|Friendly (Closed Doors)||12/09/2020||Loch Park, New Cumnock|
|Glenfton Athletic||2 (1)||Murphy (37), Andrew (66)|
|Muirkirk Juniors||1 (1)||Gordon (27)|
Glenafton Athletic began life under the West of Scotland Football League (WOSFL) banner with a friendly against Muirkirk Juniors. The match was played behind closed doors at Loch Park in accordance with the current Covid-19 guidelines. Both clubs are to be congratulated on their pre-match preparations to ensure they complied with the guidelines including the Glens gate staff confirming only those allowed entry gained entry, as well as checking their temperature … a first for New Cumnock!
Both teams arrived at the grounds in their strips and had allocated sections of the ground to prepare for the match. Substitutes were allocated socially distanced spaces in the Mick Morran Stand. Spare a thought too for the match referee, with no assistants and a multitude of substitutions to manage througout the game.
Of course the first game of the season also provided the opportunity to welcome the summer signings to the club. Returning to the Glens for a second spell were midfielders Leon Murphy and Dean Hawkshaw along with defender Rhys Wallace who trained with the club last season. Making up the new faces were keeper Michael McKinven, midfielder Evan Maley, striker Ross Cameron and player-coach Tony McParland.
And so to the match. It was the WOSFL Tier 6 Glenafton Athletic that dominated the early play against their Tier 7 Conference A counterparts Muirkirk Juniors. A first minute corner kick was cleanly clutched by Muirkirk’s keeper Nathan Bogle and soon after he made a fine save from McParland’s curled shot from the edge of the box, after he had run onto a perfect through ball from Craig Pettigrew. Cameron then held off two defenders to lay the ball back to Dale Moore to lash an angled shot from 20 yards that Bogle pushed high into the air before recovering the loose ball.
On 10 minutes Lee Gallacher won another corner kick and played it short to Wallace on the right flank who squared to Cameron Marlow to thump a low shot from outside the box but again the keeper came out on top. Another short corner, from the left, saw the ball eventually fall for Murphy on the outskirts of the six yard box and although he slipped the ball past the advancing goalie it drifted inches wide of the back post.
Glens continued to press as Muirkirk were content to sit in. Chances from set pieces continued to come and ago while Bogle continued to pull off some decent saves. Midway through the half he made an excellent block to prevent Moore from breaking the deadlock.
The visitors began to venture forward with some neat touches and powerful running from their bustling centre forward Aidan Ferris. Pettigrew was forced to track back to break up an attack deep in the Glens box. He then mopped up the loose ball to set up a counter-attack which saw Murphy, not once but twice, whip a dangerous ball into the box, the latter of which saw Bogle pull off a point blank save a close range bullet header.
On 27 minutes Muirkirk broke upfield once again. Ferris threaded a perfectly paced forward pass for Nathan Gordon to chase down and as the Glens defence were caught out expecting play to stop for offside (as did the photographer!) the midfielder gathered the ball and lashed an unstoppable shot from 14 yards into the top corner of the net.
Glens were soon back on the front foot and although they forced another corner kick and tried shots from distance it was a confident Muirkirk that carved out another great chance as Gordon turned provider with a fine pass to release Ferris upfield; only for a tight call of offside to halt his free run into the box.
Sustained pressure from the Glens was met with a well drilled defence and a keeper on top of his game. Cameron and Alan Cairns combined down the left before the latter whipped a dangerous ball to the back post only for Bogle to rise and grab it with both hands under pressure from the incoming Moore.
Nevertheless the Glens finally got the better of the gallant goalie on 37 minutes after Gallacher released Leon Murphy with a killer pass that allowed the midfielder to run unimpeded into the box and coolly pick his spot to roll the ball past the advancing Bogle and into the net.
The remaining chances of the half were shared with McKinven saving a low drilled shot from the lively Gavin Goodall while at the other end a pair of shots from Cameron were well held by the keeper. A couple of corner kicks from Muirkirk came to nothing while Pettigrew’s free kick from outside the box thundered off the brave wall.
HT Glens 1 Muirkirk 1
The Glens made five changes at the break with Edward Campbell, Dean Hawkshaw, Evan Maley, Joe Andrew and Mick McCann replacing Alan Cairns, Dale Moore, Tony McParland, Leon Murphy & Ross Cameron.
First chance of the half fell to the visitors with Gordon’s low angled shot from outside the box whizzing past the far post. At the other end McCann showed defender Josh Rodgers a clean pair of heels as he charged to the edge of the box only for Bogle to rush from his line and kick the ball upfield, taking a painful knock in the process.
The home side turned up the heat as Maley twisted and turned his way into the box and set up Marlow for a cross that was cut out for a corner kick. This was the first of three in a row during which period a Craig Menzies header from close range was headed off the line and over the bar and then Andrew’s low shot through a crowded box was stopped by Bogle.
Maley’s deflected shot from outside the box earned another corner kick for the Glens which was headed on by Menzies and fell for Pettigrew but his hook shot to flew wide of the back post. Maley then whipped a great ball into the box only for Andrew’s attempt to guide it home slip wide. From a corner kick Gallacher played a neat one-two with Hawkshaw before floating the ball to the back post and although it was partially cleared it was recovered by Andrew to fire a fierce shot which whizzed over the corner of post and bar. Hawkshaw’s shot from outside the box suffered a similar fate.
Respite for Muirkirk on 58 minutes after Ferris’s determination won his side a corner which was met at the back post by Calum Bryan only for his header to sail high over the bar. Glens responded with a corner of their own which Bogle cleanly gathered at the near post. He then got down low to save Hawkshaw’s low shot from 22 yards. Soon after he pushed McCann’s shot wide for another corner kick which was comfortably cleared.
Muirkirk countered with a well worked move down the right flank ending with Ferris clipping a marvellous ball to the far post for the incoming Dillon McLauchlan only for Wallace to time his tackle to perfection at the expense of a corner which was headed clear by McCann.
Glens immediately broke upfield and there was McCann in the six yard box to get on the end of a super ball from Gallacher to head it down for Joe Andrew to get the jump on Josh Rodgers to guide the ball home. Muirkirk’s claims for offside were waved away and the home side were now ahead on 67 minutes.
Soon after the visitors made the last of their substitutions including replacing keeper Nathan Bogle with John Fleming.
Glens continued to enjoy much of the possession and the best of the build up play with some fine passing play on a difficult surface. Chances were thin on the ground at either end in the closing stages the best of which fell to McCann just before the final whistle only for Fleming to pull of a great save.
FT Glens 2 Muirkirk 1
|1. Michael McKniven 2. Rhys Wallace 4. Alan Cairns (5. Edward Campbell) 6. Craig Menzies 3. Craig Pettigrew 7. Cameron Marlow 14. Dale Moore (8. Dean Hakshaw) 9. Tony McParland (12. Evan Maley) 18. Ross Cameron (16. Joe Andrew) 10. Leon Murphy (15. Mick McCann) 11. Lee Gallacher|
|1. Nathan Bogle 2. Lee Cruickshanks 3. Josh Rodgers 4. Calum Bryan 6. Peter Marshall 8. Dean Patrick 9. Aidan Ferris 10. Nathan Gordon 12. Josh Rodgers 14. Darryl Still 15. Gary Nugent 17. Ross Gemmell 18. Jason McCuaig 21. John Fleming 23. Gavin Goodall 27. Dillon McLauchlan 37. Ryan Cowie 77. Martin McAdam|