Match Report - Larkhall Thistle
Larkhall Thistle 1 - 2 Blantyre Victoria
Thistle: Harry Galloway (59')
Vics: Greg Fernie (12'), Keirin Coleman (90+2')
It was first versus second in group 14 of the Sectional League Cup as Blantyre Vics travelled to Gasworks park to face a Larkhall Thistle side fresh off a 3-0 victory against East Kilbride.
The home-side started on the front foot as they played a ball over the top of the Vics defense, to their centre-forward who lobbed the ball over Vics keeper Scott Johnson but the referee raised his arm aloft to disallow the goal for offside.
MacDonald was soon at the other end charging towards goal from the left wing. The winger's effort was denied by the Larkhall keeper. Shortly after Johnson was called into action in the Vics goal as he tipped over a headed effort from close range.
In the 12th minute it was the Vics who broke the deadlock. MacDonald pressed the opposition centre-half well on the wing forcing him into a mistake of playing the ball to trialist Greg Fernie. The goal gaped for the striker as the Thistle keeper was trying to retreat to his goal, but Fernie struck the ball well to open the scoring.
19 minutes in Keirin Coleman came close after MacDonald linked up well with Martin Smith who whipped a ball into the box. Coleman rose and contested for the ball mid-air with the Jags goalkeeper. The ball then fell to Aaron Black at the back-post and his eventual shot was wide of the target, from tight angle.
Just a few minutes later Larkhall had their best chance of the half as their full-back tested the woodwork with a low driven shot that smacked off the post - with Johnson left helpless. The Vics soon countered. Gavin Millar drove with the ball from the left, before curling a right-footed shot towards the bottom corner, but his effort was denied by the outstretched leg of the goalkeeper. The ball then fell on a plate for Black who powered a shot towards goal but it was cleared off the line by the Larkhall No.2.
Ten minutes from half-time Lewis MacDonald was played through by Black, as he sprinted to reach the ball he was able to extend his leg to make contact with the ball in front of goal. Although, he was unable to steer it goalwards and it continued to climb over the bar.
Larkhall came out firing in the beginning of the second half and the Vics had their backs to the wall. In the 59th minute Larkhall Thistle got the equaliser that was probably deserved. A cross came into the box from the right and was headed towards goal by Harry Galloway and Scott Johnson was unable to stop it as it tucked in at the bottom corner.
In the final 15 minutes Larkhall's keeper was proving how crucial he was to their side as he pulled off three great saves to deny Aaron Black his goal. Firstly in the 75th minute as he halted a shot from the winger from close range as he was driving in from the left. Just a few minutes later he tipped over another of Black's efforts and then in the 82nd minute Black was played through by Ross Caldwell but yet again he pulled out a splendid save.
As both sides were preparing to take a point and go to penalties for a bonus point Vics snatched the win at the death. Aaron Black curled in a cross to the danger area, the ball sailed past everyone in the box and found Keirin Coleman at the back-post who turned the ball into the back of the net from close range.
A big three points for the Vics but they did not make it easy for themselves. They now move on to East Kilbride Thistle on Wednesday in which they only need one point to secure qualification to the last sixteen. Larkhall will need to take three points from Rutherglen Glencairn and hope E.K. can beat the Vics at Showpark.