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A titanic tussle between two of the favourites for the Glasgow and District Youth Football League took place on Saturday as Goldenhill travelled south to Ayrshire to take on rivals Bonnyton Thistle. Both teams sit behind the other competitor - Antonine (who have played more games) - to complete the league's top three. A bitterly cold and windy Kilmarnock was the setting for an exciting battle which ended 1-1, with the goals coming in the first ten and last ten minutes of the match.
Both teams came out fired up after weeks of anticipation and build up to this long-awaited tie. Goldenhill had won the most recent meeting 2-1 to make up for many of last season's near misses, where Bonnyton bested them in many of the competitions. However, within the first five minutes Bonnyton had set about getting revenge for that result as winger Sam McCloskey scored on four minutes to notch his second goal in as many weeks. Striker Steven Hill laid on the assist for McCloskey's fine finish with his 'weaker' foot to set the ball rolling in this massive game.
Such is the case with games as big as these however, that clear cut chances can be few and far between. Both teams put in great effort in the opening fifteen minutes but to no avail on the scoring front. The old-fashioned 'Glasgow bus' analogy came into play as we had to wait until the twentieth minute for some goal-mouth acion - and we were hit with three doses of it! Two of these chances fell the way of the home side in the space of thirty seconds as Hill played a one-two with strike partner Muir and then surged into the box alone; firing wide from eight yards. Moments laer, captain Kieran McCrum had a shot from just outside the area deflected after neat build up play.
Goldenhill were not to be outdone however and they became more vocal, and seconds later they were up the other end all over Bonnyton's goal. The all-important chance fell to Luke Crerand who fired a low shot inches wide of the mark from an angle from twelve yards after some nice footwork to manufacture the opportunity.
Five minutes later we again bore witness to some end-to-end excitement. Steven Hill had a pop from the edge of the area and saw goalkeeper Dan Burns spill the effort - but there were no takers and Goldenhill's defence competently mopped up. Down at the other end, Gary Hynes threatened to not only burst his way past his marker but also burst the net with the ball, but Thistle keeper Dylan Caddis got his body behind the ferocious drive to keep the score at 1-0.
Goldenhill continued to impose their physical side fairly and were starting to overpower Bonnyton in certain areas of the park after the half hour mark. They placed some decent stuff and knocked the ball around and soon enough the had a chance. The away side won a corner on thirty-two minutes and following that Scott Smith sent a dangerous half volley toawrds goal - only to see Caddis produce a superb diving save to the relief of his team mates.
As the half time whistle drew closer however, Bonnyton began to reassert their dominance in the final third. Muir had looked a frustrated figure for the most part so far but a skilful and lung-busting run into the box and shot on forty minutes looked to be going in - only for Burns to stretch out an arm and palm it away.
A golden chance to go ahead came just minutes before the whistle and it fell to the home team. A Ewan Barrie corner reached Steven Hill but his hsot was cleared off the line superbly by a defender. This kept things at 1-0 at the halway point - probably just about fair, as 2-0 would have maybe been a little harsh on Goldenhill.
Half Time: Bonnyton Thistle 1-0 Goldenhill BC
The first half had swung from end-to-end, with Bonnyton just about deserving their 1-0 lead. As was the case for periods of the first half though: chances were sporadic. This was even more apparent in the second half as they game grew tense, with Goldenhill searching for an equaliser while Bonnyton looked to play their way to an extended lead, while trying to remain sensible at the back.
After an hour, all we had seen in the second period were a couple of long range efforts. The battle took place mostly in the middle of the park and Goldenhill looked to have came out with the intention of keeping it tight for the first fifteen minutes or so before mounting an assualt on their opponents.
The likes of Barrie and McCrum were key for Bonnyton with their energy and physical prowess and Calum Gow and Scott Smith were proving crucial for Goldenhill. McCloskey was often the main outball for the counter attack for the home side while Crerand and Jonny Dyer were superb going forward with their direct running and stamina.
The first notable chance of the second half came the way of Bonnyton's Hill, but his speculative effort was beat away by Burns in the away goal.
Goldenhill continued to press with Dyer looking ever dangerous - especially on the turn and in behind - but were lacking a cutting edge or incisive final ball. Bonnyton's McCloskey continued to provide a threat on the left an on seventy-three minutes he went close to making it 2-0. He did well to work some space inside the box before shooting low from an angle, only to see it rebound off the post. McCrum followed in but couldn't sort his feet out under pressure from the Goldenhill defence and he scooped over from five yards.
Then as we entered he last ten minutes: drama. Goldenhill's persistence and battling nature paid off after a better second half and after breaking through the heart of Bonnyton's defence, Dyer was pulled down by Blair Larmour inside the box as he attempted to shoot. Larmour had played well so far and was unfortunate to conceide a foul that marred his performance.
Everyone stood awaiting the result of the penalty as Ryan Coats stepped up to take the kick. Caddis guessed correctly as Coats put the ball to his right - but such was the accuracy that Caddis was unable to get a hand onto it as it nestled in the corner. 1-1.
It was a frantic last five minutes to the game as both teams set about gaining a winner. Bonnyotn looked slightly the more likely and proved so as McCloskey picked ball up from Barrie and went on a tantalising run past four players in the box. His shot flashed wide across goal however with only a few minutes left.
Bonnyton remained on top as they searched for a winner but almost let Goldenhill nick all three points after a momentary lapse of concentration in defence allowed Smith to steal the ball on the edge of the area, but he fired over from eighteen yards.
And that was how it finished. 1-1 in a pendulum-swinging encounter between two of the GADYFL's finest. Both have had success in the Scotish Cup and League cups in recent times and showed there are no signs of quality dropping. The result leaves 'Gowdie' third behind Bonnyton but with a game in hand, and boasting an impressive ratio of eight wins from eleven games and only two losses. This was their first draw.
For Bonnyton, the form continues to underwhelm slightly after a narrow win over Campsie the week previous but the most important thing is that they are still picking up points. Four points from two games against top four sides is a very decent take, especially with one being an away tie. Plus, a return to goalscpring form for Sam McCloskey is a positive.
It was always going to be hard for a team to claim victory in the harsh conditions but nonetheless a fantastic and enthralling game of football was played. Both sides still trail Antonine but have games in hand against the table-toppers and have lost less games.
Full Time: Bonnyton Thistle 1-1 Goldenhill BC