Fixture: TASS Thistle 1999s v Antonine 1999s
Competition: PJYFL Division 2
Venue: Ardeer Rec Stevenston
Date: Saturday, 21st May 2016
With a hint of doubt whether this league decider would go ahead today, due to the previous days downpour, this was definitely a match the home side wanted done and dusted.
Honours had been shared between the two sides in their only ever two matches against each other, the first an Antonine 4-2 win in the league followed by a TASS 5-2 win in the Scottish cup.
Today's match would see the home side compete for the last three points of their domestic season and each one of those points counted as they were needed to overtake the season’s table toppers Stewarton Annick 99's.
With Stewarton eagerly awaiting this result it was down to TASS to have the final say on who took the season’s honours, and boy did they!
As expected there was to be a healthy and vocal home support for TASS and they certainly were not let down by the display put on by the lads.
Tass started the game fairly well, however it was the visitors who tested TASS number one Dylan Jackson in goal early on. As he had done for much of the season Jackson showed great reflexes to deny Antonine's number nine.
With maybe some nerves in the home sides ranks, they soon begun to impose themselves higher up the pitch as the match reached the halfway point of the first half. First up, was a well delivered ball in from the right, by new recruit Jack Frew, finding the head of Jared Sargent who glanced his header far enough away from the Antonine keeper giving him no chance. It was a well-worked set piece but the Antonine rearguard only had themselves to blame for not picking the runner up, giving him a free header. 1-0 TASS.
However, Antonine, despite the match meaning nothing in terms of league standings, were clearly not here to make up the numbers. Again they passed up two guilt-edged chances and they will curse themselves at failing to miss the open target.
Half Time: TASS Thistle 1999s 2-0 Antonine 1999s
Antonine, to their credit, came out in the second half equally as strong as the first and again threatened the TASS goal. However, again it was Jackson who was the hero spreading himself well to somehow deny the Antonine forward again. No one knows which part of the anatomy stopped the ball but what a block! This proved vital as TASS looked to maintain their two goal cushion.
As the half wore on TASS captain Conner Cunningham, and his centre back pairing of Logan Craig, were immense. Three goals conceded, in their last 9 matches, tells it's own story about this formidable TASS rearguard.
TASS began to dominate and take complete control of this match with influential midfielder Dean Picking dictating play from the centre circle. Strain, and him, combined saw very little go past them.
It wasn't long before goal number three came, a consequence of another Antonine mix-up at the back allowing TASS forward Martin Galbraith in to round the keeper and fire into the net.
3-0 and surely the title was coming to Ayrshire, however talisman Strain wasn't finished as he coolly collected the ball 25 yards from goal and fired another thunderbolt past the descending Antonine number one.
4-0, and game safe, saw the opportunity of getting the whole of the bench on to take part in this memorable performance, and it was the TASS right back Jamie Taggart who got himself into position early on, firing a thunderbolt of his own, however the Antonine keeper did exceptionally well to finger tip it over the bar.
With few more chances of note the match ended 4-0, a result that see's the title race end with the trophy heading for North Ayrshire.
It's a great testament to this group of players who, up until August, hadn't played together as a side, first winning the Glasgow Cup in what would be their first competitive matches, then to top that off with the league title speaks volumes about the quality in the TASS ranks.
Full Time: TASS Thistle 1999s 4-0 Antonine 1999s