GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 2 Arthurlie 1
Scorers: Agnew, Beattie
As we turned left at the Stobbs junction the Fereneze hills were already covered in low grey cloud and the rain was that fine variety of Peter Kay's childhood. Down past Dunterlie and the windscreen wipers were now on full pelt. But lo!, as we turned right, a glorious rainbow appeared and momentarily illuminated the street sign 'Glen Street'. An omen perhaps - or a pigment of my imagination!
As we drove into Pathhead there was no sign of Corsencon Hill as we stole a glimpse along the Mansfield Road, it not only had his hat on , but its coat and wellies as well. But lo! ,as we parked the motor in Loch Park the gloom was illuminated once again, this time by a bright red shirt draped from a blond-headed No. 11.
Yes, Aggie was back!
So too was Willie Howie, returning from suspension and Dale Beattie having overcome injury. With Zander Allan side-lined Beattie would partner Darren Johnstone up front; whilst Willie would lead the midfield accompanied by Paul Cassidy, Mark Quinn and Aggie on the left flank. With trialist Paul Gaughan signing for Bathgate in midweek, John McCaig and Davie Stewart were the preferred pairing at the centre of defence; with Graham Mathie and Daivd Martin taking up the full-back positions. Gary Matthews, still recuperating from surgery kept his place in goal ahead of young Darren Martin.
With only 2 games gone the length of the league separated the Glens from an Arthurlie side that had been completely rebuilt during the close season and that had already taken 3 points from title favourites Pollok on their own patch. However, it was the Glens that nearly opened the scoring with the first attack of any note in the game. Agnew was fed the ball down the left flank and he floated a perfect ball into the 'Lie box which just eluded Darren Johnstone as he burst into the six yard box; Dale Beattie arriving at the far post stretched in vain but couldn't get enough on the ball to re-direct it goalward. Johnstone returned the favour later in the half, having received the ball from another Howie-winning tackle, he picked out Aggie on the edge of the penalty box but his thundering shot was parried by Evans on to the cross bar and the rebound safely retrieved.
Sandwiched between these Glens' chances, Alan McFadden was looking lively up front for the visitors. He was unlucky not to get on the end of a wonderful long diagonal ball played deep from the 'Lie right flank, over the heads of the Glens defence into the penalty area. Arthurlie's corner-kick count was mounting but the preferred option of playing them to the back post were in general ineffective, although Matthews did well to punch clear a header that had been played back into the danger area. He also did well to hold onto some long range efforts that were played along the wet and greasy surface.
Although the game was end-to-end it took a series of re-taken Glens free-kicks to liven up matters as these did little but to frustrate both sets of players (and supporters) . Dale Beattie was then booked for over-protesting his claim for a penalty kick when he was held by the wrist in the penalty box.
Half-time : Glenafton Athletic 0 Arthurlie 0
The fine rain continued to sprinkle the playing surface and both sides were struggling to carve out any clear cut chances. Willie Howie was winning the majority of the takcles in the middle of the park but the 'Lie defence was well marshalled and Agnew Johnstone and Beattie were having little success in making headway towards Evans' goal. The 'Lie front-men were faring no better but as the half progressed the visitors were beginning to camp in the Glens half and McCaig and Stewart were at this time the busier of the central defenders. In the 65th minute Arthurlie's persistance paid off. Seeking out gaps in the Glens defence the ball was played along the front of the penalty box neatly and precisely from player to player, the gap was found, but before it could be exploited the 'Lie player was tripped and a free-kick from 20 yards out was duly awarded. Ballantyne struck the kick low and hard past the wall and although Matthews saved well he could not hold on to the ball, nor could he prevent the alert McFadden from knocking in the rebound.
Ten minutes later the Glens were handed a chance to get back into the game when McCulloch handled the ball in the box as the Glens had pushed forward in numbers. As everyone else froze the referee was in doubt and he awarded the penalty-kick. This was a huge moment for the Glens - no goals scored in 4 games, Aggie playing his first game of the season and facing a keeper that had saved two penalties at Pollok. O ye of little faith, Aggie slotted it home and the Glens were back in the game.
The 'Lie tried to lift their game and re-take the lead but Matthews dealt well with an Andrew shot and a Fabiani header. The Glens looked dangerous on the break, particularly through Agnew who was revelling in the new found space as the 'Lie pushed forward, but a 'clip of the heels 'brought one of his more promising runs to an undignified end.
The game seemed to be heading for a draw, which would have been a fair reflection on the balance of the play. However, the Glens kept fighting and a tireless shift by the front pair of Johnstone and Beattie was rewarded with a winning goal. DJ capitalised on some slack defending in the 'Lie box and skinned the defender as he dallied deep in his own box; having won the ball he rolled it across the penalty box for the incoming Beattie to blast it into the net. The celebrations that followed were founded more on relief perhaps than victory, for the first time in some time the breaks had gone the Glens' way. The three minutes of time added on were not enough for the 'Lie to regroup, indeed the Glens looked more likely to grab a third.
The result was a bit harsh on Arthurlie but it was perhaps always going to be that way to record our first league victory over the Barrhead side.
postscipt: by the time we arrived home Barrhead was sunny again and Glen Street was bathed in sunshine; and the young 'Lie fans spirits uplifted by a Kris Boyd double!
Glenafton Athletic: Matthews; Martin. McCaig, Stewart, Mathie (McQuade); Cassidy, Howie, Quinn, Agnew; Johnstone, Beattie Subs: Martin Dar., Paterson
Arthurlie Evans, McCulloch, Williams, Hilland (
'The Coupon Busters'
Willie Howie and Stevie Agnew
Stevie Agnew makes it 1-1 from the spot
Stevie Agnew celebrates as Dale Beattie nets the winner.
Glenafton: Matthews; Martin, McCaig, Stewart,Mathie (McQuade) ; Cassidy, Howie,Quinn, Agnew; Johnstone, Beattie