Bellshill Athletic 1 GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 3
Scorers: Agnew, Gormley 2
The Glens made three changes from the starting eleven that shared the points with Beith last week for this Scottish Junior Cup 2nd Round match against fellow Premier Division side Bellshill Athletic. Andy Gow made a welcome return to the centre of defence having recovered from injury sustained in the 1st Round victory over Hermes, allowing Mark Quinn to shuffle over to a more familiar left-back slot and Stevie Agnew push forward in that flank in place of Simon Eeles, who was unavailable for selection. Changes on the right flank too with new signing Chris Merrilees making his debut at right-back allowing Chic Connolly to push forward replacing Kevin Deeney. Up front John McMillan made way for David Gormley to partner top goal scorer Stephen Whalen.
Bellshill too had made a number of changes to their starting line-up from the recent league defeat at the hands of the Glens at
The early exchanges were encouraging on a number of fronts for the visitors with Merrilees immediately looking assured and comfortable on the ball; Willie Howie calling the shots in the middle of the park; Chic and Aggie exploiting the space on the flanks; while the contrasting styles of the patient build-up play of Whalen and the high-octane direct approach of Gormley had Fabi & Co. prepared for a long shift.
As in the league encounter Scott McNab in the Bellshill goal served noticed that he would prove to be a formidable last line of defence, a Connolly drive forcing him to pull of a decent save early on. However, the keeper had little chance with the Glens opening goal which came in the 24th minute. Gormley picked up the ball on the half way line wide on the right and as his striking partner moved menacingly into the box, he switched the play to Aggie on the left, who jinxed past the defender and played the ball with pace into the six yard box for the incoming Whalen, but before he could connect the ball was deflected into the net by the flat-footed defender – the goal later being awarded to Stevie Agnew.
Ten minutes later there was no such dubiety over the identity of the scorer of the Glens second goal. David Gormley collected a long through ball down the right and drove into the penalty box with two Bellshill defenders in attendance. As partner Whalen arrived and available for the square pass and with the defenders now caught between a rock and hard place the youngster checked his run and then unleashed a ferocious left foot shot to batter the ball beyond the rooted McNab.
Bellshill created a couple of half-chances just before the break but their finishing did not match their good build up play.
Half-time: Bellshill 0 Glenafton 2
The home side enjoyed considerable more possession in the second half than they had in the first as the Glens toiled to kill off the game, although McNab once again denied Connolly with another exceptional block.
Both sides found a new sense of urgency with 15 minutes of the match remaining. With no way through a densely populated on the outskirts of the Glens penalty box, Nicholls took matters into his own hand and drilled the ball from distance low and hard along the ground to beat Gary Matthews at his left hand post.
The fresh legs of John Paul Grant, energised with the incentive of putting one over his old boss, ensured that the Glens found another gear and it was Bellshill who were once again on the back foot. The killer goal did come, albeit in the dying minutes, through Gormley, who seemed to have lost the chance after being dispossessed at the edge of the box but back came the ball courtesy of Connolly and Agnew and Gormley pounced before Fabiani could muster up a challenge and he thrashed the ball home from 12 yards. Incredibly he nearly grabbed his hat-trick in injury time but McNab once again came to the rescue.
Full-time: Bellshill 1 Glenafton 3
Glenafton Athletic: Matthews; Merrilees, Gow, McGregor, Quinn; Connolly (McMillan), Howie (Beattie), Doyle, Agnew; Whalen (Grant), Gormley
Chic Connolly in control
Andy Gow and debutant Chris Merrilees
Goal celebrations as David Gormley makes it 3-1
Dale Beattie on the ball
John McMillan ready to pounce