Ardagh Glass Ayrshire Sectional League Cup
Section 4: Match 3
Saturday 11th August , Loch Park, New Cumnock
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1 (1)
AUCHINLECK TALBOT 0 (0)
AFTON SWEETER THAN TABLET
Gareth Armstrong’s sweet strike on 39 minutes proved to be all that separated Glenafton and Talbot albeit only in terms of score-line as the New Cumnock side out-thought, out-fought and out-played their opponents for much of the game and could easily have been out of sight long before the final whistle blew. However, many of the home support are long enough in the tooth and short on nails to know that games against the Talbot are never over until, well they’re over.
Robbie Henderson, Paul Murphy, Gareth Campbell and Scott McManus were unavailable for selection and with Ally Semple still side-lined through injury the Glens once again had trialist Paul McMann between the sticks. On two minutes the former Kilbirnie keeper comfortably clutched a speculative shot by Bryan Young from twenty yards out and thus ended his involvement in the first half other than to boom words of encouragement and instructions to his rock-solid defence.
On 5 minutes Gavin Collins presented the hosts with their first chance after he was short with a square pass to Martin McGoldrick which was intercepted by Gareth Armstrong only for keeper Andy Leishman to rush to his six yard line and smother the Glens’ striker low drive unleashed as he entered the box. Four minutes later Armstrong won a header deep in the Talbot half to nod the ball back for Paul McKenzie who with one look up launched an audacious shot from 30 yards out but again Leishman came out on top as he leaped to get an outstretched arm to fingertip the ball over the bar. Soon after a lob by Armstrong from closer range was well held.
The Glens were predominantly on the front foot thanks to a resilient defence, ably supported by a midfield where Craig Potter steadfastly broke down many of the Talbot attacks allowing Danny Mitchell to set the Glens on their way up field again. Chances continued to fall and just as the half hour mark passed McKenzie left Gordon Pope for dead wide on right flank and then give Leishman the slip, by now at the corner flag, before hooking the ball into box where John Dempster’s shot cannoned off Collins and fell kindly into the arms of the Talbot goalie having scrambled back to the edge of his area.
Six minutes before the break the home side made the break through. Bobby Colligan gathered the ball wide left in the Talbot box and rather than head for the bye-line he doubled back to leave Kyle Faulds flat-footed and fired a glorious cross over to the back post beyond McGoldrick and Collins, both busy picking up Danny Mitchell, for Dempster to steal in and rise aboon them a’ to thunder a header goalward only for Leishman to pull of an equally stunning point blank save. Mitchell robbed Collins of the loose ball and rolled it back to Gareth Armstrong who promptly dispatched it beyond the ruck of home and away players and into the haven of the corner of the net. EEKA PEEKA PUKA BO.
Five minutes later Glen Mitchell, outstanding in defence throughout the match, got on the end of a Colligan corner to bullet a header from the penalty spot and although Leishman was rooted to his line Colin Spence executed his duty at the back post and cleared the ball off the line. H/T Glens 1 Talbot 0
The home side started the new half in splendid fashion. Spence attempted to block McKenzie’s direct path into the box forcing the midfielder to cut back and turn the exasperated Talbot man outside-in before laying the ball off to the overlapping Craig Menzies to whip the ball across the face of the goal where Dempster nicked in between Collins and Leishman to try and force the ball over the line but an alert Willie Lyle kept his cool and blasted the ball from the line and into touch. Five minutes later Armstrong set Colligan free on the left to bomb into the box and then skip past McGoldrick before drilling a low drive from 15 yards which Leishman, on his six yard line, did well to get down and parry the ball away and then bravely dive at the feet of the incoming Dempster .
Talbot began to enjoy a greater share of possession and in 55 minutes carved out a half chance when McCann was forced to abandon his six yard box to face Kier Milliken on the bye-line who rather than take the keeper on the forward lofted a dangerous ball into the goalmouth for strike partner Michael Reilly but in stepped Richie McKillen to blast the ball clear. Four minutes later McCann mopped up a Talbot corner punching the ball from the head of substitute Craig Pettigrew. At the other end a Glen Mitchell header from a Colligan corner was spilled by Leishman, due to the close attention of Armstrong, but Collins was on hand to clear as Dempster threatened to pounce.
Midway through the half McCann pulled off a great save to push a Young drive from an acute angle over the bar. The resultant corner was cleared comfortably with Ryan McChesney and Glen Mitchell magnificent at the heart of the home defence the pair proving to be an immovable force.
On 73 minutes Gareth Armstrong left to a rousing cheer of appreciation from the home support with John Paul Boyle joining the fray. Two minutes later the magical McKenzie menaced his way down the right and into the Talbot box to whizz the ball across the face of goal leaving Lyle no option but to hoof the ball high and wide past at the expense of a corner. McKenzie‘s kick was met by Glen Mitchell (leaping head, shoulders and knees above the Talbot defence) and although his fantastic header beat Leishman the ball crashed off the underside of the bar and as Boyle tried to poke it over the line post-man Spence once again performed his clear up duties again, with claims a hand may have been used waved away.
The game entered a spell of end to end play without either keeper being seriously tested as the heat on the day before the Glorious Twelfth took its toll on the tempo of the game. Talbot ensured that those aforementioned long-in-the-tooth Glenafton supporters were biting what nails they had left into the quick as they looked to snatch a draw at the death. However, Pettigrew’s header went well wide of target as did Graham Wilson’s free-kick from the edge of the box. Paul McKenzie made way for Craig McEwan in the dying seconds of time added on and left the pitch to a rapturous reception from the home support. In the last action of the game the tireless Dempster painted the Talbot defence into their own corner but there was no time to take the corner and the final whistle heralded sporting handshakes. F/T Glens 1 Talbot 0
Glenafton: McCann; Menzies, McChesney, G. Mitchell, McKillen; McKenzie (McEwan), Potter, D. Mitchell, Colligan; Armstrong (Boyle), Dempster. Subs – Galloway (trialist, Dunsmuir (gk)
Auchinleck: Leishman, Lyle; McGoldrick, Collins, Pope; Montgomerie, Faulds, Spence, Young; Reilly, Milliken. Subs. McCann, Pettigrew, Wilson, Robb
Other Section 4 Scores
Kello 2 Cumnock 3; Muirkirk 2 Lugar 2