Joe Meldrum Trophy
- Saturday 21st July, Loch Park, New Cumnock
Glenafton played host to Neilston Juniors, St Cuthbert Wanderers and Shildon AFC in their annual pre-season Joe Meldrum Trophy tournament. St. Cuthbert’s of the South of Scotland League were making their second visit to the Joe Meldrum having finished runners up in the tournament last season while of course Neilston, now in the West Region Central Division 1, are no strangers to Loch Park having last faced the Glens here in a Super League 1st Division match back in April 2010.
It was an extra special welcome to Shildon of the English North League Division who were visiting Loch Park for the first time, along with an excellent travelling support from County Durham.
This season’s format was a straight knock-out with games of 30 minutes each way.
Semi-Final 1: Glenafton 3 St Cuthbert Wanderers 1
In the opening semi-final the Glens faced St. Cuthbert Wanderers and it was the visitors that took the lead 10 minutes into the second half. New Cumnock lad Ryan Campbell, guesting for the Kirkcudbright side, was quick to react and and force a fine cut-back from the bye-line into the net as keeper Ally Semple dived at his feet.
The hosts were on level terms two minutes later when a John Dempster cross to the back post was headed across the face of goal by Gareth Armstrong for the incoming Paul Murphy only for the helpless covering defender to get the final touch before the ball crossed the line.
Five minutes later trialist Lee McCrae finished off a fine move with an even better finish stroking the ball beyond the reach of the Wanderer’s keeper from 16 yards out.
The Glens added a third goal in a 10 minute spell when Paul McKenzie and John Dempster double-teamed to see off the close attention of three defenders deep in the box before JD picked his moment to lash the ball high into the net and put the holders through to the final.
Glenafton: Semple (Dunsmuir) Menzies, Mitchell G. (Bell), Henderson , McKillen; McKenzie, Murphy, Mitchell D. (Colligan), Campbell (McCrae); McManus (Armstrong), Dempster.
Glenafton v St Cuthbert Wanderers more photos
Semi-Final 2: Neilston Juniors 0 Shildon 2
Sam Garvie proved to be the match winner for Shildon with a goal in each half. The opener came from the penalty spot three minutes before the break and although Neilston had to their chances to draw level the striker’s second secured a place in the final for the County Durham side.
3rd /4th place : Neilston Juniors 3 St Cuthbert Wanderers 1
In a thoroughly entertaining tie Matthew Stevenson put the Farmers’ Boys ahead and when a James Gorman header doubled their lead there seemed no way back for the Wanderers. However Jackson halved the deficit to ensure a fighting finish which concluded with the lively David McCready firing home the goal of the tournament from an acute angle wide on the right touch-line to give Neilston victory.
For the Glenafton support it was great to see Paul Deeney back at Loch Park. He will of course be forever remembered for his stunning headed goal in the 4-3 win over Cumnock in the final of Ayrshire League Cup in 2005/06 at Somerset Park.
Final : Glenafton Athletic 2 Shildon AFC 2 (Glens win 4-2 pens)
Honours had been fairly even in the opening encounters before the Glens began to press and on 12 minutes keeper Keith Finch pulled off a fantastic save to deny Gareth Armstrong putting the finishing touches to a cracking cross from Craig McEwan from the right corner-flag. Shildon soaked up a couple of corner kicks but on 15 minute Scott McManus shielded the ball well before finding Gareth Campbell who showed great determination to ward off two defenders before firing the ball from 15 yards out under the body of Finch who had advanced to the six yard line.
Shildon responded well to the set-back and playing controlled football from the back took the game by the scruff of the neck as they moved the ball from box to box with some style and were level within four minutes. In a flowing move the ball was played from wide on the right to Chris Hughes in the middle and from the brink of the box he rolled it out to Billy Greulich-Smith on the left where the striker drilled the ball low and hard into the net at the far post; some Shildon supporters suggesting it may have been assisted there via a deflection off Ben Wood.
The visitors grew in strength and the Glens goal survived a scare or two before Shildon’s pressure paid off and no doubt of the scorer this time as bulleted a powerful header past Semple from close range three minutes before the break.
Although Shildon started the second half strongly the Glens gradually began to make in-roads and on 35 minutes McManus menaced his way into the box only for Finch to show a safe pair of hands to block the summer-signings shot. Three minutes later the Glens striker threaded a ball into the box for Armstrong but again Finch came out on top as he rushed from his line to parry away the shot, however Shildon failed to clear their lines and the ball some way made its way back to Armstrong and with his back to goal he cutely guided the ball beyond the reach of the flummoxed Finch to draw the sides level.
Both sides had chances to prevent the penalty shoot-out most notably Shildon but Semple pulled off a brilliant save at the feet of Chris Hughes and so to spot kicks.
Glenafton: Semple, McEwan, McChesney, Mitchell G., McKillen; McCrae (Menzies), Murphy, Campbell, Colligan (trialist); Armstrong (Dempster), McManus
- John Dempster fired home the first kick for the Glens and Shildon responded in kind.
- It was advantage to the visitors when an elated Finch got both hands to Paul Murphy’s effort, while Shildon dispatched their kick.
- Craig McEwan made it 2-2 and Semple ensured the scoreline stayed that way with a stunning save from Chris Hughes.
- The Glens edged 3-2 ahead when Gareth Campbell blasted home and retained their advantage when a cheeky attempt to chip the ball over Semple’s head backfired spectacularly and the keeper was left with all the time in the world to comfortably clutch the ball.
- Scott McManus fires his spot-kick into the roof of the net to give the Glens an unassailable lead and Shildon are not required to take their fifth kick.