West Region Premier Division : Match 19
Wednesday 30 th April, Blair Park, Hurlford
HURLFORD UNITED 2 (1)
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 0 (0)
East Ayrshire’s two Scottish Junior Cup finalists lined up in a league encounter at Blair Park, a month before the final that will take place away a few miles away at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock.
For the Glens former ‘Ford forward Aaron Connolly joined Craig Menzies on the injury list after suffering a knock in the Monday night victory over Pollok. Cameron Marlow was rested with a place on the bench. In Hurlford’s starting line-up were four former Glenafton players – Glen Mitchell, Jack Steele, Paul McKenzie and Ross Robertson, while John Dempster was on the bench.
Ford came flying out the blocks and had the Glens defence at sixes and sevens in the early encounters and with 3 minutes gone Robertson missed a great chance to open the scoring after his free header from close range sailed over the bar. Undeterred the breakthrough came two minutes later as the visitors struggled to clear their lines and after blocking two attempts the ball fell kindly for Callum Watt in space to power the ball home from close range.
Glens rallied and earned a corner and although Ryan McChesney won the header Hurlford hoofed the ball clear. At the other Craig McEwan won the aerial battle with Stewart Kean as they challenged for the ball under the Glens’ bar. Another Glen’s corner ended with Alain Kinney with his back to goal hooking the ball over the bar. On 12 minutes Stevie Millier made good progress down the right and although Michael Reilly beat Mitchell to the cut back his shot from the edge of the six yard box was blocked well.
The storm clouds opened over Blair Park and the hosts looked the more likely to add to their tally as they spread ball with some style from flank to flank and yet although the defending could be frantic at times in the Glens box, keeper Brian McGarrity wasn’t severely tested as chances went a-begging. Meanwhile the Glens were restricted to a few half chances and Ford’s keeper Alistair Brown mopped these up comfortably. HT Hurlford 1 Glens 0
Hurlford won an early corner and McGarrity got a vital hand to the ball as Robertson rose to head at the back post . On 48 minutes the home side were reduced to 10 men when Steel was shown a straight red card for a studs-showing challenge on Miller at the centre circle. McKenzie’s name went in the book soon after for a late challenge on McGarrity. Reilly tried his luck from distance only for Brown to clutch the ball safely in difficult conditions.
Another fine punch on 58 minutes from McGarrity prevented the ball reaching Kean crouching at the back post, lining up his header. Three minutes later a long ball released Robertson through on goal, forcing McGarrity to run to the outskirts of his box only for the ‘Ford striker to use a hand to guide the ball away from the keeper. A yellow card, was swiftly followed by a red (perhaps he had been booked previously or protested inappropriately).
Nevertheless it was the 9 men that fashioned the next goal. A Glens attack was broken down on the edge of the ‘Ford box and Watt launched the ball upfield for Kean to chase. The striker fended off the back-tracking McChesney and after a touch or two in the box he gave McGarrity no chance and with dogged determination bulged the net from six yards out and doubled the host’s lead on 69 minutes. Six minutes later McGarrity dived bravely at the feet of Watt as ‘Ford pushed for another.
Understandably the Glens began to enjoy much more possession but much of that in their own half and just beyond as they struggled to penetrate a well drilled defence. Fresh legs of a trialist for Reilly and Marlow for Darren McGill were added and later on Craig Brown but to no avail and Hurlford held on comfortably to secure all the points.
FT Hurlford 2 Glens 0
Glenafton Atheltic: McGarrity; McEwan, McChesney, McGeoghegan, Cairns (Brown); Miller (Brown), McKernon, Frye, McGill (Marlow); Kinney & Reilly (trialist).