GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 2 Auchinleck Talbot 2
Scorers: Allan, Johnstone
The 7 pm kick-off was delayed by almost 3 days to allow the 40,000 parka-clad Talbot fans that had made the grueling 7 mile (or 7 ½ for those who feel the need to by-pass Old Cumnock) to New Cumnock, to see their heroes take to the field. And what a spectacle that was. First the gallant Glenafton team formed a guard of honour and clapped the ‘Bot onto the park and then the Red Arrows pig-squadron completed the pre-match adoration with a magnificent fly-past!
The fictional niceties quickly paled into insignificance as the Glens gifted the visitors with five guilt edge chances in the opening 20 minutes. Talbot generously declined four of these, two each either side of a Stevie Mallan goal in 10 minutes. This the most difficult of the chances on offer saw Gary Matthews pull off a great save from a header by the Glens former player-manager, but Mallan acted quickly to knock in the rebound. Some more acting was to follow from Mallan later in the game. The Glens, without central defenders Paterson, McCaig or McGregor, were soon reshuffling again when Dale Beattie and then Willie Howie picked up injuries and were replaced by Brian Miller and Darren Johnstone. These enforced changes worked to the Glens advantage and Miller in particular was combining well with the impressive Brian Blair, who was beginning to carve out a number of openings down the right flank, with some intricate passing play, and some clever balls into the box for the tireless Zander Allan to chase. It was no surprise when the young striker bagged the equalizer with a well-worked goal which saw him slalom his way through a packed Talbot penalty box and slam the ball beyond McIntosh. The Glens were looking the most likely to add to their tally, but a few minutes before half-time, Talbot were presented with another gift. The Glens gave away possession of the ball cheaply on the half-way line and it was played over the top to the speedy Boyle, who was adjudged to be on-side, and on this occasion he gave Matthews no chance with a clinical finish.
Half-time: Glenafton Athletic 1 Auchinleck Talbot 2
Heavy rain now accompanied the strong wind and the failing light but the impending gloom was put on hold as the Glens equalized for a second time. A glorious ball over the top of the pedestrian Talbot defence, released Stevie Agnew down the left wing. A cleaner pair of heels will seldom be seen on such a muddy surface, as Aggie headed for the touchline, glancing up to observe the run of Darren Johnstone into the 6-yard box to join the back-tracking ‘Bot defenders. An un-defendable ball was played across the goal-mouth and in the spirit of ‘Talbot adulation' that is sweeping the West Region, rather than attribute an OG to one of the ‘Botties, big DJ is awarded the goal. However, within a few minutes DJ found himself at the centre of defence after Davie Stewart was sent-off for a second bookable offence, when he was adjudged to have brought down Mallan, on the half-way line. The referee had already spoken to both these players in the first half and Mallan, who too had already been booked, appeared to make the most of the tackle. It was no surprise when he was later substituted. The conditions deteriorated and the 10 men put in a shift of 12 men in the remaining 30 minutes of the game. They not only contained Talbot but created a few more chances of their own, the best of which fell to Johnstone when he ventured forward from his new central defensive role for a corner, and he got his head to the ball before the lumbering McIntosh, but the ball broke kindly for the Talbot defender, to clear to safety. In the dying minutes and those six or seven that were added on, the 10 understandably were tiring and Talbot created a flurry of chances, the pick of which was an excellent run down the left wing by Boyle and a great ball played with pace across the goal, but the no takers at the far post.
A tremendous team performance from the Glens with a “never-say-die” attitude that has long been the hallmark of Talbot teams. There were some great individual performances too, but special mention must go to young Zander Allan, not only for his goal (to add his league goals against Pollok and Renfrew) but for his overall tireless performance.
Glenafton Athletic: Matthews; Mitchell, Beattie (Johnstone) , Stewart, Mathie; Bingham, Blair, Howie (Blair), Murphy (Houston), Agnew; Allan