Ardagh Glass Cup Semi-final
Wednesday 3rd September, Valefield Park, Kilbirnie
KILBIRNIE LADESIDE 1 (1)
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 3 (2)
Glenafton fielded the same starting eleven that kicked off in the win over Clydebank on Saturday and talking off fields Valefield looked in great nick in the evening sunshine. The home side got off to a flyer and took the lead within 2 minutes. The Glens cheaply conceded a corner-kick which was duly won by the head of Darren McLean and although keeper Brian McGarrity got a hand to the ball it ended in the back of the net.
Although play was end to end there were too many stray final passes resulting in a scrappy period of play in which neither side created any real chance of notes. Eventually the visitors began to get the upper hand and earned a number of set pieces that were well defended until the equaliser was fashioned on 22 minutes. A Jamie McKernon corner-kick from the right was met by the head of the airborne Ryan McChesney, launched from near the penalty spot, and his looping header found that sweet spot between the head of the defender on the near post and the crossbar before the ball bulged the net.
Ladeside struggled to recover from the blow as the Glens took heart and continued to press with McKernon pulling the strings in the middle of the park. Former Glens keeper Chris Fahey blocked an effort in the six yard from the bustling former Kilbirnie striker Alain Kinney. In a flash Daniel Orsi and Adam Strachan combined down the left , the latter whipping the ball to the back post where Cameron Marlow’s acrobatic volley whizzed over Fahey’s head and over the bar. Strachan, down the left again, slipped the ball to Alan Cairns and his cross to the back post was headed across the face of goal by Orsi creating a moment of tension between Kilbirnie’s keeper and defender before the ball was cleared.
On the half hour mark McKernon picked out Kinney deep in the box and his shot blocked by a wall of defenders, a Ladeside leg then prevented Strachan lashing home the loose ball. The ensuing corner initiated a game of head tennis with Marlow’s header headed clear and Jamie McGeoghegan’s return header clinched by Fahey.
The goal that was on the cards was dealt on 38 minutes beginning with a measured chip from Kinney deep in his own half that was gathered by Marlow on the left hand side of the box before turning back with the ball, leaving a defender for dead, and then rolling it to the 18 yard line where it was reunited with Alain Kinney and drilled low and hard shot and wrong footing Fahey before nestling in the net.Kilbirnie countered with a corner kick only for the shot at the near post to edge wide of target. HT Kilbirnie 1 Glenafton 2
Following an early free-kick played into the box which saw a handful of Glens players beat the offside and yet unable to engineer a shot at goal it was the home side that found a second wind and went in search of what had seemed an unlikely equaliser.
A series of angled flashing shots from inside the box got progressively closer target while Brian McGarrity was far the busier of the two keepers. Midway through the half Kilbirnie won a free kick on the edge of the box and although the ball beat the wall McGarrity showed a clean pair of hands to cleanly gather the ball in the line.
Although the visitors created a couple of half chances it is fair to say their third goal netted on 71 minutes came against the run of play. Pat Walker who had replaced Orsi minutes earlier and with his back to goal collected the ball deep in the box form Marlow after determined play down the flank. A twist and a turn left him and his marker on the ground, only after he had skilfully guided the ball into the path of Adam Strachan to drive the ball home from a few yards out beyond the frozen Fahey.
Five minutes later the game took another twist after Kinney earned a second yellow card for a rash tackle and the Glens reduced to 10 men. Nevertheless the two goal cushion rejuvenated the visitors and they were eager to add to their tally. Ladeside carved out a few chances of their own, including another free kick from the edge of the box, which although curled beyond the wall sailed over the bar. In the closing minutes frustrations surfaced and Ladeside were reduced to 9 men for picking up their second bookings.
FT Kilbirnie 1 Glenafton 3
Glenafton Athletic: McGarrity; McEwan, McChesney, McGeoghegan, McEwan; Orsi (Walker), McKernon, Marlow, Strachan (Meikle); Kinney and Wardrope Sub not used : Thomson