West Region Stagecoach Premier Division : Match 12
Saturday 21st December, Meadow Park, Irvine
IRVINE MEADOW 2 (0)
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 0 (0)
Glenafton made two changes to the side that faced Rob Roy with Michael Reilly replacing Alain Kinney up front after the big striker failed a late fitness test and captain Craig Menzies returning to the heart of the defence in place of Craig McEwan.
Heavy dark rain clouds hovered low over Meadow Park as the home side kicked off with a strong blustery wind at their back. The Medda almost caught the visitors cold in the opening minute after winning a couple of tackles in the Glens box to set up Darren Miller only for his drive from 20 yards out sail over the bar. Five minutes later determined play down the left by Reilly and Cameron Marlow won Glenafton a corner kick from which Reilly, in a crowded six yard box, was unfortunate to see his stab at goal go agonisingly wide. Soon after Reilly’s drive from 25 yards was well held by Graeme Shepherd and then the keeper, on loan from Albion Rovers, was relieved to see a John Craig free kick whizz past the post.
On 15 minutes Mark Sideserf’s cross from the left was met at the back post perfectly by Paul Maxwell but his powerful header bulleted wide of target. Five minutes later Ryan Caddis muscled his way through the middle of the park and as two red shirts closed in he drilled the ball low and hard from 22 yards beyond the reach of keeper Brian McGarrity.
Glens came close to levelling within three minutes only for Shepherd to pull off a magnificent save in geting a hand to a 30 yard pile-driver of a free kick from Jamie McKernon. The keeper then punched the ball clear from the head of Aaron Connolly as the visitors tried to convert the resultant corner. His counterpart McGarrity performed similar heroics from a corner kick to flick the ball from the head of Maxwell. On 34 minutes the home side doubled their lead when Caddis on the left picked out Maxwell who then drove to the bye-line before whipping the ball to the back post where Gary McCann timed his leap to perfection to bullet a header downward and into the net.
Five minutes from the break Connolly slipped the ball to Marlow who stole behind the Medda defence but his angled shot from the corner of the six yard box was just off target, albeit the keeper had his near post well covered. H/T Meadow 2 Glens 0
The Meadow were first to threaten as McCann bolted down the right only for his cross to be cut out at the near post by McGarrity as Caddis waited to pounce. The home side forced a couple of corners that came to nothing before the Glens began to force their way into the game. On 53 minutes McKernon made excellent progress down the right flank before clipping the ball into the box for Marlow but his volley from 10 yards was blocked by Mark Staunton.
Glens, now with the wind at their backs, continued to press with McKernon and Findlay Frye controlling the midfield as Meadow dropped deeper back into defence. However, unlocking that ‘thick blue line’ was proving beyond the guile of the visitors, particularly with Shepherd in fine form.
A McChesney cross from tight on the right was punched from under the bar by Shepherd and booted clear by Staunton as Marlow looked to halve the deficit. Soon after, on 62 minutes, the keeper conjured up another top drawer save when at full stretch he pushed a Reilly rocket from 25 yards past the post. Back to back corners were cleared in determined fashion by the home rear guard.
As the Glens toiled to make most of their possession the Meadow threatened to add to their tally through McCann’s electric pace. On 83 minutes he disappeared in the failing light down the right before picking out Maxwell in the box only for McGarrity to get the finest of touches to concede a corner kick which the keeper then clutched safely under the bar. Two minutes later McCann and Maxwell combined again, on this occasion the striker had time onhis side to pick his spot, but again McGarrity came out on top with a stunning save.
With three minutes left Frye lashed a left footer from 20 yards out that flashed past the post. In the last serious action of the match substitute Shaun Fraser broke upfield at haste before feeding McCann on the right and although the one-two took McGarrity out of the play, McChesney slid in to prevent Hall from facing an empty net for a tap-in. FT Meadow 2 Glens 0
Irvine Meadow: Shepherd; Darroch, Staunton, Twadlle, Halliday; McCann, Thomson, Miller (Fraser), Sideserf; Maxwell and Caddis (Hall).
Glenafton Athletic: McGarrity; McGeoghan, McChesney, Menzies, Cairns; Craig, McKernon, Frye, Marlow (Dimilta); Connolly, Reilly (Brown). Subs Dunsmuir, McEwan, Miller