Thornton Hibs 1 Rutherglen Glencairn 0
Saturday 21st November 2020
Soccer Shop SFA South Region Challenge Cup Round One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Glencairn's first appearance in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup turned into a disappointment as they tumbled out of the competition after a disjointed performance away to East of Scotland Conference side Thornton Hibs.
Willie Harvey made four changes to the line up from last week's league win over Bonnyton Thistle. Scott McLellan replaced injured goalkeeper Garry Whyte, while Craig McGregor came into the defence with captain Tam Miller not yet fully recovered from the head knock he sustained last week. The other two changes saw last week's winning goal scorer Drew Wingate earn a starting berth at the expense of Sean McGuire, while Derek McNab came in up front to replace Liam Gormley who was unavailable for selection.
Thornton Hibs' team curiously had two unrelated strikers both called Garry Thomson. For the purposes of identification in this report they will be referred to as Thomson (9) and Thomson (10).
The match started at a furious pace, and Harry Mitchell tried his luck after only 16 seconds, firing a low angled shot on target which goalkeeper Jordan Millar saved well down low on his goal line. Thornton responded with a big miss in the 4th minute as Jamie McNeish cut in between McGregor and Scott Schoneville and set up Thomson (10) who sliced his shot high over the crossbar from 16 yards.
Glencairn burst straight back to the other end and Scott Schoneville went close after cutting past his marker, firing a right footed shot narrowly wide of goal from 18 yards. A lovely passing move involving Tommy Lone, Jay McKay, McNab and Harry Mitchell ended with Mitchell firing just over the crossbar in the 6th minute as the all-action start to the match continued.
The hosts took the lead in the 7th minute as Glencairn's defence was caught out by a clever reverse pass over his head by Thomson (10), giving Garry Thomson (9) time and space to pick his spot in the net as he passed it away from McLellan's reach.
Thornton could have increased their lead in the minutes following the goal, with Thomson (10) released through the middle only for Keirin Coleman to show good pace to get back and snuff out the danger, followed by Thomson (9) firing wide when he really should have hit the target again.
Glencairn should have been level in the 18th minute as they missed what can only be described as "a sitter". Coleman and Schoneville linked well on the left edge of the penalty area, and Schoneville's low cross seemed like it was laid on a plate for McNab to score, but he snatched at his effort and turned the ball wide of the post.
Thomson (9) went close again for Hibs as he found space inside the penalty area, but once again he fired off target to the relief of the black and white defence. The uncertainty of the swirling wind was causing problems for both teams, and it created another opportunity for Thornton in the 33rd minute as the defence didn't clear a high ball, allowing Andrew Adam the chance to shoot from 20 yards, but he pulled his effort wide of the near post.
There was controversy in the 37th minute as McKay appeared to be hauled down right on the edge of the penalty area, with shouts for a penalty kick from the Glencairn contingent. The referee blew for a foul, but took the easy option of awarding a free kick two yards outside the penalty area, pretending that the foul wasn't as close to the line as it actually was. Schoneville fired the free kick into the defensive wall and the opportunity to equalise was lost.
An equaliser seemed certain in the 40th minute, only for another opportunity to be spurned in front of goal. Tommy Lone's free kick picked out the diving head of McKay whose bullet header was parried out by Millar, with McNab frustratingly unable to turn the rebound on target from three yards out. It was all Glencairn pressure now, though, and Schoneville's corner in the 41st minute almost dropped straight into the net, Millar somehow scrambling the ball out down low on the goal line.
Half time : 1-0
The Glens' pack was shuffled at the interval as the shape changed to 4-4-2, with McGregor withdrawn from the defence and replaced in midfield by Michael Lone making his first appearance of the season after a recent hamstring strain.
Michael Lone made an immediate impact on the game as his powerful running to support the strikers introduced a different problem for the Hibs' defence. Michael Lone turned away from his marker in the 50th minute and set up McNab in space for a shot, but it just wasn't the striker's best afternoon as he sliced his shot from 18 yards well off target.
The threat on the break from Thornton was still evident in the 55th minute as Thomson (10) chased a lost cause towards the corner flag and retrieved the ball, before turning inside and firing into the side netting. Stuart Drummond tried a volley on the turn just before the hour mark for the hosts, but his decent attempt flew a couple of yards too high.
The Glens went close on the hour mark as a delicious cross by Jackson Biggar was begging to be converted as it flew across goal, but Mitchell couldn't get enough on the ball at the back post as Thornton's stubborn defence continued to excel.
There was a blow for Hibs in the 63rd minute as goalkeeper Jordan Millar had to be helped from the field with a leg muscle injury, and he was replaced by Ryan Linton. It didn't appear to weaken the hosts at all, though, as the man who came on was wearing the no.1 shirt, replacing the no.20.
Michael Lone continued to threaten with his surging runs, and he almost pulled The Glens level as strode forward through the inside left position and cut inside before firing inches wide of goal from 18 yards.
A double change with 17 minutes remaining was in the hope of changing the game in Glencairn's favour. Kieran Hannaway replaced the out-of-sorts McNab, while Sean McGuire came into the midfield in place of hard-working Tommy Lone.
Hannaway almost made a quick impact as he pulled a fine save out of Linton in the 76th minute. Another surge forward by Michael Lone saw the ball break into Hannaway's path, and he quickly turned and fired on target, only for Linton to block with his legs, and McKay couldn't direct the rebound effort on target from 22 yards.
It was beginning to look like The Glens could play till this time next week and not score, it just wasn't happening for them in front of goal. Michael Lone was the architect again as he set up McKay for a low angled shot which pulled another save out of Linton.
McLellan at the other end was a virtual spectator, with only a few crosses to handle in the second half as Thornton Hibs were now pretty much camped in. Kieron Maxwell was brought on to replace Wingate in midfield to try to give something different, but time was now running out all too fast.
Mitchell's inswinging free kick in the 84th minute caused concern in the home defence, but Stuart Drummond did just enough to knock the ball away before anybody in black and white hoops could react to the loose ball. The resulting corner kick by Schoneville was flicked on by McKay but the ball looped up and onto the roof of the net.
The hosts were reduced to ten men in the 89th minute as Daniel McNab was shown a second yellow card in a short space of time but, with the home defence still resolute and set, it seemed unlikely to make any difference to the outcome.
Five minutes were added on by the referee after the injury to Millar and the substitutions, and The Glens were to have another couple of opportunities. Michael Lone fired an effort on target but it didn't have anywhere near enough power to trouble Linton, before Biggar's cushioned header almost set up Coleman in the 95th minute, only for Stuart Drummond to intercept.
And so The Glens bowed out of the South Challenge Cup at their first attempt, and it was a disappointing afternoon for the committee members who had been fortunate to be given SFA and Scottish Government permission to travel to the match.
Thornton Hibs :- Millar, Ford, McMillan, Stuart Drummond, Adam Drummond, Adam, McNeish, Hain, Garry Thomson (9), Garry Thomson (10), McNab. (Subs - Hoskisson, Coleman, Wilson, Rolland, Mackie, Robertson, Linton.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- McLellan, Coleman, McGregor (Michael Lone), Schoneville, O'Byrne, Wingate (Maxwell), Biggar, Tommy Lone (McGuire), McNab (Hannaway), McKay, Mitchell. (Subs not used - Shields, Cochrane, Kerr.)
Man of the match - (chosen by Peter Ferguson) Jay McKay.