New Coin Automatics West of Scotland Cup Semi-final
Sat 5th May, Loch Park, New Cumnock
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 3 (0)
IRVINE MEADOW 4 (1)
Irvine Meadow proved to be one Premier league scalp too many for Glenafton who had already disposed of Clydebank, Pollok and Beith from the top flight on the way to today’s semi-final at Loch Park. An early goal appeared to put the visitors in the driving seat but the home side were more than a match for Meadow and got their noses in front with two quick goals after the break and threatened to add to that tally as the blue shirts were hemmed into their own half. However, a purple patch yielded three goals in a seven minute spell to put Meadow 4-2 up with just over 10 minutes left and yet still the Glens continued to make a game of it and pulled a goal back in time added on.
With strikers John Dempster and Gareth Armstrong unavailable through injury Glenafton started with former Meadow player John Paul Boyle up front as well as welcoming back Craig McEwan to the starting eleven after a lengthy lay-off. Meanwhile, Meadow gave a place in their starting XI to former Glenafton wing man Simon Eeles.
The visitors got off to a great start when on 3 minutes a Richie Barr shot from close range was pushed away by Ally Semple only for Barr to gather the loose ball and feed Gary Fleming wide on the right to cross to the back post where Stevie Miller soared to bullet home a stunning header.
The home side responded positively and two minutes later Brian Hewitt blocked a shot from Paul McKenzie who then robbed Mark Campbell of the rebound only for Hewitt to dive at the midfielder’s feet and recover the ball; McKenzie’s appeal for foul play and a penalty waved away. Although play was end-to-end chances were thin on the ground. On 17 minutes Craig Potter from the centre circle rolled the ball out to Gareth Campbell on the right who back-heeled it into the path of the overlapping McEwan and after winning the challenge against Robertson he drove to the edge of the box but his shot at goal was well held by Hewitt. Meadow responded immediately with fleet of foot Barr in the thick of things again when he pounced on a headed clearance by Ryan McChesney and fired for goal but a deflection took the ball wide of target.
On 32 minutes McChesney was at the heart of Glenafton’s best chance. Although the equally tall Chris Robertson beat the young defender to head clear a McKenzie corner the ball was instantly returned by McKenzie and this time McChesney won the dual and his header seemed destined for the roof of the net before Hewitt pulled off a fantastic one-handed save to shove the ball over the bar. H/T Glens 0 Meadow 1
An electrifying start to the second half saw the home side strike twice in a four minute spell to take the lead. On 47 minutes Robertson fouled Boyle at the edge of the box and Richie McKillen’s free kick to the back post was miscued by defender Mark McLennan with the ball shooting across the face of the goal to cannon off the base of the other post and Ryan McChesney was first to react and side foot home from three yards out.
Four minutes later a Craig Menzies throw-in was gathered by Boyle and flicked back to McEwan who lobbed it into the box for Gareth Campbell who was bundled to the ground by McLennan and while the Glens’ man claimed in vain for the spot kick Craig Potter gathered the loose ball and slammed it home from the outskirts of the box; the celebrations enhanced in recognition of his first goal for the club.
The Premier side were clearly rattled and Paul Murphy was dictating play for the home side much of which came down the right flank which was proving a fruitful passage to the Meadow box. On 64 minutes Murphy and McKenzie combined to release the overlapping Menzies into the box who then slalomed his way past Campbell and Robertson and into the six yard box only for Hewitt to make another fine block. Four minutes later the keeper came to the rescue rushing from his line to dive at the feet of Gareth Campbell. The Glens continued to push and McKenzie and then Boyle both breached the Meadow box leaving defenders in their wake but unable to finish with shots on target.
On 72 minutes out of the Meadow blue and completely against the run of play the visitors drew level. With his route into the box blocked Frank Gibson opted for a pop and goal and the ball seemed to take a bad bounce in front of Semple before it struck off the inside the keeper’s post and into the net. The sense of disbelief had hardly settled before the visitors struck again two minutes later. Substitute David Hamilton won a header in the box and the ball fell for fellow substitute Paddy Flannery who kept his cool and rolled the ball home out of reach of Semple. Some respite for the Glens came in the form of another couple of free kicks with a McChesney header from one of them whizzing past Hewitt’s post. On 79 minutes Meadow doubled their lead with a third goal in a seven minute spell courtesy of a clinical finish from David Hamilton, volleying home a cross from Gibson with some style. With two minutes to go Meadow nearly added a fifth from a corner-kick but Potter kept his cool at the near post to head the ball off the line.
Fittingly Glenafton had the last say in a game to which they had contributed so much. A free kick was lofted into the Meadow’s box and an almighty scramble ended with Gareth Campbell’s effort bouncing off the chest of the grounded Hewitt and Richie McKillen drilling home the rebound. F/T Glens 3 Meadow 4
Glenafton: Semple; Menzies, McChesney, Henderson, McKillen; McEwan (Cochrane), Murphy, Potter, Campbell; McKenzie, Boyle (Cashmore)
Irvine Meadow: Hewitt, McLennan (Hamilton), N. McGowan, Robertson, Campbell, Miller (Flannery), Eeles, Strain, Barr, Fleming (Ryan), Gibson