GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 6 Irvine Meadow XI 2
Scorers: Brown 3, Johnstone 2, Agnew
The Glens made three changes to the side that defeated Talbot on 'God's Little Acre' last week. Former Meadow player John McMillan and recent signing Frankie Haggarty were cup-tied and so back to the starting eleven came Darren Johnstone and so too Paul Cassidy, while Peter Jordan replaced David Martin at right back.
Despite being West of Scotland Cup holders (yes I know that is a painful reminder for some Glens' fans!) and having won four games in a row without conceding a goal and playing at home and playing a team from a lower division the Glens started the match as second favourites, according to the bookies at least.
Of course Meadow are riding high in the First Division and look certain to return to the Premier Division next season. They can also count themselves unlucky not to have progressed to the Scottish Junior Cup Quarter-Finals thanks to a last second equaliser from Pollok in the 5th Round at Meadow Park and the Glasgow giants (i.e. giants in Glasgow) won the replay 2-1. The strength in depth of the Meadow squad is the 'talk of the steamie' in the Junior terracings , although today they had to call on the services of Kilwinning Rangers U'21 goalkeeper Rab McGoogan to replace the injured Michael Wardrope and unfortunately it turned out to be a day to forget for the young goalie.
The Glens nearly got off to the best possible start as Stevie Agnew looked set to burst free into the Meadow penalty area but his run was halted just outside box and although Chic Connolly's free kick beat the Meadow wall it sailed over McGoogan's bar. Meadow survived the scare and in turn created three of their own in the Glens' goalmouth all of which could, and most of which should, have seen the visitors take the lead. A good move down the right saw the ball floated into the box and behind the Glens central defenders into the path of James Tyler who trapped the ball expertly and looked certain to test Gary Matthews from a few yards out but he lofted the ball over the bar. The next scare was self-inflicted when a Glens clearance from the six-yard box rebounded off Paul Cassidy's back and fortunately for the blameless midfielder it fell safely into Matthews's hand. The final scare came after some more fine football from the Meadow and the lanky striker weaved his way through the defence and slotted his shot beyond the advancing Matthews, but the ball hit the inside of the post and rebounded across the goal-mouth and finally to safety, as the striker had to terminate his premature celebrations. All in the first 15 minutes of the game stimulating a handful of the tuneful Meadow fans to sing 'It's like watching Brazil, it's like watching Brazil'.
The Glens soon suffered similar heartache in front of goal with two spurned golden chances, however these had the consolation of being sandwiched between two goals for the holders. The opener came in the 18th minute when Gavin Brown took advantage of uncertainty in the Meadow's defence and stole the ball from the feet of Wingate and with McGoogan stranded and Darren Johnstone now by his side it was unclear which of the forwards would finish the task, but not to Brown and he slammed the ball into the empty net. A sweet strike against one of his former clubs. Johnstone then had an opportunity to extend the Glens lead but with the keeper stranded again , Wingate managed to block DJ's effort at the near post. Minutes later DJ looked certain to score after fine footwork inside the box which left one defender for dead and McGoogan scrambling to recover, however the ball seemed to take an age to settle for him and although his shot beat McGoogan the delay in execution allowed Mason to make a goal-line clearance. DJ was not to be denied and with 5 minutes of the half remaining Chic Connolly breaking down the right wing played a great ball into Johnstone's path and despite the attention of Wingate and Mason he composed himself to strike the ball beyond McGoogan from 10 yards out.
Half-time : Glenafton Athletic 2 Irvine Meadow XI 0
The second half got off to a dramatic start when a clumsy challenge by Stevie Agnew in the Glens' penalty box saw the visitors awarded a spot-kick and it was duly despatched beyond the reach of Matthews. Any thoughts of a Meadow revival were quickly put to the sword by the head and the foot of Gavin Brown as he went on to complete a memorable hat-trick. With less than 10 minutes of the half gone he restored the Glens two goal cushion when he rose above the Meadow defence to powerfully head home a free kick. Eight minutes later he was played through by Stevie Agnew and as he ran towards the penalty box the last defender blocked his path and although he stumbled he managed to keep his feet . The chance seemed to be gone as he was forced wide out to the left, but he turned and cracked a thunderous shot beyond the fully stretched McGoogan into the far corner of the goal.
With 20 minutes of the second half gone the young keeper was exposed again as Wingate and the veteran Mason couldn't prevent the surging run of Stevie Agnew into Meadow's box and as Aggie looked certain to round him and slot the ball home, McGoogan simply took the feet from him. A straight red card for McGoogan and a penalty kick for the Glens from which Agnew sent replacement "goalkeeper" defender Craig Baxter the wrong way to make it 5-1. The 10 men then knuckled down and the Glens had the luxury of replacing hat-trick hero Gavin Brown with defender David Martin, allowing Chic Connolly to push forward. With 15 minutes of the match remaining Darren Johnstone completed the scoring for the home-side, when he beat the Meadow's ill-timed offside trap and went on to round Baxter and nick the ball home from an acute angle. It was too much to take for Windgate and similarly his protestations to the referee were too much for the official and a second yellow saw the Meadow reduced to 9 men.
Five minutes later the Glens were caught off gaurd and a break down the left wing saw the ball flighted into the goal mouth and a free header beyond Matthews gave the score-line some semblance of respectabilty, if not predictabilty - by the bookies - the Glens running out 6-2 winners.
Another great result for the Glens making it 5 wins in a row in 2007. As for the Meadow it may have started off "It's like watching Brazil" but in the end it was less like the Blue Brazil and more like Brazil Faulty. Nevertheless we can look forward to meeting them in the Premier Division next season where they are sure to be a welcome addition to the Ayrshire contingent.
Glenafton Athletic: Matthews; Jordan, McCaig, Beattie, Quinn; Connolly, Cassidy, Howie, Agnew; Johnstone, Brown (Martin)
Irvine Meadow XI: McGoogan; Mason, Wingate, Gold, Swift; Strain, McPhee, Turner, Essler, Armstrong, Tyler.
'It's like watching Brazil' sing the Meadow as Gavin Brown and Darren Johnstone celebrate the opening goal to make it Glenafton 1 Brazil 0
Darren Johnstone brighten ups a grey-day to make it 2-0
Roddy cheers on DJ
Gavin Brown heads home to make it 3-1 with Darren Johnstone the decoy
"Mud and Glory"
Gavin Brown (out of shot to the goalie's right) slams home his hat-trick to make it 4-1
Stevie Agnew sends Baxter the wrong-way to make it 5-1
Big Darren and the referee do their Saturday Night Fever impressions at 6-1