Ardagh Cup Ayrshire League Cup Final
Sunday 12th October, Portland Park, Troon
AUCHINLECK TALBOT 0 (0)
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 2 (1)
JAMBO UNCHAINED AS GLENAFTON ENJOY CUP GLORY
Jamie McKernon won the man-of-the-match award after his freedom of Portland Park display orchestrated Glenafton’s convincing victory over Auchinleck Talbot in the Ardagh Cup final at Troon today. If truth be told, all those that run him close to the award played in either in red and white stripes or in the case of keeper Brian McGarrity all blue, who produced a faultless display against his former club.
Having said that Talbot were quick-off the mark and forced a corner-kick in the opening minute which was clutched cleanly under his bar by McGarrity and soon after the alert keeper foiled Graham Wilson’s attempt to clip the ball home from close range. Glenafton gained the initiative with McKernon pulling the strings in midfield and had Talbot on the back foot on all fronts particularly down the left flank where Adam Strachan and Aaron Connolly combined well, ably supported by with full back Alan Cairns.
On 10 minutes Andy Leishman did well to get down low and parry a 25 yard shot from Michael Wardrope and spring to his feet and make an excellent save from Connolly in his attempt to drill the loose ball home from a tight angle.A minute later Jamie McGeoghegan stroked the ball into the box for Alain Kinney to give chase and although he muscled his way to the corner of the six yard box defender Craig McCracken blocked the shot at goal.
Talbot cleared the resultant corner-kick and indeed defender Martin McGoldrick made excellent progress down the left wing before the ball was then delivered to David Gormley at the back post but the striker couldn’t pick out a team-mate to put the finishing touch to counter-attack.
Glens responded in lethal fashion and took the lead on 15 minutes. McKernon picked out Strachan in the centre circle and a twist and turn later he finds Cameron Marlow in space who feeds the ball immediately to Kinney. The bustling striker, head down heads for goal accompanied by a squadron of red and white shirts and slips the ball to Connolly who is tackled at the edge of the box and the ball instantly recaptured by Cameron Marlow to drive forward before clipping the ball beyond the advancing Leishman and into the corner of the net.
At the other end McGarrity made light work of a near post header from Gormley before Glenafton were back to breaking forward in waves with some classy passing and yet converting this possession into a second goal was proving to be more of a challenge.
Midway through the half Talbot enjoyed a good ten minute spell. In a rare attack through the middle Gormley was brought down at the edge of the box by Ryan McChesney, earning the Glens captain a yellow card. Wilson’s free kick was driven into the wall and only partially cleared before being returned to the near post where Gormley’s header was clutched by ease by the Glens keeper. Five minutes later another ball whipped in from the left was met by the leaping Wilson and his powerful header was pushed on to the bar by McGarrity before being mopped up.
On the half hour mark Strachan menaced his way down the left and his cut-back created havoc in the Talbot box with Leishman saving one attempt to bury the ball before Connolly pounced on the rebound and time appeared to stand still as his shot headed for the gaping net only for it to crack of the crossbar. Five minutes later Connolly cruised down the left before firing the ball across the face of goal only for the safe hands of Leishman to grab the ball a Kinney waited to pounce. H/T Auchinleck 0 Glenafton 1
Glens came within a whisker of doubling their lead within minutes of the restart after McKernon released Wardrope down the right and his cut back intended for the incoming Connolly and Marlow saw the ball loop over the bar with Leishman grounded.
On 53 minutes the long awaited second goal arrived after Alain Kinney caught the Talbot defence flat-footed and left himself with a free run on goal before nut-megging the out-rushing Leishman to stroke the ball into net.
With their tails up and Talbot’s heads down the New Cumnock side now pressed for a third and they were enjoying more success down the right flank with the tireless Daniel Orsi pushing forward in support while Strachan cutting inside from the left was also causing problems for the Talbot defence.
On the hour mark Marlow’s shot from 22 yards was held well by Leishmann and two minutes later Connolly’s volley from the same distance whizzed just wide of target.
Just after the hour mark the big keeper made a stunning save from Kinney’ vicious volley as the Glens pushed for a third. There was to be no more scoring and the Glens ran out comfortable winners. On 72 minutes Kinney gave the Talbot defence the slip again and from the outskirts of the box met the ball sweetly to thunder a shot that would surely have bulged the net if not for a stunning airborne save from Leishman; the bigger keeper then rising to clutch the corner-kick for seconds.
Two minutes later Gormley played a cute ball into the box for substitute Keir Milliken to chase but McGeoghan’s pace saw him intercept the ball and Milliken tumble in the box, earning the striker a yellow card. Glenafton brought on the fresh legs of Darren McGill for Cameron Marlow who left to rapturous applause for from the #AftonArmy!
Talbot had a claim for hand-ball in the box waved away the referee considering Alan Cairns could do little to avoid the contact. With 10 minutes to go the Beechwood Park side won a free-kick at the edge of the box and although Colin Spence curled the ball beyond the Glens wall, McGarrity plucked the ball out the air at the near post. At the other end another fine passing move ended with Wardrope’s shot whizzing wide of the post.
The final whistle sparked of great scenes of celebration within the Glenafton support and to their credit an acknowledgement from many of the Talbot supporters that on the day the better team had won. F/T Auchinleck 0 Glenafton 2
Glenafton Athletic: McGarrity; Orsi, McChesney, McGeoghegan, Cairns; Wardrope, Marlow (McGill), McKernon, Strachan; Connolly & Kinney. Subs – Menzies, Adam, Reilly,Walker.
Auchinleck Talbot: Leishman; McCracken, Lyle Mcgoldrick, Park; Young, White, Hyslop, Boyd; Wilson & Gormley. Subs used – Milliken, Spence, Latta. Not used – Shankland, Kerr.