, Hyslop’s handling was sound.
On 57 minutes Semple saved superbly again clutching a close range header from McDougall after a great run and cross from Alan McFadden. A minute later however the keeper had no chance when Stuart Tullis pounced on a loose ball and running across field hit the ball on his stride lobbing it over Semple from 20 yards or so out. His acrobatic celebrations were of similar quality. Soon after Tullis carved out another chance but Semple was glad to see the ball go high and wide of target.
Glenafton responded by bringing on Craig McEwan to replace Kris Mitchell and Lewis Sloan for Ian Cashmore. With Sloan and McKenzie on either flank and Potter and Murphy pushed forward to support Campbell the visitors were beginning to make some in roads with sustained attacks and yet the home side passed up a glorious chance to double their lead on 74 minutes, McFadden’s free header from a few yards out heading skywards.
Sloan was proving a handful down the right-wing and the balls into the box causing panic in the home guard, one in particular headed towards goal forcing Hyslop to cling and swing on his post to escort the ball out for the corner. On 82 minutes Glenafton’s momentum culminated in a goal of class. Murphy with his back to goal (and Middleton at his back) laid the ball off to Potter at the corner of the penalty box, who turned and left Gow at his back before whipping a wonderful ball across the goalmouth that missed the incoming Campbell’s toe by millimetres on its way to the back post where Paul McKenzie arrived in perfect time to crash the ball home.
Both sides went in search of the winner but Lanark’s chances diminished when substitute Chris Seenan (a former trialist at Glenafton) was shown a red card on 85 minutes after McChesney was floored during some jostling as a group of players gathered waiting on a free-kick being fired into the Glens’ box. Two minutes later a Sloan cross was headed across goal by Murphy and the courageous Campbell got his head to the ball before the hands of the airborne Hyslop but the ball crashed off the post and was hooked clear by Renwick. On 90 minutes Lanark were reduced to 9 men after substitute Ross Fletcher received a red card for scything down McKenzie as the visitors mounted another attack. From the free kick Murphy outjumped Middleton and Hyslop was relieved to see the ball slip wide of his far post as he scurried across his goal line. Deep into injury time Mushet was fortunate not to join in his team-mates in the crowded early bath after badly mistiming a tackle on Sloan, the resultant free kick proving to be the last kick of the game. F/T Lanark 1 Glens 1
Glenafton: Semple; Potter, McChesney, Henderson, McKillen (Menzies); Bell, Murphy, Mitchell (McEwan), Bell; Cashmore (Sloan), Campbell. Subs Dunsmuir (gk) Hay
Lanark: Hyslop Renwick Gow Middleton Mushet Cuthill Marriot McCrum McDougall Tullis McFadden Subs McAvoy Collins Walker Docherty Fletcher Seenan
Other scores: Cumbernauld 1 Ardrossan 5, Girvan 2 Kilsyth 4, Hurlford 2 Thorniewood 3, Rutherglen 2 Whitletts 3, Shotts 2 Dalry 1
Kilsyth go top of the league and Glenafton are now second , a point behind and having played a game more.