West Region Super League 1st Division
Monday 4th June , Hannah Park, Shotts
SHOTTS BON ACCORD 3 (2)
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 2 (1)
Glenafton travelled to Hannah Park secure in the knowledge that not only is automatic promotion to the Premier Division already guaranteed but that victory over Scottish Junior Cup winners Shotts Bon Accord would clinch the Super League 1st Division championship. The hosts too , sitting 4th in the league and trailing the New Cumnock side by 10 points but with 4 games in hand, were very much still in the hunt for the title although as yet automatic promotion had to be secured.
With Paul McKenzie serving the second of his two match suspension Glenafton made one change from the team that had defeated East Kilbride to clinch promotion to the Premier Division, Gareth Campbell replacing Gus Cochrane.
Understandably the opening period was a scrappy and nervy affair with both sides surrendering possession cheaply as they struggled to find fluency in their play. Nevertheless, the game quickly settled into a pattern of chances being created at either end. The first flurry of goalmouth activity arrived on 8 minutes when Mark Sideserf whipped the ball across the face of goal from wide on the left only for Richie McKillen to head it clear from the incoming Allan McKenzie and Colin Williamson then fire the loose ball over the bar. Two minutes later at the other end Gareth Campbell’s attempt to pick out John Paul Boyle in the box appeared to have been blocked by the arm of Brian Wharton, but the visitors’ penalty appeals were waved away. Two minutes after that John Dempster wide on the right side-stepped Wharton and left Paul Burns trailing in his wake as he stormed his way into the box heading for goal before rolling the ball back for Campbell but the alert Williamson nicked in to steal the ball as the Glens man prepared to strike.
On 14 minutes the home side won the first corner of the match but keeper Ally Semple was the match of McKenzie punching the ball clear of the striker’s head. Soon after Gareth Armstrong sprung high above Darren Ferguson and his header from 12 yards out forced Craig Brown to dive low to push the ball round the post – the keeper then safely clutching the resultant corner. A minute later a long ball released McKenzie upfield and he has raced into the box Semple simultaneously rushed from his line, only for the back-tracking Ryan McChesney to rob the striker of the ball with a perfectly timed tackle. Six minutes later Craig Menzies lofted the ball over the heads of the Shotts back line into the box for Armstrong to chase but Brown raced from his line to bravely bundle the ball to safety.
Glenafton made the breakthrough on 29 minutes after some excellent play by John Paul Boyle. Forced tight on the right hand touchline by Wharton he twisted and turned and taking advantage of Dempster shielding Burns made his way to the bye-line where he whipped the ball to the far side of the six yard box for Gareth Campbell to bullet a header beyond Brown and over the line despite Paul Finnigan’s best attempt to make a last ditch clearance. The home side’s protests resulted in the referee, who had given the goal, consulting with his assistant who firmly stood by their decision.
Shotts responded well to the set back and forced a couple of corners that were scrambled clear before drawing level on 38 minutes. Sideserf’s route to the bye-line down the left flank was blocked by Menzies so instead he played the ball back to Burns who instantly fired a wicked cross to the back post for Tony Fleming to slam home, the visitors appeal for offside waved away and accepted without fuss. Two minutes later the home side almost got their noses in front when a superb ball from John Boyack picked out McKenzie down the left who lobbed the ball over the head of Semple, the keeper having sprinted to the edge of his box, and both could only look on with contrasting hopes as the ball bounced narrowly wide of the gaping net.
A minute before the break Wharton broke up a Glenafton attack and launched the ball up the park where Alan McKenzie gathered and shielded off the attention of McChesney before coolly lifting the ball high over Semple on his six yard line and into the welcoming net. H/T Shotts 2 Glens 1
Despite the half-time interruption Shotts’ tails were still up and they were first to show after the re-start. Although the free kick won near the corner flag failed to beat Glenafton’s wall the resultant corner caused more of a panic with Dempster winning the first header before Robbie Henderson’s header finally clearing the danger. Five minutes later in the other box Paul Murphy beat Wharton to the ball and his header fell for Armstrong with his back to goal, but the striker’s overhead kick went wide of Brown’s post.
Both sides exchanged half chances before Shotts doubled their lead on 63 minutes when a touch of finesse from Finnigan saw him jink past McKillen to get to the bye-line and send over a stunning cross for Tony Fleming to head home from under the bar at the far post. Six minutes later Semple kept the visitors in the game when he dived full length to push away a Boyack blast from 25 yards and then spring to his feet to prevent substitute Craig Miles from side-footing the rebound home. A minute later an Armstrong looping header from 12 yards out left Brown anxiously looking on as the ball went over his bar.
On the hour mark JP Boyle made way for Bobby Colligan and the change almost paid off immediately. Picking the ball up 25 yards or so from goal his blistering pace left Finnigan and Wharton for dead before he blasted the ball from 8 yards out but Brown, by now on his six yard line, pulled off a stunning save. A minute later Colligan combined with McKillen who floated the ball into a packed penalty box where Gareth Armstrong beat Fleming to the ball and prodded it through a ruck of defenders into the far corner of Brown’s net.
Five minutes later Semple denied substitute Murray Watson and from then on the home front men were content to hold on to the ball while the defence held Glenafton at bay. Deep into time added on Armstrong tried valiantly to convert a head flick into the box by Dempster, but the Glens striker had to overstretch and the ball sailed wide of target. F/T Shotts 3 Glens 2
Shotts: Brown Finnigan Burns Wharton Ferguson Boyack Fleming Williamson McKenzie Scott Sideserf Subs: Miles Watson Jack McStay Sullivan McKenna Murdoch
Glenafton: Semple; Menzies (McEwan), McChesney, Henderson, McKillen; Campbell, Potter, Murphy, Dempster; Boyle (Colligan), Armstrong. Subs Cashmore, Dunsmuir