Auchinleck Talbot 2 GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 4
Scorers: Houston 2, Agnew 2
The Glens went into this opening encounter as clear underdogs against a Talbot side that finished as Ayrshire top-dogs in the Premier League last season. Although this was not a walkie in the park the Glens deservedly came out on top and tamed the Talbot on their own patch. A host of new faces lined up for the Glens and all made signiifcant contributions, none more so than Willie Howie, a terrier throughout the ninety-minutes.
However, it was Stevie Agnew and the returning prodigal son Scott Houston that shared the 'best in show' prize in the goal-scoring category, each notching two goals ; whilst their counter-part former Glens player-manager Stevie Mallan failed to find the net in his competitive Talbot debut. It was not through the want of trying on Mallan's part as Talbot enjoyed much of the early territorial advantage. However, he was kept at heel by Rickie Robb and John McCaig in the centre of the Glens defence and he became increasingly agitated, pleading with his new team-mates to keep the ball on the deck but his plea fell on deaf ears much to the joy of Robb in particular.
The Glens had to resort to route-one football at times with Gary Matthews in goal or Dave Stewart launching long balls into the Talbot box, for Houston and Craig Bingham to chase. However with a strong wind at their backs the long balls were generally too long, and the Glens adjusted accordingly allowing Willie Howie and Marc Cleeland to come more into the game. After some slack defending by the Talbot defence the ball fell perfectly at the feet of Houston, and with time on his side Bella blasted (woof) the ball home from 20yards, some 20 minutes into the game to give the Glens an unexpected lead, against one of his former clubs.
The Talbot continued to huff and puff against the wind but won nothing more than a series of corner kicks, only one of which proved any real threat when a loose ball was blasted over the bar. They were to pay the price for more slack marking at the back when Houston outleaped his marker to head the ball into the path of Stevie Agnew, who brilliantly outfoxed his marker before drilling the ball home, 5 minutes from the interval. Half-Time Talbot 0 Glens 2.
With the winds at their back the Talbot started the second half in determined fashion and the Glens were pegged back in their own half for long periods, but still the Talbot pressure failed to be rewarded, either through lack of imagination on the part of their forwards or stalwart defending by the Glens. Howie was now winning important tackles in mid-field and Brian Blair, after a nervy first-half showed some fine touches on the ball. The Glens seemingly had weathered the storm and when an exquisite through ball by Blair found Houston, there was only going to be one outcome, as the big striker set off goalwards and thrashed (woof woof) the ball home with confidence and satisfaction in equal measure.
To their credit Talbot didn't give up the ghost and a series of slick passes saw the Glens chasing their tails, and the ball found Slavin who headed into the back of the net in the blink of an eye, and the deficit was back to two. Indeed it was nearly back to one a few minutes later, when a spectacular overhead kick by Gillies crashed off the woodwork; a great effort that deserved much more. With 30 minutes remaining the Talbot were still very much in the game.
Again the storm was weathered and again the Glens stretched their lead with the goal of the game in the 65th minute. Another superb tackle by Howie released Agnew on the half-way line. Aggie ventured forth with vigour and the Talbot back four backed off, wary of the pass to Bingham lurking on the left wing. A perfect decoy for Aggie and he beat off each defender in turn before picking his spot against the hapless Talbot goalie. Late in the game Cleeland threatened to emulate Aggie with a similar assault on the Talbot game, but he was crudely body-checked and the resultant free-kick came to nothing. Before that however a spectacular Gillies volley did get what it deserved on this occasion and at 4-2 down the home-side refused to give up. But that proved to be the end of the goal spree and with the Glens bringing on the fresh legs of Ross Murray, Paul Deeney, and Derek Gemmell, like a trio of Jack Russells, the Talbot finally succumbed and trudged off Beechwood with their tails firmly between their legs. Final Score : Talbot 2 Glens 4
Talbot : McIntosh, Leitch, Traynor, Collins, Anderson, Davidson, Young, Slavin, Gillies, Mallan, Gilmour.
Glens: Matthews, McAninch, McCaig, Robb, Stewart; Blair, Cleeland (Deeney), Howie, Agnew; Bingham (Gemmell), Houston (Murray)
Left: Scott Houston facing up to one of his former teams.
Right: 'Bellla' about to rifle in the opening goal
Left: John McCaig and Rickie Robb with some weel kent faces in the background
Right: Rickie Robb with the weel-kent face of Stevie Mallan.
Left : Old boy Stevie Mallan with new boy Peter Peter McAninch
Right: New boy Willie Howie
Left: Craig Bingham
Right: Willie Howie and Stevie Agnew