West Region Super League 1st Division
Sat 17th March , Loch Park, New Cumnock, KO 2:00pm
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1 (0)
RENFREW 2 (1)
Bright sunshine bathed Loch Park as Glenafton threatened to get off to a dazzling start when they caught Renfrew cold in the opening minutes. Gareth Armstrong rolled the ball wide right for Gareth Campbell to gather and in a flash he whipped the ball across the face of the ‘Frew goal where John Paul Boyle, having left Anton Heffron chasing shadows, came within a whisker of tapping in the opener. The visitors didn’t take long to heat up however and on 6 minutes David Gordon picked out Willie Sawyers in the box and the big striker held off Craig Menzies as he made his way to the bye-line from where, as other Glens’ defenders congregated, he cut back the ball into the six yard box and before the cries of hand-ball had subsided Colin Forbes pounced to poke the ball in at keeper Ally Semple’s near post.
Renfrew seized the initiative and moved the ball from box to box with some fine passing play much of which was orchestrated by Scott Upton in the middle of the park. On 15 minutes from the centre circle he released former Glens’ front man Chris Zok wide on the left who teamed up with Gordon to find Forbes in the box who looked certain to slam in his second but for the timely intervention of Paul McKenzie. Two minutes later Forbes turned provider and chipped the ball into the box where Robbie Henderson and Semple combined to stem the threat of Sawyers at the expense of a corner. With 28 minutes on the clock Sawyers rolled the ball back from the edge of the box for Gordon who thundered the ball inches over the bar with Semple at full stretch.
Glenafton had often struggled to clear their lines allowing their opponents to keep them pegged back in their own half for long. Some 30 minutes had passed before they were awarded their first corner kick of the game and although it came to nothing it heralded a period of play that was more balanced in terms of possession and chances. Up the other end Zok went down in the box in a challenge with Henderson but the referee saw nothing untoward. Two minutes later Boyle showed Ross Currie a clean pair of heels as he headed for the ‘Frew box but the backtracking Anton Smith kept his cool and dispossessed the Glens’ striker before he could test goalkeeper Danny McLeay. The home side continued to push but their only reward was a handful of set-pieces that each in turn was found lacking. H/T Glens 0 Renfrew 1
Glenafton replaced defender Craig Potter and midfielder Paul Murphy with attacking midfielder Bobby Colligan and striker John Dempster at the break and changed from a back four to three at the back as they went in search of an equaliser and they nearly found it six minutes into the new half. Gareth Armstrong , lurking with intent at the edge of the ‘D’ of Frew’s penalty box met the ball on the drop and thundered it beyond McLeay who could only stare in hope as it cracked off the junction of post and bar.
Five minutes later a neat one two at the edge of the box finished with Sawyers firing wide of target thanks to Semple rushing off his line. Play was now end to end and Boyle and Armstrong were foiled before Frew broke upfield and Sawyers muscled his way through the heart of the Glens on this occasion Semple could do nothing to prevent the striker picking his spot and doubling the visitors lead on 57 minutes. Three minutes later Sawyers had his head in his hands after placing a free header wide of target from close range.
Back came Glenafton and Boyle tested McLeay from both outside and inside the box the keeper coming out on top on both occasions; the latter at the expense of a corner which the keeper raised above defenders and attackers alike to punch clear with great vigour. On 73 minutes Colligan danced his way down the right flank but his cross for Armstrong in the box was cleared by Heffron straight back to the midfielder – his shot for goal then saved well by McLeay. Three minutes later another burst by Colligan saw him sail past Smith and Currie only to be blocked by Heffron before he entered the box, cried for obstruction waved away. The home side’s pressure paid off in spectacular fashion on 81 minutes when Gareth Campbell killed the ball dead some 30 yard out, took one look up, and blasted the ball into net beyond the diving McLeay, the rigging still bulging as the keeper fell forlornly to the ground.
Glenafton broke forward in waves in search of the equaliser but McLeay showed a safe pair of hands time and again while on 87 minutes Heffron timed his tackle perfectly at the edge of the box as Armstrong threatened in on goal. In the first minute of added on time substitute Andy Bell picked out Colligan who fed Dempster on the 18 yard line and the striker’s volley appeared net bound before McLeay dived low to his left to push the ball round the post for the first of three corners in quick succession for the home side, the last one ending with Armstrong’s acrobatic attempt from 6 yards out drifting over the bar. F/T Glens 1 Renfrew 2
Glenafton: Semple; Potter (Dempster), Menzies, Henderson, McKillen; Campbell, Cochrane (Bell), Murphy (Colligan), McKenzie; Armstrong, Boyle. Subs: McChesney, Cashmore, McEwan, Dunsmuir
Renfrew: McLeay, Nicolson, Smith, Currie, Heffron, Prentice, Forbes, Upton, Sawyers, Zok, Gordon Subs: Maxwell, Crowhurst, Moore, Campbell, Mort, McGregor, Wilson