Lanark United 0 GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 0
The Glens travelled to meet Lanark United in the 2nd round of the Scottish Junior Cup, the first time the two sides have met in the competition since 1956-57.
There was a sense of home from home in the drive into Lanark (from the Barrhead side). First we encounter the statue of Sir William Wallace which stands proudly overlooking the main thoroughfare of Lanark town. Legend has it that the man who lived at Blackcraig, New Cumnock was married to a Lanark lass. Then opposite the road-end into Moor Park the home of Lanark United, aka 'The Yowes', the sheep were seen grazing nearby evoking memories (no not those ones!!) of Rabbie Burns' famous 'Ca' the Yowes tae the Knowes'. Burns made the song famous, but of course it was New Cumnock born Tibbie Pagan that penned the lyrics. The New Cumnock connections continued with a glance at the Lanark dug-out now home to Yowes manager and former Glens player Tam McDonald and in the Yowes starting line up was former Afton favourite, Mark Keegans.
Mid-week signings Nicky Weightman and Gavin Brown were given starting places in a new look striking partnership while a more familiar face in the form of Davie Kennedy started at right-back in place of the injured David Martin. However, it was Glens 'old' boy 22 year old Keegans that caught the eye in the early encounters as he orchestrated many of the attacks which saw the home side's corner-kick count quickly rack up. Although Davie Stewart and John McCaig at the heart of the Glens defence won the majority of the aerial battles as the corners rained in, the Yowes won a considerable proportion of the second balls, but still couldn't find a clear path to goal.
The Glens began to claw their way back into the game and Weightman and Brown were beginning to see much more of the ball, but clear cut chances were few and far between; the best of which fell to Brown in 20 minutes but the keeper saved well at his near post.
The Glens then survived a double-fright with what would prove to be Lanark's two best chances of the match and both from open play. In the 32nd minute, after good play down the right, Matthews was left rooted to the spot and could only watch as the volley from outside the box flashed beyond his reach but went inches over the bar. Minutes later a great ball played straight through the middle found the home striker one-on-one with Matthews and with time on his side as the defenders chased back, but the goalie performed heroics (not quite of Wallace proportions) and brilliantly blocked the shot to prevent Lanark taking the lead.
Half-time : Lanark United 0 Glenafton Athletic 0
The Glens started the second half in determined fashion and the home side were soon on the back foot. On no fewer than three ocassions in the opening ten minutes spell of the second half the Glens broke free of the home side's defensive line; the first ended with a dubious off-side call, the second saw Weightman shoot wide and the third saw Willie Howie upended in the penalty box, but the referee waved play on. The home side re-grouped but got little change out of a well organised Glens defence, and Howie and Cassidy in the middle of the park were winning most of the tackles to release the industrious Connolly and the inventive Agnew and so would start another wave of Glens' attacks.
This pattern of play repeated itself throughout the second half but the Glens couldn't make the brreakthrough. Brown, after a tremendous shift was replaced by Darren Johnstone and later in the game young Weightman who had chased causes (lost and otherwise) all game was replaced by Brian Miller.The fresh legs of Johnstone and Miller ensured that the Glens dominated the game to its conclusion with Johnstone now adding an aerial threat for the Yowes defenders to contend with, over and above the trickery of Agnew and Miller.
The standside linesman ensured it wasn't going to be the Glens's day with an early off-side flag, when the Glens looked certain to be through . Still he had the courage to admit to the Glens fans that 'I bawsed it up' and apologised accordingly.However,further poor decisions on his part followed leaving his apology seem rather hollow. Another blow came through the loss of Willie Howie who had to hobble off injured near the end of the game and he was replaced by Liam Paterson.
The Glens continued to push forward and Connolly and Miller both were unfortunate not to see their good build up play better rewarded. In the closing minutes the Glens won a flurry of corner-kicks but this game, (of two halves) ended goalless Full time Lanark United 0 Glenafton Athletic 0
Glenafton Athletic: Matthews; Kennedy, McCaig, Stewart, Quinn; Connolly, Cassidy, Howie (Paterson), Agnew; Brown (Johnstone), Weightman (Miller)
Fifty years ago the 1st Round tie ended Lanark 1 Glenafton 1 with the Glens goal coming from Danny McCulloch; the Glens went on to win the replay with goals from Murray, Thorburn and Cathcart. So here's hoping that history repeats itself.
Stevie Agnew breaks free from former Glens player Mark Keegans
Keeper saves well from Gavin Brown
Nikcy Weightman heads for goal
Chic Connolly drives forward
Darren Johnstone wins the header with Laim Paterson in attendance
Paul Cassidy breaks up another Yowes attack