West Region Premier Division
Saturday 17th August, Loch Park, New Cumnock
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1 (1)
IRVINE MEADOW 3 (2)
Glenafton hosted Irvine Meadow in the opening league game of the season, both sides almost unrecognisable from the season before when the New Cumnock side had come out on top in all three meetings – twice in the league and once in their successful West of Scotland Cup campaign.
The home side started with three trialists and six summer signings along with Ryan McChesney and Craig Menzies at centre-backs. Meanwhile Meadow had a handful of former Ashfield players that had followed manager Stevie Rankin from Saracen Park. One in particular, striker Paul Maxwell, had made his mark at Loch Park in the past , having scored five goals here in back to seasons when the sides faced each other in the Super 1st Division; and today he proved to be the match winner again with a first half brace.
The opener came as early as the third minute after a long ball was launched from tight on the left touchline deep into the box and Maxwell outjumped Jamie McGeoghan to guide a close range header into the top corner.
Within a minute the home side were level, after trialist Cameron Marlow outfoxed Mark Thomson to send in a wicked cross to the near post where it was met by the flashing head of Scott Adam, only for Medda’s trialist keeper Corr to pull off a stunning save although he could do nothing to stop Aaron Connolly blast home the loose ball for his fifth goal of the season.
The Glens began to enjoy a good spell of possession with some fine passing play. On 15 minutes a strong run from the centre circle by Connolly delivered the ball to Findlay Frye at the edge of the box but the former Meadow’s midfielder crack at goal whizzed over the bar. The pace and play of Gary McCann down the right for the visitors also caught the eye but the home defence starved the forwards of any clear chances.
On 35 minutes Connolly gathered the ball on the far side of the box before turning inside and drilling for goal, but the ball deflected off Adam and sailed over the bar. A minute later Adam won a header in the box to send the ball skyward and somehow Connolly positioned himself to meet the ball on its descent and his volley from inside the six yard box deserved more.
Meadow broke down the left and another high ball lofted into the box was gathered by McCann and although his effort at goal was blocked well by the keeper, Paul Maxwell was well placed to pick his spot from a few yards out.
Two minutes later McCann’s endeavours earned the visitors a corner-kick and a free header at the back post came within inches of doubling Meadow’s lead. H/T Glens 1 Meadow 2
Glens were quickly on the front foot and on 49 minutes a Marlow rocket from 20 yards out was superbly saved by Corr and Frye’s attempt to play the ball back into the danger area blocked at the expense of a corner. Three corner-kicks followed in quick succession without the keeper being seriously tested. The home side continued to press and on 55 minutes Connolly broke down the right but there was no takers for the ball into box.
With just over an hour on the clock the visitors extended their lead when Mark Sideserf on the left sent a ball across the face of goal which struck the unfortunate McGeoghan and flew into his own net.
Gareth Armstrong replaced trialist Craig Brown as the Glens tried to claw back a two goal deficit. However, it was Meadow’s substitute Kevin Finlayson that came close to extending the visitors lead after a splendid piece of passing set up the former Bellshill player deep in the box only for Craig Menzies presence to force him to fire wide of the post.
The home side’s passing game of the first half was less evident now and although they tried to push forward they came up against a determined Meadow side in no rush to push on and look for a fourth. Glenafton’s luck deserted them on 71 minutes when a Jamie McKernon stunning free kick from 30 yards out cracked off the post with Corr beaten and seven minutes later an Armstrong header flashed wide of the post. With time running out Meadow stood firm and secured the points. FT Glens 1 Meadow 3
Glenafton Athletic: Trialist; Miller, McChesney, Menzies, McGeochan; Frye, Trialist-Marlow, McKernon, Trialist-Brown (Armstrong); Connolly and Adam. Subs Craig, trialists x 3
Irvine Meadow: Corr; Darroch, Halliday, Staunton, Thomson, D McGeouch , McCann . McStay, Maxwell, Fraser, Sideserf Subs P McGeough, Buchanan , Finlayson, Stokes , Calder (gk)
more photos here