Ardagh Cup Section 4 : Match 1
Saturday 8th August, Burnside Park, Muirkirk
MUIRKIRK JUNIORS 0 (0)
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 6 (4)
Glenafton began their defence of the Ardagh Cup with a visit to Muirkirk for the opening match of the section. Jamie McGeoghegan and Daniel Orsi were unavailable for selection while on the bench were new signings John Adam and John Paul Boyle, in his second spell at the club, while captaining Muirkirk was former Glens defender John McCaig.
Brian McGarrity had to be alert in the opening minute to grab the ball out the air as Muirkirk’s centre tried to guide a long through ball home. Some time would pass before the keeper was tested again as the Glens quickly took control of the game.
Back to back to corner kicks were earned by the visitors on 5 minutes with both cleared by the home defence. Two minutes later Ally Park on the overlap combined well with Joe Andrew before whipping a wicked ball into the box which was well gathered by the keeper.
Another excellent run by Park was ended on the outskirts of the box by another mistimed tackle that had become a feature of the game. Darren McGill stepped up and flashed the kick imto the rigging from 25 yards out to open the scoring on 11 minutes, despite the best efforts of the keeper.
Glens continued to press as Craig McGuffie tricked his way down the left flank to the bye-line only for his cut-back to be partially cleared and the ball gathered by Chris Malone to play a one-two deep in the box with Andrew but again the ball was blocked only to fall for Mick McCann and his angled shot from close range to be pushed wide by the keeper. Although the corner came to nothing the pressure continued to build and the keeper did well to race from his line and disarm the incoming McGuffie only for Jamie Hay to recover the ball and set Andrew free down the right to feed Park and whip another ball across the face of gaol where McCaig did enough to prevent McCann getting a touch.
On 16 minutes Andrew held the ball up at the corner of the box before releasing McGill on the overlap to square it for Park who made for the bye-line before turning his marker, switching to his left foot and with a delicate chip pick out Mick McCann to place his header home from the six yard line.
Two minutes later tempers frayed and Hay and McGill’s were both shown a yellow card for the reaction to some persistent fouling. Further cards followed for the home side as the game entered a scrappy period and tempers cooled.
McGuffie made good progress down the left and although his cross into the box was cleared Andrew quickly snapped up the ball and held off a defender before cutting the ball back for Mick McCann to nip in between two defenders and bag his brace from close range and put the Glens three up on 32 minutes.
Five minutes from the break Muirkirk created their best chance of the half only for Hay to intervene at the expense of a corner kick which was ended with the ball cleanly clutched under the bar by keeper McGarrity.
On the stroke of half time Chris Malone made it 4-0 with a low drilled shot from deep in the box through a ruck of players that caught the home defence off guard. H/T Muirkirk 0 Glenafton 4
The visitors brought on Ryan McChesney for Chris Meikle at the break and the big defender was soon in the thick off the action as Muirkirk came within a whisker of pulling one back. A break down the right ended with a ball to the back post where McChesney did enough to prevent the striker having a free shot at goal and instead his effort lacked power and Park was on the line to block the ball and clear to safety.
Indeed Muirkirk were left to rue the missed opportunity to claw one back and fell further behind as Glens broke upfield and although McCann’s effort cannoned of the advancing keeper high into the air Craig McGuffie kept his cool to trap the ball on its descent and slide it home to make it 5-0 on 47 minutes.
Two minutes later McCann’s cross field pass released McGill to break into the box only for the keeper to pull off a fine block from the midfielder’s low drive. The goalie then denied McCann from close range and could only watch as Hay’s deflected shot from distance zipped over the bar.
Midway through the half the Glens replaced goalscorers McGill and McGuffie with new signings John Adam and John Paul Boyle. The former Glens striker came close to making an immediate impact as he nipped in at the near post to guide home a cross from Park but again the keeper came out on top.
On 79 minutes the woodwork denied McCann his hat-trick after his cleverly curled shot from the corner of the box beat the keeper and crashed off the junction of bar and post.
Howver JP Boyle striker was in the right place at the right time to pounce and beat keeper and defender to the ball and tap home from two yards out.
McCann turned provider again with a quick break and a ball into the box for Andrew to gather and although he got the better of the defender the keeper did enough to get a hand to the ball and the chance was gone.
With 5 minutes to go Muirkirk carved out a decent chance and in his determination to get a touch on the ball the centre took a sore one and collided with the post, but thankfully recovered soon after. The home side’s keeper had the last say, getting down low to push Andrew’s angled drive past the post and the resultant corner-kick duly cleared.
F/T Muirkirk 0 Glenafton 6
- Other Section 4 scores: Cumnock 1 Auchinleck 3; Kello 1 Lugar 3 (at Lugar)
Glenafton Atheltic: McGarrity; Park, Menzies, Meikle (McChesney), Cairns; Hay, McGuffie (Adam), Malone; McGill (Boyle), McCann, Andrew.
More photos here