EAST KILBRIDE THISTLE FC
East Kilbride 3 Rutherglen Glencairn 1
Sectional League Cup
Saturday 19 August 2017
by Martin Sutherland
Its been a long 7yrs since Thistle last beat Glencairn in the Sectional League Cup and in the process have fallen foul to several humiliating defeats including an 8-1 and two 6-0 reversals. Thistle however this season have turned things on their head and at last won the Century Cup to lift their second piece of silverware of the season with goals from Kevin McLean and Scott Hadden. Thistle made three changes from midweek including a suspended Dougie Ryan and the Glens made 7 changes in a tousley game that included 10 bookings.
The Glens were the first to pose any threat and did so inside 4mins as a ball through by Gary Smith turned the ball home from a Fraser Team pass but was deemed to be offside in the process. Thistle responded a few minutes later with a Hadden free kick that keeper Kevin McAllister turned away for a corner. Both teams settled down as the game flowed from end to end in an even encounter with neither keeper really being called into action as both defences stood firm in thwarting any attacks. On 17mins the Glens carved out a decent chance as Bennett chipped the ball beyond the Thistle defence only for Smith to power his header wide of the target. Glens then created another couple of half chances as Fraser Team shot wide then had another cross to the back post drift wide before Thistle hit back from a free kick. Taken quickly the ball was played wide right to Hadden who left Njabulo Ndlovu with his legs tied together before firing a shot at McAllister’s front post that was pushed away. With 25mins on the clock Thistle got their noses in front from the feet of Kevin McLean. A long ball from Ross Gillan found McLean on a run McLean and beating the offside trap he first timed it beyond McAllister from 15yrds. 2mins later Glens tried their hand again as Thistle keeper Gary Noble took no chance with a Bennett shot that he tipped over the bar. Glens however got back on level terms on 30mins with a well-executed goal from the head of Gary Smith. Having put the Thistle defence under pressure the ball was eventually delivered from the left by Derek McNab to the back post for Smith to head down and in for a well deserved equaliser. Straight from the restart Thistle nearly good back in front after clever play by Hadden and Matt Gray down the right playing the ball to Kevin McLean but his chip beyond the keeper was cleared by Craig McGregor with Scott Gillespie bearing down on him. Both teams then had a go from free kicks in the closing stages of the half but couldn’t quite keep them on target as they blasted the balls out the park without threatening the respective keepers. As it was going in at the break on level terms was fair to both sides.
Thistle were the first to threaten in the second half as on 47mins Glens keeper McAllister was quick off his line to save at the feet of Faulds after good linking play down the left from Joe McIntosh, Kevin McLean and Ally Morgan. Thistle threatened again a short time later as Hadden cleverly released Gillespie on the overlap on the right but his cross was cut out with Faulds again jostling for possession. The Glens tried to hit back though as a corner was headed wide by Sean MCguire. Thistle then began to control the game as the second half wore on and came close again as Hadden and Kevin McLean combined on the left working the ball to the edge of the Glens box releasing David McKean whose shot was parried by keeper McAllister . A minute later Hadden collected a throw and from the byeline clipped the ball to the back post but no Thistle player on hand to take advantage. Thistle now began to turn the screw as they grew in confidence with Kevin McLean latching onto a long kick from Noble but as he chested the ball down he couldn’t make the connection with the ball as he was crowded out by the Glens defence. Glens however were far from a spent force as they came close with 15mins left. Sub Ryan McCardle fed Graham Boyd in the left and as he turned inside the box he curled a shot narrowly beyond Noble’s far post. Within a minute however Thistle had their noses in front again this time from Hadden. Faulds operating now on the left found Hadden on a run into the box and deftly touched the ball through to him, selling the keeper a dummy he cut back across the face of goal and again selling a second dummy to Andrew Neil coolly slotted the ball into an empty net. Thistle weren’t finished as 4mins later they put the game to bed with a goal from Kevin McLean. A poor kick out from McAllister was headed out to Hadden by McKean and this time he found Kevin McLean on the run through the heart of Glens defence. Skipping beyond a challenge from Rhys Donaldson he drove the ball beyond McAllister to give Thistle a two goal cushion going into the last 10mins of the game. Try as they might the Glens couldn’t get back at Thistle as the home side closed them out . The closest they got was Jason McKay attempying to force his way through the Thistle defnce but Gillan was on hand to mop the danger up and clear the ball to safety and a minute later a weak Team shot that was easily stopped at the near post by Noble. Thistle held out though for a deserved win.
A closely fought contest especially in the first half with both sides creating chances. While Glencairn looked better on the ball it was Thistle who were more decisive in front of goal and looked more threatening in the penalty area. An excellent result for Thistle who can count themselves unfortunate not to have taken anything from their opening games but made amends with two good victories in the last two games. Thistle in this competition and indeed in the pre season games showed that they have the ability and players to play a flowing style of football that is entertaining to watch and if they can take that form into the league campaign then they may surprise a few devotees of the game. Thistle start their league quest next week against Shotts at the Showpark with a 2pm ko.
East Kilbride Thistle
Noble, Gray, C McLean, McIntosh, Gillan, McKean, Morgan (Thomson), Hadden, K McLean (Bryce), Faulds (Barclay), Gillespie.
Subs not used Bain, White
McAllister, McGregor, Neil, Donaldson, Ndlovu, McGuire, Hall (McArdle), Bennett (McKay), Smith (Boyd), Team, McNab
Subs not used Grier, Fraser
East Kilbride Thistle Football Club
Showpark, 17 Maxwell Drive,
East Kilbride, G74 4HG
Tel: 07954 309949 (Peter Kelsall)