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Saturday, October 27th 2007

4:00 PM

Beith Juniors vs. GLENAFTON ATHLETIC Stagecoach Super League Premier Division

Beith Juniors 1 GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1

Scorer: Howie

The first Premier Division clash between Beith and Glenafton ended all square after a hugely entertaining match at Bellsdale Park.

The visitors almost got off to a dream start in the opening minute following a poor clearance by home goalkeeper Robert Tiropolous which saw the quick thinking Simon Eeles chase the ball down, but the keeper made amends and the danger averted.  One minute later his counter-part Gary Matthews made an outstanding double save from Andy Reid.

The scene was thus set for a first half of relentless attacking football from which both sides carved out a number of excellent chances, the best of which fell to the hosts.Reid and fellow front-man Kenny McLean’s striking partnership appeared to be operating on a telepathic level on occasion. As one darted to pick up a pass on the flank the other broke to the back post fully expecting the ball to be well on its way by the time he had reached his destination. Thankfully, Steven McGregor and his latest central defensive partner, Mark Quinn, were quickly on the same wavelength and when they weren’t frustrating the Mighty’s dynamic duo, they found Gary Matthews in outstanding form. Big ‘G’ made a number of point blank saves, although it should be said that when McLean looked certain to break the deadlock his header lacked the power and direction to put Matthews under any pressure and he gathered the ball gratefully with both hands.

At the other end the park the pace of Eeles and the dogged determination of Stephen Whalen was giving the home defence some cause for concern. Eeles have weaved his way into the box again but the ball wouldn’t fall kindly for him to get his shot away and Marc McShane cleared the danger. Another break down the left and with Fulton stranded up the park Whalen slipped past the back-tracking Martin Stewart at the left hand corner of the penalty box with ease and although his thunderous shot beat Tiropolous it flew over the bar.

With 10 minutes gone a loud appeal from the home support echoed around Bellsdale as the ball appeared to strike former Beith favourite Kevin Deeney on the hand. An even louder roar followed eight minutes later when a stunning strike from outside the box whizzed past the outstretched Matthews but just beyond the junction of post and bar.In the middle of the park there were some notable tussles the guile and conviction of Willie Howie and Martin McGarvey in particular standing out.

A pleasing feature of the match throughout was the manner in which free-kicks were quickly taken as both sides were desperate to mount another attack and attempt to break the dead-lock.With 31 minutes gone the Glens almost made the breakthrough. Excellent work on the right flank saw Deeney turn his marker outside in before lofting the ball deep into the box, only for it to be cleared for a corner kick. Stevie Agnew’s wicked in-swinging kick completely deceived Tiropolous but neither Deeney nor John McMillan could get the killer touch on the ball at the box.   

As was the way of this game two minutes late the home-side took the lead when after being tripped in the box McLean composed himself to send Matthews the wrong way from the penalty-spot. And as was the way of this game the Glens were back on level terms within four minutes when Whalen shrugged off the attention of two defenders on the edge of the Beith box and played a neat pass into the path of the incoming Howie who took one touch before lashing the ball into the net.

 

Half-time Beith 1 Glenafton 1

 

Beith enjoyed most of the possession in the opening spell of the second half without creating as many chances and when they did breach the Glens defensive lines Matthews’ dogged determination prevented them from adding to their tally.

Tiropolous too was earning his corn particularly in the closing twenty minutes of the game when the Glens (and with the slope now in their favour) had the home-side pegged back in their own half for long periods.

A corner kick from the left found Deeney at the far side of a busy Beith penalty box and he calmly rolled the ball back into the path of Willie Howie who burst into the box past one defender and then another, en-route to emulating his opening goal, only to be tripped before he could tee up his shot. Stevie Agnew stepped up and slammed the spot-kick goalward but Tiropolous got both hands to the ball and palmed it to relatively safety. The keeper then denied the Glens winner again dealing well with a deflection from a free-kick from 20 yards out, one a number the Beith defence had conceded during a mini-siege.

A draw, in a game that neither side deserved to lose, always seems like a fair outcome. However, on a more positive note with the inventive play of both sides it was perhaps a game that both sides deserved to win.

 

Glenafton Athletic: Matthews; Connolly, McGregor, Quinn, Agnew; Deeney, Doyle, Howie, Eeles; Whalen, McMillan

 

Beith:Tiropolous ,Fulton, J Jack, S Jack,McShane , Craig, Canning, McGarvey, Reid, Stewart, McLean Subs Dymock, Convery, Spence, Palmer,Wight

 

Gary Matthews denied Andy Reid

 

Stephen Whalen waltzes past Martin Stewart

 

 

'Buddie' and Doyle

 

Simon Eeles gives Iain Fulton and James Canning the slip

 

John McMillan and Kevin Deeney almost make the breakthrough as the Famous Five hold their breath

 

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