GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1 Kilsyth Rangers 0
The Glens were forced to make a few changes to the starting line up from that which started in the victory over Maryhill in the league at Loch Park three weeks ago. Young Nicky Weightman broke a bone in his foot in training during the week and Darren Johnstone took his place up front. With Davie Stewart undergoing an operation on his ear Dale Beattie dropped back from midfield to partner John McCaig in the centre of defence. Peter Jordan came in at right back in place of David Martin and new signing John McMillan from Irvine Meadow made his Glens debut, in the right hand side of the middle four.
The Glens kicked off with a strong bitterly cold wind at their backs and very quickly had the visitors on the back foot with a flurrry of attacks. A Gavin Brown shot from outside the box went whizzing past the post in 5 minutes while the aerial threat of Darren Johnstone was unsettling the Kilsyth defenders and goalkeeper alike. The wind of course was playing its part and any attempts to kick the ball clear from the Kilsyth goal-end were only adding to the pressure on the visitors.
Having weathered the opening frantic ten minutes, Kilsyth began to play the ball on the deck and started to make headway into the Glens territory. Indeed in the best move of the half a fine run down the right wing ended with the Kilsyth player lobbing the ball over the Glens defence and break free into the box to collect the ball and hammer it goalward, only to see the ball smothered by Gary Matthews. The Glens countered almost immediately when a Stevie Agnew free-kick eluded the outstretched hands of Stevely in the Rangers' goal and Johnstone rose head, shoulders and chest above his marker, but his header was just off target. Later in the half big DJ was left swinging from the crossbar as a McMillan corner-kick appeared to have beaten the keeper, but he managed to get a finger tip to the ball and knock it out of the big striker's flight path.
The Glens suffered a set-back when Gavin Brown was injured in an accidental clash whilst back helping his defence from a set-piece and he had to hobble off. Graham Mathie came on to take up the left back slot and Mark Quinn pushed forward into midfield with Stevie Agnew moving up front with Johnstone.
Still playing into a fierce wind,Kilsyth had little option but try and pass the ball out of defence and in doing so almost proved to be the architects of their own downfall on more than one occasion, with short square passes which didn't reach the intended recipient in time, allowing Chic Connolly and Willie Howie to snap up the loose balls and unleash Aggie and DJ. John McMillan was still trying to find his way in his new side and had a glorious opportunity to make a dream start with 15 minutes of the half remaining. Another Glens attack had only been partiially stifled by the Kilsyth defence with Stevely rushing to the edge of the box to kick the ball clear. The ball fell to McMillan and after a few strides he lobbed the ball over the keeper but on this occasion the wind came to the assistance of the visitors and the ball sailed well over the bar. The 'head-up ,John' cry from his new team-mates would pay dividends later.
Kilsyth too would rue missed chances. One free header had already gone a-begging when they were awarded a free kick about 25 yards on their right. The ball was lofted into the penalty box and with every Glens player completely static, the Kilsyth forward drifted into the gap between defenders and Gary Matthews, he had almost time for a Bovril if had so wished, but his free-header went wide.
Half-time : Glenafton 0 Kilsyth 0
The early period of the second half was almost a mirror image of the first-half with Kilsyth now enjoying the advantage of having the wind at their backs. However, before they could make this count their indiscipline cost them dearly. In the opening half the referee had already tried to stamp his authority on the game with a flurry of yellow cards furnished for 'first' hard tackles of any note; he had also spoken to the 'Kilsyth dug-out' after a few 'verbals'. Tempers were on the rise, ignited in particular through the actions of Kilsyth's No. 7. A push in the back from Chic Connolly saw him collapse on the Loch Park turf, flattened like Wylie Coyote after the Road-Runner had dropped a 10 tonne ACME weight on him from the top of the Grand Canyon. Once the yellow card had been brandished, he emerged unscathed a la Wylie, as if nothing had happened. Minutes later he lost out on a 50-50 tackle with Mark Quinn on the touchline and another animated performance that Fred Quimby would have been be proud off was delivered with shameless panache. Once again he bounced back and as he revelled in his poor sportmanship, one of his colleagues lost the place in the Glens penalty box, and knee-ed John McCaig in the small of the back. The referee missed the incident but his assistant had a clear view and nothing less than a red card was sure to be the outcome. Minutes later, Kilsyth were down to 9 men, no need this time for the intervention of the linesman. As the Kilsyth player broke into the Glens half he was caught by Willie Howie and after he picked himself up from his roll on the ground, he turned round and headbutted Howie in the rib-cage, yards from the referee.
With 35 minutes to go it was 11 vs. 9, but as is often the case in such situations it did not appear that way. Credit to the 9 (including No. 7) they still sensed they could take the 3 points and the Glens struggled to come to terms with their numerical advantage. However, not unexpectedly the Glens began to find spaces in the Rangers' ranks and in particular they began to exploit the freedom of the flanks. Chic Connolly, released my "MOTM" Darren Johnstone on the right wing and he made his way deep into the far-right hand side of the Kilsyth penalty box before rolling the ball into the path of the incoming McMillan, who despite the close attention of defender and keeper knocked the ball into the back of the net.
Kilsyth refused to give up the ghost and they continued to push forward and threaten the Glens' goal. In the closing minutes their efforts were almost rewarded but a powerful header came crashing off the Glens cross-bar. Shortly aftewards Aggie returned the compliment, with the keeper stranded outside of his 6 yard box, he chipped the ball goalward from the left-flank but it bounced off the top-side of the bar and to safety. The three points gained saw the Glens leap-frog their opponents in the league standings to 7th place.
Final Score : Glenafton Athletic 1 Kilsyth Rangers 0
Glenafton: Matthews; Jordan (Martin), McCaig, Beattie, Quinn (Miller) ; McMillan, Connolly, Howie, Agnew; Johnstone, Brown (Mathie)
Stevie Agnew fires in a cross with Mark Quinn in attendance
Darren Johnstone comes close to opening the scoring
DJ in action again
Chic Connolly on the ball
John McMillan scores the winner with DJ looking on
Brian Miller makes a welcome return
Stevie Agnew's shot heading for the top of the cross-bar
Goal scoring debutant John McMillan