Saturday 24th November 2018 - Macron Scottish Junior Cup Round Four
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
Harry Mitchell takes on the Ashfield defence in the first half.
Glencairn coasted into the last 16 of the Macron Scottish Junior Cup with a 7-1 demolition of West Region League Two side Ashfield at The Celsius Stadium. This was the fifth time this season that The Glens have scored seven or more goals in a match, and it could have been quite a few more.
There were three changes to the starting team from last week's league draw away at St Roch's. No chances were taken with slight injuries to goalkeeper Garry Whyte and Rhys Donaldson, and they were replaced by Scott McLellan and Ryan Kerr respectively, with Alex Grier moving into Donaldson's sweeper position. The other change saw Harry Mitchell starting on the left flank in preference to Jay McKay. There were familiar faces for the home supporters in the Ashfield squad, with former Glencairn players Kenny Hadden and Mark McManus in the starting line-up and Paddy Cullen on the substitutes' bench.
The visitors came to Rutherglen full of confidence, having scored eight goals last weekend and challenging near the top of their league table. They were clearly fired up for the occasion and started brightly without creating any clear cut chances in the opening minutes of the game.
Glencairn absorbed the pressure, though, and showed a ruthless streak as they took the lead with their first real opportunity of the match in the 8th minute. A long ball up the right channel looked likely to be cleared by the defence, but Colin Leverage took a poor touch, and that allowed Dale Simeon to nip in, take a touch inside and fire past goalkeeper Gary McLenaghan.
Ashfield's response was to go back on the offensive, and Hadden's low drilled shot was saved on his goal line by McLellan. A minute later at the other end some good link play between Liam Gormley and Ryan McArdle ended with the latter's low shot being saved by McLenaghan. Ashfield were still looking threatening, though, and a snap-shot on the turn by Keigan Parker flew narrowly wide of the far post in the 13th minute.
Parker should have equalised for Ashfield two minutes later as he ran clean through on goal, but McLellan stood up long enough to win the battle of wills, not only blocking the shot but smothering it as well. The visitors continued to pass up chances as John Gaynor's free header from Parker's corner was glanced off target when he really should have hit the net.
Gaynor came to his side's rescue at the other end moments later with a brilliant defensive header to deny Stevie Kerr getting on the end of Simeon's delicious delivery. Ashfield's spell of pressure had come to nothing, though, and The Glens were now beginning to take a grip on the game. Simeon went close to scoring as he raced free on the right from Grier's pass and drilled an angled shot narrowly over the crossbar.
Glencairn made it 2-0 in the 31st minute as McArdle's deflected cross deceived the Ashfield defence, and Harry Mitchell arrived at the back post to tap into the net (pictured below).
Eight minutes later the match was effectively over as a contest as Glencairn made it 3-0. Simeon started the move by releasing Gormley on the right edge of the penalty area, and his deflected cross looped over McLenaghan right into the path of Ryan McArdle who couldn't miss with his open goal header from close range.
It could have been worse for Ashfield only a minute later as Gormley pounced on a mistake by Gaynor and clipped his shot past McLenaghan, but the ball slipped narrowly wide of the far post. Gormley went close again on the stroke of half time, getting his head to McArdle's near post cross but glancing his effort wide of the far post.
Half time : 3-0
Harry Mitchell challenges with former Glencairn player Mark McManus.
Ashfield made a change at the interval with Billy Stevenson replacing Jordan Lynch, and they almost pulled a goal back early in the second half. Parker sprung the offside trap on the right edge of the penalty area, but McLellan raced out to make another fine save to the attempted chipped finish, and Grier cleared up the loose ball in front of goal.
Grier was injured in the process, though, and was forced off the field to be replaced by Sean McGuire, with captain Tony Fraser slipping into the sweeper role. Glencairn were now well on top, though, and Mitchell volleyed wide from 18 yards before another volleyed effort by Del Esplin was beaten away by McLenaghan on his goal line.
Gavin Goodall replaced Parker in Ashfield's second change just before the hour mark, but the pressure towards the changing room end goal continued as lovely link play between Simeon and Mitchell ended with Simeon's volley being deflected for a corner. The danger was only cleared momentarily, though, as Simeon's corner delivery picked out the head of Stevie Kerr, and he nodded into the net to make it 4-0.
Hard-worked Ashfield no.1 McLenaghan impressed again as he first of all parried Ryan Kerr's drilled effort, and then he got up to block Gormley's rebound attempt. Glencairn were creating chances galore now, and Mitchell's mazy dribble and shot took a coat of paint off the far post.
Both teams were temporarily down to ten men after a crunching but fair challenge between Craig McGregor and Stevenson. McGregor was able to continue, but Stevenson had to be replaced by Dean Leverage as Ashfield used their final substitution. Glencairn took the opportunity at the same time to continue the comeback from injury of top scorer Gary Smith, and he replaced Gormley up front.
A surging run from midfield by Esplin saw him slip Mitchell in on the left side of the penalty area, but his shot once again slipped agonisingly wide of the far post. Jay McKay replaced McArdle in Glencairn's final change, with Mitchell switching wings to the right.
Ashfield's defence had coped admirably with the waves of Glencairn attacks in the second half so far, but the roof was about to collapse on their defensive house. A cross from the left bounced off a defender into the path of Dale Simeon, and he made no mistake as he fired past McLenaghan to make it 5-0 after 71 minutes.
It was now almost non-stop Glencairn attacking, and McKay and Simeon both had efforts cleared off the line within a few seconds of each other, before an audacious volley from distance by Mitchell wasn't too far off target.
A goal seemed certain in the 81st minute as McKay released Simeon on the right and he squared for Smith who dribbled round McLenaghan, but then fired his shot on the turn over the crossbar. It took only another minute for him to make amends, though. Mitchell's shot was parried by McLenaghan, but Gary Smith was on hand to drill the rebound straight back past the helpless 'keeper to make it 6-0, Smith's 18th goal of the season.
A minute later McLenaghan was picking the ball out of the net again as Del Esplin's shot seemed to take a strange bounce and skipped past him into the net for 7-0.
Ashfield deserved some consolation for what they had put into the game, and they pulled a goal back with five minutes remaining. A corner from the left was head flicked on and John Gaynor was free at the back post to fire into the net. The visitors almost scored again in the 90th minute as Goodall found space in the penalty area, but he was denied by McLellan's fine block.
That was that as far as the goals were concerned, but the black and white faithful were happy to see their team back in goal scoring form after a few weeks of not quite firing on all cylinders.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- McLellan, McGregor, Ryan Kerr, Grier (McGuire), Stevie Kerr, Fraser, McArdle (McKay), Esplin, Gormley (Smith), Simeon, Mitchell. (Subs not used - Donaldson, Whyte (gk).)
Ashfield :- McLenaghan, Hadden, Cairns, Colin Leverage, Gaynor, Lynch (Stevenson (Dean Leverage)), Hearton, Cochrane, Parker (Goodall), Friel, McManus. (Subs not used - Cullen, Passmore.)
Man of the match - (chosen by John Kerr) Del Esplin.