Stagecoach Western Super League Premier Division : Match 11
Saturday 20th December, Loch Park , NewCumnock
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 2 (1)
IRVINE MEADOW 2 (1)
A minute’s silence was observed before kick-off as a mark of respect for former Glenafton Athletic President and supporter Tam Wilson, who passed away this week.
Good Shepherd saves Meadow from a mowing
Irvine Meadow goalkeeper Graeme Shepherd made a handful of stunning saves throughout the match and the visitors scored a goal in time added on to secure a share of the points in an enthralling encounter at Loch Park.
Glenafton were first to threaten after former Meadow player Adam Strachan won a corner kick which was taken by Jamie McKernon and from six yards out the ball headed just wide of target by Strachan. Meadow responded with a free kick from wide on the left which forced keeper Brian McGarrity to leave his line and jump at full stretch to divert the ball from Michael Keenan stealing in at the back post.
The home side continued to press and excellent overlapping play by Craig Menzies down the right wing saw his cross headed cleared by Grant Evans and soon after the central defender also fended off Kinney’s challenge after good build up play by McKernon.
Strachan then cut in from the left and fed the ball to Cameron Marlow, lurking in the ‘D’ of the penalty box, who quickly turned to wrong foot Keenan before lashing a low drive which was turned round the post by Shepherd at full stretch. From the resultant corner-kick Jamie McGeoghegan’s header fell for Alain Kinney deep in the six yard box who managed to squeeze the ball between the keeper and his defenders on the line to put the Glens ahead on 5 minutes.
On 10 minutes Gary McCann weaved his way down the right flank and cut deep into the box only to be foiled by McGarrity bravely diving at his feet to push the ball wide. McCann’s corner was met by a glancing header from Marc Twaddle at the near post and the ball slammed home at the back post by Willie Sawyers.
Glenafton recovered quickly and with McKernon pulling the strings in the middle of the park the home side pegged Meadow deep into their own half. Back-to-back corners were cleared by the visitors’ defence with Evans in the thick of the action. Kinney caught Twaddle sleeping to beat the offside trap but the back tracking Staunton robbed the striker as he cut in on goal.
At the other end Ryan McChesney cut out a wicked ball whipped into the box by Mark McLennan, with Sawyers the target, and then mopped up the resultant corner kick. Midway through the half McCann skinned the Glens defence and his cut-back from deep in the box picked out Sawyers in acres of space only for his shot to lack the pace and direction to worry McGarrity.
Ten minutes later Kinney released Strachan down the left and after jinking his way into the box past a sea of blue shirts he squared the ball for the incoming Kinney but the striker pulled his effort from 12 yards out wide of target. On 35 minutes Kinney was the architect again. He played an exquisite one-two on the outskirts of the box with Connolly before bursting into the box and with McCann hard on his heels fired for goal from the corner of the six yard box, only for Shepherd to stand tall and make a wonderful one-hand saved that ended with the ball rolling along the face of the empty net and out of play.
The corner kick was only partially cleared before Alan Cairns whipped the ball to the back post where Keenan beat Connolly and McChesney to the ball and Twaddle blocked Kinney’s attempt to bury the rebound. In the closing minutes of the half Kinney rolled an inch-perfect ball down the left for Connolly to chase and cut across the face of goal and create panic in the Meadow box.
First, Strachan’s effort was blocked by Twaddle sending the ball spinning to the other side of goal forcing Shepherd then to race to the corner of his six yard box and pull off a stunning save from Michael Wardrope’s powerful angled drive and finally the recovering Twaddle blocked Marlow’s attempt to net the loose ball. H/T Glens 1 Meadow 1
Glens started brightly with Wardrope picking up a Marlow pass into the box only for his angled shot to sail over Shepherd’s head and the crossbar. Five minutes into the new half and Meadow were reduced to 10 men after play maker McKernon, who minutes before had been subject of a crude tackle by Evans, was caught by the studs of Keenan earning the big midfielder a straight red card. Five minutes later Connolly was shown yellow for a late tackle on Shepherd, the keeper coming out on top in the race for a long ball into the box.
The home side continued to press and earned a couple of corner-kicks that were dutifully cleared by the Meadow defence. On the hour mark a McKernon blast from outside the box appeared net-bound only for Staunton to head the ball over his own bar. McChesney was inches off making a clean contact with the resultant corner-kick before this too was cleared.
Although having much less of the ball Meadow still looked dangerous on the break and Menzies, on top form, did well to mop up the pieces as a move between McCann and Sawyers broke down. At the other end Cairns picked out Kinney in the box who killed the ball brilliantly with his chest and as he tried to poke the ball home from six yards Shepherd managed to get a slight block and win Staunton enough time to clear the danger. Back up the field and Ryan Deas’ finish didn’t match the build-up play allowing McGarrity to make a comfortable save.
On 70 minutes Kinney sandwiched between Staunton and Evans was barged to the ground by the latter as the Glens striker tried to set himself up at the edge of the six yard box to head home Connolly’s cross. Evans escaped with a yellow card while Kinney’s spot-kick skimmed inches wide of the Shepherd’s right hand post, which the keeper appeared to have well covered. The ball was quickly dispatched up-field and McCann missed an opportunity to rub sea-salt in the home side’s wounds. Glens brought on Scott Adam for Alain Kinney and later Jamie McKernon had to hobble off and was replaced by Darren McGill.
Back on the front foot the home side pushed for a later winner only for Shepherd to pull off another two great saves – the first from a thunderous shot by Scott Adam at the edge of the box and the second a low angled drive from inside the box by Marlow. However, a minute from time the keeper could do nothing to stop a pile-driver from 22 yards out , through a packed penalty box, by midfielder Michael Wardrope.
There was to a be a sting in the tail when Meadow, with 10 out 10 leagues wins under their belt, won a free-kick at the edge of the box deep in stoppage time. Substitute Mark Thomson’s effort appeared to take a wicked deflection of the Glenafton wall before the ball settled in the corner of the net. F/T Glens 2 Meadow 2
Glenafton Athletic: McGarrity; Menzies, McChesney, McGeoghegan, Cairns; Wardrope, Marlow, McKernon (McGill), Strachan; Connolly (Orsi) and Kinney (Adam). Subs. Buchan (gk)
Irvine Meadow: Shepherd; McLennan (Flood), Staunton, Evans, Twaddle; McCann, McParland (Murch), Keenan, Sideserf; Deas and Sawyers (Thomson). Subs Pearson.
more photos here