Stagecoach Western Super League Premier Division : Match 20
Saturday 4th April, Loch Park , New Cumnock
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 2 (2)
ARTHURLIE 2 (1)
Glenafton made a number of changes to the side that won at Shotts with captain Craig Menzies , Jamie Hay and Brian McGarrity all returning while Ryan McChesney was unavailable for selection and Craig McGuffie and keeper David Buchanan were on the bench.
The hosts made the early running with former Arthurlie player Joe Andrew proving a handful down the left flank. The midfielder had an early header that went wide and later left a defender floored as he jinked his way into the box before the ball was cleared. Andrew gathered the ball from the resultant throw-in and gave Gavin Rushford the slip at the corner of the penalty box before whipping the ball across the face of goal where Alain Kinney stole in between two defenders to lash home from 6 yards and put the home side ahead on 5 minutes.
Although the visitors looked decidedly uncomfortable at the back during the opening encounters they saw plenty of the ball going forward and forced a string of corner-kicks the most threatening of which on 15 minutes concluded with Eddie McTernan firing wide of target. Two minutes later at the other end Andrew collected a throw-in and held off the challenge of Kevin Green at the bye-line before hooking the ball back into the heart of the goal only for Mark Blakey to head clear as Kinney threatened to strike again.
On 20 minutes the home side doubled their lead after Daniel Orsi got the better off Blakey in an aerial battle on the 18 yard line and Joe Andrew got the jump on Rushford to collect the knock-down and make for the left edge of the six yard box before clipping the ball beyond keeper Michael White from a tight angle.
Two minutes later Kinney won the ball in the centre circle, pushed forward and took a couple of defenders out of the play with a cute ball to Jamie McKernon on the left only for his cross to go just beyond the incoming red shirts and the ball clutched cleanly by White. In an excellent passage of play Alan Cairns deep on the left played a one-two with McKernon to break into the middle of the park before picking out Michael Wardrope on the right who in turn fed the overlapping Orsi tight on the touchline to fire the ball into the box only for Rushford to get in front of Andrew on this occasion and head the ball clear.
The tide however turned in favour of the visitors in dramatic fashion in the closing 15 minutes of the half. The ‘Lie were beginning to carve out some dangerous chances and good work down the right by Connor McGlinchey set up McTernan in the box who darted between two defenders before curling a sweet shot for the top corner which, with the keeper beaten, went inches wide of target. Corner-kicks came and went with Jamie McGeoghegan and Craig Menzies mopping up the aftermath of consecutive scrambles in the Glens’ box. Keeper Brian McGarrity made light work of a low drilled shot by Ryan McGregor from 15 yards and then had his fingers warmed by an angled drive from McTernan.
At the other end Andrew earned a corner kick which was partially cleared and Orsi’s attempt to bury the loose ball from 18 yards out was blocked by a ruck of players. Back came Arthurlie and on 42 minutes Allan McPherson’s ball into the box was chased down by McTernan and defender Chris Meikle while McGarrity raced from his line, seconds later all three were on the ground with the ball in the keeper’s hands. Meikle’s pleas that he had got a touch to the ball were waved away and after he had been shown a red card Connor McGlinchley kept his cool to send McGarrity the wrong way from the penalty spot.
A minute later and the drama intensified when Craig Palmer, deep in his own half, fouled Wardrope and the young midfielder’s reaction earned him a straight red card and Glenafton were down to 9 men with half the game to go. H/T Glenafton 2 Arthurlie 1
Craig McEwan had to shuffle the pack with Kinney now the lone front man and the attacking menace of Andrew and Orsi on the flanks diluted as they slotted into more defensive roles. Although the Glens won an early corner kick the visitors with their two man advantage soon stamped their authority on the match and but for a stunning save by McGarrity from a powerful McGregor shot would have been level two minutes after the restart.
The visitors were making use of both flanks as they tried to spread the Glens thin red line even thinner but McGeoghan, Menzies and Jamie Hay were holding their own in the aerial battles for the balls fired into the box from open play and a host of corner kicks. Rhys Devlin fashioned a couple of good chances from open play, the first drilled low and inches wide of the post and the second skewed wide of the other post. Substitute Gary Smith then headed wide after fine build up play down the right.
Remarkably the Glens had the ball in the net on the hour mark. Lone wolf Kinney hunted down a long through ball that evaded Devlin at the edge of the box and his challenge on White ended with the keeper dropping the ball and the striker burying the loose ball, only for the assistant referee’s flag to deflate the celebrations.
On 63 minutes Arthurlie were back on level terms. McTernan’s tenacity won him the ball in a busy box before he picked out Ryan McCardle with space and time to thrash a swerving shot that saw the ball explode off the inside of the post before nestling in the back of the net. The crestfallen red shirts scattered about the box slowly picked themselves up and regrouped to face the revitalised visitors. Two minutes later Devlin at last found the target with a blast from the edge of the box only for McGarrity to block it with both hands before smothering the loose ball. The keeper then palmed the ball from the head of MacPherson and Menzies was at hand to hoof the ball clear.
Some respite for the home side with Andrew foraging up the left only to be repelled by a bank of blue shirts. He then combined with Kinney who switched the ball to the right for McKernon to make a lung bursting run into the box and win the home side a precious corner-kick. A scramble in the box ensued and although McGeoghegan held off defenders the ball would not sit nicely to allow a shot at goal. Kinney and McKernon double-teamed on the outskirts of the box as ‘attack became the best form of defence’ for the depleted home side and another corner was earned. McKernon’s kick was won in the air by Kinney, out-jumping four blue shirts, only for the ball to fly over White’s bar.
At the other end the Glens’ defence, grateful for the breather, were soon back to keeping the squadron of blue shirts from getting behind their lines, with Cairns making a crucial block on Smith.With three minutes to go Kinney left to rapturous applause from the home support to be replaced with Aaron Connolly welcomed by an equally loud reception.
Arthurlie’s attempts to unpick the home rear-guard had by now hit a brick wall and it was the home side that looked more energetic up front. McKernon’s unstoppable engine as he chased down another long clearance forced White to sprint from his line and blast the ball out the park. Connolly gathered the throw in and turned his marker before striking the ball from the corner of the penalty box, one of his favourite spots, only for the ball to sail high over the bar. The visitors had time for one final attack and a low angled drive by Devlin was blocked by McGarrity and cleared by McGeoghegan.
The final whistle, if truth be told, came as a relief to both sides. Glenafton, on their last home league game of the season, were given a tremendous ovation as they headed for a clubhouse by their supporters appreciative of the fantastic efforts of the nine men on the day and for the team throughout the season. F/T Glenafton 2 Arthurlie 2
Glenafton Athletic: McGarrity; McGeoghegan, Menzies, Meikle, Cairns; Orsi, Hay, McKernon, Wardrope; Kinney (Connolly) & Andrew. Subs. McGuffie, Thomson, Buchanan (gk)
Arthurlie: White; Rushford, Palmer, Devlin, Green, Blakey, McGlinchey, McGregor, MacPherson, McTernan, McArdle subs Stewart, Smith, Rafferty, Lyden, Mailey (GK)
More photos here