Ayrshire Weekly Press Cup Quarter-final
Sat 14th April, Campbell Park, Saltcoats
SALTCOATS VICTORIA 0 (0)
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 4 (2)
Glenafton progressed to their second cup semi-final on successive Saturdays with a 4-0 victory over Saltcoats in the Ayrshire Weekly Press Cup. A Gareth Armstrong brace in the opening 10 minutes and a goal a-piece from Paul McKenzie and John Dempster in the last 15 minutes may tell the story of the goals but gives little insight to the home side’s contribution to the contest.
The visitors started brightly and on two minutes a Gareth Campbell header released John Dempster down the right who launched a ball to the far side of the penalty box for the incoming Gareth Armstrong but the striker’s well struck first time efforts sailed over the bar. Five minutes later Craig McEwan played a perfect one-two with Dempster before making for the bye-line from where his high cross evaded the gallant leap of Warren Gordon and in ghosted Gareth Armstrong to bullet a net-bulging header past keeper Chris Lamb . From the kick-off the Vics went straight up the park and good work by Paul Monan down the right ended with his cut-back into the box being drilled low and hard toward goal by Tam McClelland only for keeper Ally Semple to smother the ball at his near post.
A minute later Robbie Henderson ended another Vics attack and his clearance downfield saw Gareth Armstrong show Greg Paterson a clean pair of heels before lofting the ball over Lamb’s head from 25 yards out. Once again the home side rallied quickly and a neat ball from Sean Quinn played the tricky Lee Munro behind the Glens defence and once again Semple came out on top, pushing the striker’s shot behind for a corner which was eventually scrambled clear. Back came Glenafton with a fine flowing move that took the ball from box to bow and ended with a Paul Murphy shot from 15 yards crashing off the cross bar.
The pattern of end to end play continued but with neither keeper being seriously tested. Mid-way through the half another slick move from the visitors saw Cashmore and Dempster switch the ball across the park from left to right to set up Armstrong in the box but the striker’s header lacked the potency of the one that delivered the opener. Ten minutes later the Seasiders passed up a great chance to halve the deficit. Joe McLauchlan broke down a Glens’ attack at the centre circle and chipped a cute ball to the right corner of the penalty box for Munro who took a great first touch before shooting for goal only for Semple to block, the nippy front man gathered the rebound and avoided the outstretched arm of the ground goalie but his valiant attempt to guide the ball between defenders Ryan McChesney and Richie McKillen was forced clear for a corner. H/T Vics 0 Glens 2
Glenafton made two changes at the break with Craig Menzies coming on for McChesney while Campbell , who had suffered a head-knock late in the half, was replaced by Gus Cochrane who almost made an instant impact but his close range effort went wide of target. Ten minutes later a period of sustained Glenafton pressure culminated with Cashmore firing over the bar from 12 yards out. Saltcoats enjoyed a second wind and had the visitors pegged back winning a couple of corners in the process. With 65 minutes gone McEwan blocked a low drive in the box from Quinn and then Menzies brought a fine run by Jordan Stewart to an end with a tenacious tackle on the bye-line only for the ball to break to Munro but his shot cannoned off the cross-bar.
Five minutes later Glenafton introduced the fresh legs of Paul McKenzie for Ian Cashmore as the Vics continued to press in search of a goal. Half-hearted claims for a penalty after Monan lost his footing in a race for the ball with McKillen were waved away and as the Glens broke upfield Dempster was fouled as he entered the Vics half. McEwan floated the free-kick deep into the box where Armstrong killed the ball on the six yard line and in a flash Paul McKenzie pounced and wheeled to whip the ball home on 74 minutes.
To their credit the Seasiders continued to look to salvage something from the game but the Glens’ defence stood firm conceding a corner kick here and there. Two minutes from time John Dempster’s tireless display was rewarded with a cracking goal. Cochrane from tight on the right touchline picked out the big striker on the six yard line (with his back to goal and Paterson at his back) who then swivelled and lashed a left footed strike into the roof of the net. Fittingly the final whistle went at the conclusion of another Saltcoats corner-kick as the home side refused to give up the ghost. F/T Vics 0 Glens 4
Saltcoats: Lamb; Ford, Gordon, Paterson; Lindsay; Monan, McLauchlan J., Stewart, Quinn; Munro L, McClelland. Subs. McLauchlan c., Gibb, Reid, Walsh
Glenafton: Semple; McEwan, McChesney (Menzies), Henderson, McKillen; Campbell (Cochrane), Potter, Murphy, Cashmore (McKenzie); Armstrong, Dempster Subs. Boyle, Dunsmuir (gk)
Monty Campbell Park
It was a pleasure to meet up with Saltcoats Victoria chairman and Killie legend Raymond Montgomerie at Campbell Park yesterday. Like me, Monty nowadays tries to strike the right balance in following the senior and junior sides he has supported all his days through their respective ups and downs. It is 15 years ago that he lifted the Scottish Cup as Kilmarnock captain and since that glorious day it is fair to say that Killie have enjoyed a fair measure of success including being ever present in the Premier League and of course more recently their defeat of red-hot favourites Celtic in the final of this season’s Scottish Communities League Cup.
Ray is now the Public Relations and Matchday Manager at Rugby Park but with Killie having no fixture yesterday he was at Campbell Park to cheer on the Vics and to help an energetic and welcoming committee and of course took time out to talk to the travelling supporters.
There was little doubt that the Vics were delighted to be back at Campbell Park after three seasons ground sharing with next door neighbours Ardeer Thistle. That scourge of Junior football, mindless vandalism, has been no stranger to the old ground and today a neat row of ‘metal vandal -proof container units’ make up the committee room, tea room, home and away dressing rooms and the referee’s room.
After the game Monty invited the Glenafton players, management and committee to his pub in the town, ‘The Vic’ – of course – for a bite to eat and to watch the Grand National. Here again Monty and me were on common ground wiyh only one horse for us – Killyglen!
Thank you to Ray and all at Campbell Park for a great day.