New Coin Automatics West of Scotland Cup Semi-final
Sat 25th May, Loch Park, New Cumnock
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 3 (2)
ARTHURLIE 2 (1)
Glenafton were forced to make four changes to the starting eleven that had overcome Largs Thistle in the quarter final a fortnight ago with Paul McKenzie, Craig Potter, Danny Mitchell and Craig McEwan all unavailable. Visitors Arthurlie, who were victorious in the league match at Loch Park earlier in the season, were looking to take a fourth Premier side scalp in their excellent run in the West of Scotland cup.
The home side started brightly in the glorious May sunshine forcing an early corner which although won by the head of Richie McKillen was eventually cleared by the boot of former Glens’ defender Chris Merrilees. On five minutes Jack Steele pinged the ball from the half way line over the top of the ‘Lie defence for John Dempster to head down into the path of the incoming Ryan Millar but his shot from 10 yards out saw keeper Kevin Macklin pull off a super save and turn the ball round the post. However, the young Glens’ striker was not to be denied. From Gus Cochrane’s corner-kick Ross Robertson, engulfed in a cluster of players, headed the ball forward deep into the six yard box where Ryan Millar was first to react and deftly guide the ball home between the keeper and Craig Holmes defending the near post.
Six minutes later Glenafton doubled their advantage when another Cochrane corner was powerfully headed up-field by Iain Chisholm and the ball instantly returned to the danger area by Steele’s looping header. Here it was headed on by Ryan McChesney and as the ball broke Ross Robertson nicked between Holmes and Steven Crawford to calmly stroke it into the corner of the net from 15 yards out.
Shell-shocked ‘Lie who had yet to threaten carved out their first chance on 19 minutes after Ryan McGregor’s header was gathered by James Marks who having spotted keeper Ally Semple off his line executed a delicate lob only for the keeper to back track and get an outstretched arm to push the ball wide of the post. Although nothing came of the resultant corner kick it signaled a period where play became significantly more evenly distributed in terms of possession.
On 27 minutes the home side were forced to make a change with Gareth Armstrong replacing the injured Graeme Eaglesham who had to leave the field after stretching awkwardly for the ball.
Arthurlie began to exert pressure and Marks’ aerial prowess was keeping central defenders Glen Mitchell and McKillen on their toes …and in the air. Three minutes from the break the striker halved the deficit. A corner from the right found the ball partially cleared to the left flank where Paul Stewart rolled it into the path of Holmes who clipped the ball back across the face of goal for James Marks to rise and powerfully head beyond Semple.
Two minutes later Glenafton looked to recover their two goal cushion when Steele collected a header from Dempster and knocked the ball on through the heart of the visitors back-line and gave chase leaving defenders in his wake in his 50-50 race for the ball with Macklin now rushing from his line. The keeper bravely won that race as Steele slid to try and prod the ball home but instead caught Macklin, an effort deemed worthy of a straight red card by the match official.
In the closing action of the half Armstrong sandwiched between Merrilees and Blakey on the outskirts of the box did well to engineer a lob at goal only for it to finish just wide of target. H/T Glens 2 Lie 1
Ten minutes after the break the visitors drew level with a well worked goal. Stewart at the corner of the box fed Marks to his left who quickly drilled the ball across the face of the goal where it was redirected back to the near post by Stephen Bonar for Stephen McKeown to tap home.
The visitors’ tails were up and with a man advantage began to enjoy long spells of possession as they spread the ball the length and breadth of the park albeit without severely testing Semple as the red line of McChesney, Mitchell, McKillen and Craig Menzies put in a shift and half.
In stark contrast it was the 10 men that were creating the best of the chances. Just after the hour mark Millar’s pace again caused panic as he got behind the ‘Lie defence and forced Macklin to rush from his line to confront him at the edge of the box where the Glens’ striker skipped past him and tried to slot the ball home from an acute angle only for Blakey to get back in time and guide it behind for a corner. The keeper then pulled off a fine save from Robertson’s looping header.
Millar left the field soon after to thunderous applause from the home support in an appreciation of another exhilarating performance to be replaced by Gareth Campbell who a minute late powered into the box and hit a low drive which Macklin was relieved to see go just wide of the far post. Soon after it was Armstrong’s turn to get behind the defence and brilliantly turn Crawford in the box before opting to cut the ball back for Dempster on the penalty spot, the pass however falling just behind his strike partner.
With 10 minutes to go the roles were reversed with Dempster cutting back for Armstrong only for the ball to be cleared and recaptured by Robertson tight on the right flank. As Bonar and Holmes tried to paint the Glens man into the corner, he twisted one way and the other before whipping the ball into the box where it was met first time by Gus Cochrane and from 16 yards he lashed it into the top corner with Macklin a spectator – a stunning strike worthy of any cup-tie winning cliché.
Try as they might Arthurlie couldn’t conjure up fresh ideas to try and get the better of the 10 men and any saves Semple had to make were of the comfortable and sound variety. Meanwhile, at the other end Dempster continued to harass the ‘Lie defence as time ran out for the Barrhead side.
F/T Glens 3 Arthurlie 2
Glenafton: Semple; McChesney, G.Mitchell, McKillen, Menzies; Robertson, Steele, Eaglesham (Armstrong), Cochrane; Millar (Campbell) and Dempster. Subs. McMillan, Dunsmuir (gk)
Arthurlie: Macklin; Chisholm, Blakey, Merrilees, Crawford; McGregor, Bonar, McKeown, Holmes; Marks & Stewart. Subs Duncan, Blakes, Muir, Dymock, Merriman
Other scores: West of Scotland Cup semi-final Kirkintilloch Rob Roy 1 Glasgow Perthshire 4