West Region Super League 1st Division
Saturday 21st April , Loch Park, New Cumnock,
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 2 (2)
LANARK UNITED 1 (0)
The corresponding league fixture between the two sides at Lanark back in November ended in a draw and so too the West of Scotland Cup tie four weeks ago at Loch Park with the home side winning through on a penalty shoot-out. With both teams enjoying decent runs there was little to suggest that today’s meeting would be another close encounter (of the third kind) and so it proved to be.
The Lanark blues began brightly and almost took a six minute lead when Gary Gow whipped a great free kick in to the box but former Glens’ striker Stuart Tullis’ powerful header flashed just wide of target. On ten minutes the Glens, who had now found their feet, after good work by Craig Menzies down the right flank won a throw-in 20 yards from the by-line. A quick throw to Cashmore was returned to Menzies who skipped past Gow and chipped a delicate ball to the outskirts of the six yard box where Paul McKenzie nicked ahead of John Renwick to flick a header home at the far post with the unsighted keeper Derek Barnes caught flat-footed on his line.
Seven minutes later the visitors looked to have drawn level when Tullis picked up a pass in the penalty box ‘D’, turned and thundered the ball for goal, only for it to crash off the base of the post with keeper Ally Semple at full stretch beaten. Jack Marriot pounced and slammed the ball into the empty net, but the flag was up to signal the striker had done so from an offside position. The football, now being played in bright sunshine, was end to end with Tullis and Marriot and their counterparts Ian Cashmore and John Dempster taking it turn to torment their opposition’s defence – with that of Glenafton’s looking that bit more assured.
Midway through the half the home side doubled their lead. A Paul Murphy free kick some 25 yards from goal was spilled by Barnes on his goal line and John Dempster, already on the move to take advantage of such situations, forced the loose ball home from a yard out with the Lanark defence still to breach the six yard box.
With their tails up Glenafton pressed forward and on 28 minutes Dempster and Cochrane combined to get behind the Lanark defence and pick out the incoming Richie McKillen on the edge of the six yard box only for Mushet to make a crucial tackle and clear the danger. Three minutes later Henderson was the match of Mushet with a timely tackle breaking up a fine move between Marriot and Tullis. Back up the park and Barnes redeemed himself by turning a blistering shot from Murphy round the post.
Ten minutes before the break McKenzie, who had failed to shake off the effects of an earlier crunching tackle from behind, hobbled off to be replaced by Bobby Colligan. The heavens opened but Glenafton continued to pour forward and a Dempster went wide then another was well held by Barnes. The final chance of the half fell to Lanark but a two fisted punch by Semple sent the ball clear and safe. H/T Glens 2 Lanark 0
Having had the last word of the first half the visitors had more like the first chapter of the second and pegged Glenafton back deep into their own half. Despite the torrential rain the powerful Tullis was bounding about the pitch leaving defenders slipping and sliding in his wake but more often than not the good work failed to conclude with Semple being tested. Yet, on the hour mark, in their first serious attempt of the half Glenafton looked certain to increase their lead when Cochrane skated into the box leaving Mushet grounded and Renwick at his back but hesistancy in shooting allowed Chris Walker to position himself to block the shot at the expense of a corner.
Lanark responded through Tullis with another run the length of the park that ended with Potter picking his pocket in the box. Work-horse Dempster replied with a surging run of his own that ended less eloquently, Walker and Renwick double-teaming to bring him down before he broke into the box. Barnes now on top his game punched away McKillen’s resultant free-kick and the resultant corner-kick coming to nothing. Conditions underfoot continued to deteriorate but credit to both sides the energy levels were sustained and the end-to-end play continued apace with the visitors shading it in terms of possession and goal threat. Midway through the half Lanark’s perseverance was finally rewarded with a move that began with the defence of a Glenafton corner that saw the impressive Gow find Tullis back deep in his own half. The striker gathered the ball and stormed up the left wing before passing to Alan McFadden who floated the ball into the box and although McKillen beat Marriot to the header Grant Cuthill was on hand to pick up the loose ball and square to Clark Rankin who was quickly robbed by Colligan only for the ball to break for Renwick who wasted no time firing the ball into the six yard box for Jack Marriot to guide it home beyond Ryan McChesney on the line.
Lanark brought on the fresh legs of former Glenafton trialist Chris Seenan and a minute later Semple pushed Marriot’s past the post and then punched the ensuing corner from the head of Walker as the visitors pushed for an equaliser. Back came the Glens and Dempster outjumped Walker to flick the ball on for Cashmore who took a couple of touches before firing from 25 yards out but Barnes did brilliantly to get low and forced the ball wide. Once again a Glenafton corner was the source of a Lanark attack with Tullis flying down the right for a change but on this occasion the home defence eventually cleared the danger, albeit at the third attempt. With 15 minutes to go another Lanark break ended with a Clark Rankin header bouncing of the post with Semple beaten.
The home side replaced the hard working Cashmore with Gareth Campbell and minutes later Colligan set up the substitute but his shot from 20 yards was well held by Barnes in difficult conditions. At the other end Marriot melted a terrific shot at goal but Semple at full stretch touched the ball on to the base of the post to leave the Lanark blues with their hands on their heads. Campbell tested Barnes again from outside the box and again the keeper had his measure. With 5 minutes of regulation time to go Craig McEwan came on for Craig Menzies (a strong contender for man-of-the-match) and he was soon in the thick of things as the Glens forced a couple of corner kicks on the right, neither of which troubled the visitors’ goal.
Two minutes into time added-0n Rankin lofted a free-kick high into a packed penalty box where Semple leapt to punch the ball from Walker’s head only for it to fall kindly for Tullis who lashed it goalward but his effort was blocked by Murphy, initiating a loud appeal for hand ball which was waved away by the referee. At the other end Dempster (another strong contender for man-of-the-match) forced his way down the right and played Colligan into the box who skipped past Renwick and squared the ball for Murphy but his strike from 12 yards out sailed over the bar. With five additional minutes having come and gone Lanark filled the Glens’ box as Barnes launched a final free kick but the home side stood firm and held on for the points. F/T Glens 2 Lanark 1.
Glenafton: Semple; Menzies (McEwan), McChesney, Henderson, McKillen; Potter, Cochrane, Murphy, McKenzie (Colligan); Cashmore (Campbell), Dempster. Subs Boyle, Armstrong, Dunsmuir.
Lanark: Barnes, Renwick, Mushet, Walker, Gow; Rankin, Ronald, Cuthill, McFadden; Marriot, Tullis. Subs Seenan, Docherty, McAvoy, Fletcher, McDougal, Collins, Hyslop.