Troon 1 Rutherglen Glencairn 0
Saturday 12th December 2020 - PDM Buildbase WoSFL Premier Division
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
It was a much-improved performance by Glencairn as they were unfortunate to go down to a single goal defeat away to new league leaders Troon, courtesy of a hotly disputed penalty kick. The decisive moment of the match was only one of a number of decisions which the match referee will not look back on with pride when he reviews the video highlights.
The Glens' management stuck with the same 4-2-3-1 shape as had been employed for last week's defeat away to previous league leaders Clydebank, but half of the outfield starting ten were changed as Willie Harvey looked to get a reaction after the poor showing at Holm Park. It's fair to say that the gaffer will have been much happier with what he saw this afternoon, although the result was obviously not what everyone connected to the club was hoping for.
It was a bright start from Glencairn, and they almost took the lead after only two minutes. Dale Simeon surged forward and fed Harry Mitchell wide on the left (pictured above). Simeon continued his run into the box and was picked out by a perfect cross by Mitchell, but Troon goalkeeper Ross Lundy spread himself to deny Simeon from right in front of the target when a goal had seemed a certainty.
Troon's first attempt on goal came in the 9th minute as Ryan Stevenson cut in from the left and fired an angled shot which rose a couple of yards over Scott McLellan's crossbar. The hosts were having more possession and territorial advantage early on, but The Glens were looking the more threatening side in possession as swift counter attacks were causing the home defence concern.
There were strong appeals for a penalty kick when Mitchell latched onto Simeon's pass and went down under a challenge by Isaac Kerr, but the referee wasn't interested and waved play on.
Simeon almost turned the key of the defence with an exquisite pass which almost set up McNab for a tap-in in the 19th minute, only for central defender James McGowan to get the slightest of touches to the ball at full stretch to divert the ball out of the striker's reach and into the grateful arms of Lundy.
Having saved his side at one end, McGowan became a threat at the other end a minute later as his net-bound header from a corner was hooked off the goal line by Craig McGregor. Troon were having a good spell now, and good tracking work by Drew Wingate snuffed out the danger of Ray Montgomerie's late run to the near post after Todd Henderson's run and cross down the right flank.
McLellan had to be aware in the 29th minute as Jaime Gallagher's corner almost went straight into the net, McLellan palming the ball out from under the crossbar and then reacting well to save Isaac Kerr's rebound effort from a tight angle.
The first yellow card of the match arrived in the 31st minute as McGowan fouled Wingate on the edge of the penalty area. It started a chain reaction for the referee who, for the rest of the game, seemed to be on a mission to show as many players a yellow card as he could for the most minor of offences. McNab's free kick effort picked out the top left hand corner of the goal, but the shot didn't have enough pace to seriously test Lundy.
Troon made an early tactical change as Jordan Morton was brought on to replace Josh Black after only 38 minutes. Glencairn continued to play confidently, though, and Wingate set up Keirin Coleman for a shot which was sliced well off target from 25 yards.
The referee continued to flash cards to players on both sides, the latest being given to Glencairn captain Tam Miller for what appeared to be a clean tackle by Wingate. Miller seemed bemused about the decision, the referee ignoring calls from the sidelines to advise him that he was booking the wrong man. The resulting free kick by Morton was deflected on its way towards goal, and McLellan saw the ball late but soon enough to kick the ball off the line instead of grabbing it. But at least he did his job and kept it out of the net !
Half time : 0-0
Troon made a second substitution at half time with assistant manager Dean Keenan not hiding his thoughts as his team talk echoed around Portland Park for everyone to hear. Striker Alan Frizzell came on to replace midfielder Scott Chatham in another change of shape from the home side, while Glencairn stuck with the shape and personnel which had been working well so far.
The Glens started the second half on the front foot, and Mitchell set up McNab for an angled volley which pulled a fine diving save out of Lundy, palming it round the post for a corner kick. The resulting cross picked out Miller's head at the back post but he couldn't direct the ball on target.
More pressure from Glencairn saw Wingate's shot blocked by team mate Coleman, and then Coleman's effort on the turn deflected on its way through to Lundy saving down low on his goal line. The referee clearly wasn't content with just showing yellow to any player who committed a foul, so Troon assistant manager Dean Keenan was next to see the yellow flashed above his head as he vented his frustration at the whistler's performance.
McLellan wasn't having much to do in the second half to this point, but he was called into the action in the 56th minute as he dived to his left to parry away Stevenson's angled free kick from 20 yards. McNab was next into the referee's notebook for a late tackle on Jack Sherrie on the halfway line, a moment which was to be significant later on in the match.
The match was finely balanced and could swing either way as it moved past the hour mark. Tommy Lone fired a shot from distance which was watched all the way by Lundy and saved on his goal line, but it was another effort on target.
The Glens had to go down to ten men temporarily as Mick O'Byrne was receiving treatment off the pitch, and he was unable to continue so was replaced by Scott Schoneville, with Miller moving into central defence beside McGregor.
Jackson Biggar's low angled cross in behind the defence in the 65th minute almost picked out the stretching leg of McNab, but again the ball was just out of the reach of the striker and Lundy grabbed it.
After another yellow card spree by the referee (three in as many minutes) The Glens were shouting for a penalty again. Mitchell's cross from the left was sliced in the air by defender Isaac Kerr, and Lundy's punched clearance from under his crossbar only cleared the danger momentarily. As the ball was recycled to Wingate his shot appeared to strike an arm, but the appeals from the Glencairn contingent once again fell on deaf ears.
The decisive moment of the match came in the 73rd minute as McGowan went down under a challenge by Wingate inside the penalty area, and the referee reacted to a rather half-hearted appeal for a penalty by whistling and pointing to the spot. The furious Glencairn players disputed the decision hotly, but there was no changing the referee's mind, and Ryan Stevenson fired confidently past McLellan to put Troon on schedule to the top of the league table. The referee hadn't finished there, though, and he showed a red card to Glencairn manager Willie Harvey who continued to make his feelings crystal clear about the decision and the referee's performance.
Troon's final change saw Louis Kerr replace Stevenson, while Glencairn withdrew Tommy Lone and threw on an extra striker with Jay McKay joining McNab up front. That partnership didn't last long, though, as McNab said something out of turn to the referee and the trigger-happy whistler produced another yellow card for the striker and the subsequent red card.
Glencairn's chances were pretty much gone now with only five minutes left to play and down to ten men, and Louis Kerr almost increased the lead in the 89th minute with a run and shot which flew a yard wide of McLellan's right hand post.
The referee continued to show yellow cards right into stoppage time, some of them quite bizarre, and the laughter from the terracing where both sets of committee members were gathered told you everything you needed to know about some of the decisions.
The Glens continued to try for an equaliser deep into added time, but the closest they came was a low cross by Schoneville in the 93rd minute which Isaac Kerr turned over his own crossbar.
So it was a fourth defeat in a row for The Glens, but there was much to be encouraged by in this performance, a huge improvement on the previous week's capitulation. It has been a tough run of fixtures to start the league season for The Glens, with the last three fixtures all being against the two unbeaten teams at the top of the league who have won all but one of their 11 games in total. Next up it's another tough task at home to Darvel, another team who consider themselves as title contenders, but if today's improvement is carried forward to next week then there's every chance we'll get the break we deserve.
Troon :- Lundy, Isaac Kerr, Sherrie, McGowan, Chatham (Frizzell), Montgomerie, Stevenson (Louis Kerr), Henderson, Fulton, Black (Morton), Gallagher. (Subs not used - Lusk, Roberts, Nisbet, Fraser (gk).)
Rutherglen Glencairn :- McLellan, Biggar, Miller, McGregor, O'Byrne (Schoneville), Coleman, Tommy Lone (McKay), Wingate, McNab, Simeon, Mitchell. (Subs not used - McGuire, Quinn, Maxwell, Kerr, Whyte (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Andy Handlin) Jackson Biggar.