Stagecoach West Region Premier Division
Saturday 15th September , Loch Park, New Cumnock
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1 (1)
ARTHURLIE 2 (1)
Captain Robbie Henderson and Glen Mitchell returned to the heart of the Glenafton defence for the visit of Arthurlie as both clubs looked to secure their first league win of the season. The Barrhead side got off to the best of starts with a goal in the opening minute when Paul ‘Tiny’ Stewart darted into the box to gather a header from former Glens’ defender Chris Merrilees and beat the outrushing Ally Semple to force the ball into the gaping net. Six minutes later Semple came out on top when he dived at the feet of the striker to prevent him prodding the ball home at the near post.
Good chances were proving to be thin on the ground for the hosts and in a ten-minute spell they were forced to replace strikers Gareth Armstrong and John Dempster after both had suffered knocks, with Scott McManus and former Arthurlie striker John Paul Boyle coming on in their place.
On the half-hour mark the Glens came close when keeper Paddy Macklin got down low to stop a Danny Mitchell shot from 12 yards out. Five minutes later the keeper took his eye off a harmless looking pass back and let the ball slip under foot and was mightily relieved to see the ball slip past his post. At the other end, after an excellent run down the left, Caolan McAleer picked out Stewart deep in the box but again Semple had his measure as he rushed forward to narrow the angle and block the shot. Five minutes later the keeper pulled off a fine save from a Mark Blakey free kick some 25 yards from goal.
As the half drew to a close Glenafton enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure which paid off on 43 minutes. McManus deep in the box and with his back to goal did well to engineer an overhead kick that was headed clear at the near post by Merrilees. The visitors’ defence struggled to clear the resultant corner and were pegged back in their own when the ball fell for Paul Murphy on the penalty spot to roll it back to Danny Mitchell and from the 18 yard line the midfielder thundered an unstoppable shot high into Macklin’s top right hand corner. H/T Glens 1 Lie 1
In the opening minute of the new half McManus came close to emulating Stewart’s opener as he chased a high lob into the box only for Macklin, who had stormed off his line, to arrive a split second too soon and bravely clutch the ball to the safety. Five minutes later Boyle beat Merrilees to a header on the six yard line and although Macklin fumbled the loose ball he recovered it at the second attempt. The home side’s promising start was dealt a deadly blow two minutes later when a cross from the far right found Caolan McAleer in acres of space at the far side of the box where he stooped to send a diving header high into the roof the net.
The home side responded well through a powerful run down the right by Gareth Campbell and a cut-back into the box which was lashed goal-ward first time by McManus only for Macklin to pull off a stunning save. On 69 minutes the Glens’ cause suffered another set-back when Craig Potter received a second yellow card for tripping McAleer, twice in quick succession. Nevertheless the hosts were still very much in the hunt with Paul McKenzie the driving force in the search for the equaliser as he skipped past the Barrhead sky-blues time and again. He picked out Boyle and in turn his cross into the box was met by a Danny Mitchell header which Macklin grabbed with a safe pair of hands. Back up the park and the menacing McAleer conjured up a cracking shot with the outside of his right foot that whizzed inches over Semple’s bar.
On 81 minutes Boyle nicked the ball from the toes of Merrilees at the edge of the box and played a delicate one-two with McManus before driving through the gap between Steven Crawford and Blakey and drilling a shot low and hard beyond the reach of the wrong-footed Macklin on his six yard line only for the ball to drift inches wide of target – ending a move that deserved so much more. Two minutes into added-on time and McAleer came close to topping off a fine display with a left-footed blast from a tight angle only for Semple to dive at full stretch and push the ball wide. FT Glens 1 Lie 2
Glenafton: Semple; Potter, G.Mitchell, Henderson, McKillen; McKenzie (Colligan), Murphy, D.Mitchell, Campbell; Armstrong (McManus), Dempster (Boyle) Subs. McEwan, McChesney, Menzies, Dunsmuir (gk)
Arthurlie: Macklin; Merrilees, Blakey, Hodge, Crawford; McKeown, McKay, McGregor, McAller; Dymock, Stewart. Subs Dallas, Marks, Muir, Deas, Shepherd (gk)
Other league scores: Ashfield 4 Cumnock 2; Auchinleck 4 Pollok 0; Kirkintilloch 4 Beith 0; Petershill 2 Irvine Meadow 2; Shotts 1 Clydebank 1