GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1 Cumnock Juniors 1
Dale Beattie made a surprise return to the Glens starting eleven, as a trialist , as cover for Kevin Deeney who along with Chic Connolly and Frankie Haggarty was unavailable for selection. Recent form painted a confusing picture as to the potential outcome of this match with the 3-1 defeat at Townhead still fresh in the memory but both teams having visited Meadow Park since then, the Glens coming away with a 2-2 draw whilst the 'Nock were on the wrong end of a 5-1 hammering.
The visitors vanquished their Irvine blues with less than 3 minutes on the clock. The Glens appeared to have won a throw-in deep in their own half, but increduously the assistant referee got the simplest of decisions wrong (the first of several for the linesman who surely has had better days) and awarded Cumnock the disputed shy. While the Glens protested the 'Nock got on with it and launched the throw-in deep into the box and with the home defence caught napping Jamie Moan gathered the ball and tucked it beyond Gary Matthews with some style.
The Glens overcame this early set-back and the pace of Simon Eeles down the right flank and the link up play of Mark Quinn and Stevie Agnew down the left ensured that the Cumnock defence were on the back foot for much of the remainder of the half. Having said that the Glens failed to capitalise on the host of balls that were played into the box and clear cut chances were few and far between. In addition former Bellshill defender, Stuart McDonald was having a fine game in 'Nock colours. With ten minutes of the half remaining Aggie took matters into his own hands and slalomed his way past 'Nock player after player down the left wing before bursting into the box, but his shot went into Graham Potter's side netting.
Cumnock by no means were anonymous as an attacking force but they too created few chances to add to their tally, the best a long range effort which went high, wide and handsome beyond the 'big handsome Glens goalie'.
Half-time : Glenafton Athletic 0 Cumnock Juniors 1
Gavin Brown replaced JP Grant at half-time and his introduction and his pace made an immediate impact on the tempo of the game while his aerial presence gave the 'Nock defence further cause for concern in their attempts to spend less time camped deep in their own half.
However, fairly quickly the game settled into a pattern that would prevail for much of the half. Possession was much more evenly balanced and the 'Nock discovered the best form of defence was attack. Moan was seeing much more of the ball and although his clever running often petered out with little effect it gave the visitors' defence some welcomed breathing space. Cumnock's tactics of playing high balls from the flanks into the box were understandable, after all two of their goals at Townhead had come from close range headers. However, the central pairing of Steven McGregor and the outstanding Andy Gow, aided and abetted ably by Gary McGuigan proved to be a different proposition this time and were well in command; and on the odd occasion where they were beaten Matthews came to rescue with safe hands or tipping the ball over the ball, as he had to do with a fine effort from John McLay.
At the other end Potter was alert and ran from his line to deny Eeles and Agnew as they ran on to well timed through balls that had left the 'Nock defence for dead. Brown was giving McGowan a torrid time in the air and winning the majority of the 50-50 headers. Just after the hour mark Brown beat McGowan again, this time to an Agnew corner and his powerful header seemed destined to burst the net but it rebounded of Stephen Whalen's back who had tried in vain to duck out of the way, from his position two yards from goal.
The Glens introduced the fresh legs of John McMillan and then David Gormley but the game had now fallen into the category of one where both teams could have played on to Sunday and the score would have remained the same . A runner was sent from the Cumnock dug-out to instruct Potter to slow things down and let the time run out. Before it did however it seemed to stand still for the Cumnock goalie as Stevie Agnew took on the role of Hero, i.e. Hiro Nakamura you know the one that can stare at the clock and stop time. With four minutes to go he warped down the left wing, with no support in the box he lofted a high ball towards Potter's goal, Aggie must have then stared at the clock, for everything seemed to stop- players, officials, supporters and my camera - only the ball continued on its trajectory over the head of Potter frozen in time and then re-entered into real time to slip perfectly into the portal found at the junction of far post and bar.
The remaining four minutes must have felt like an eternity for Potter and his pals as the Glens sensed victory but time didn't stop and the four minutes came and went and there was no further scoring, both teams earning a deserved point.
Glenafton Athletic: Matthews; McGuigan, McGregor, Gow, Quinn; Eeles (Gormley), Beattie, Howie, Agnew; Whalen (McMillan) , Grant (Brown)
ccSimon Eeles breaks free with Dale Beattie and Willie Howie in tow
JP Grant on the deck
Stevie Agnew in control
Gavin Brown beats Chris McGowan to the ball but his head batters of Stephen Whalen's back
Stevie celebrates his equaliser - spot the Glens fan in the Cumnock crowd!