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Thistle pip Vale in penalty thriller

Bonnyton Thistle 2

Craig 29, Barrie 34

Rossvale BC 2

Simpson 40, Bradley 44
  • Bonnyton Thistle win 4-3 on penalties
  • Saturday, 29 March 2014
  • Greenwood Academy
  • Under 21´s
  • LSK West of Scotland Cup

Ryan Rowe | YFS South West Region Journalist & Bonnyton Thistle Reporter
Author's Bio | Articles by Author | [email protected]

Bonnyton Thistle and Rossvale BC took each other by the neck all the way to penalties in the LSK West of Scotland Cup, with the side from Ayrshire taking the win 4-3 on penalties. Bonnyton went ahead after an even half hour and doubled their lead minutes later; two half volleys into either corner from Jordan Craig and Ewan Barrie. Rossvale’s effectiveness on the right hand side opened up their path to drawing level, via a Glen Stokes cross finished by Darren Simpson and a whipped free kick from Joe Bradley. A stale second half led to penalties and Gavin Currie grabbed the headlines.
Blustery winds and intermittent spells of rain in the first half did little to deter both sides from attacking, the fast-paced nature of the opening exchanges checking the ‘typical cup tie’ box. Both are close in the West of Scotland YFL league table, Thistle in third and Rossvale sixth but the former has played four games more. This was the first meeting between the two sides this season though in previous years these clubs have been known for their cup successes.
Bonnyton striker Steven Hill forced the first save of the match after six minutes when Thistle launched a counter attack, something that would become a theme for the opening half hour. Left winger Chris Gardiner nipped the ball in between the goalkeeper and defender from the edge of the box but Hill’s toe-poke was averted by the fingertips of Gareth Watson. Hill would go close again ten minutes later, hitting the post after Rossvale fluffed their lines at the back, but he would have to wait until the shootout for his next chance.
Rossvale had their fair share of beef with the referee in the first half. The first incident came when tricky winger Simpson sped down the left, drawing Bonnyton centre back Blair Larmour out of position to cover for Kyle Finnie at full back. Simpson was able to find forward Conor Clark in the vacated space inside the box. Clark had a tight angle to score from but he stabbed the ball at goal after jinking past Andy Strachan – only to then be tripped by out-rushing goalie Chris Murchie. The Vale striker was upended and claims for a penalty ensued, but to no avail.
Bonnyton’s opening goal caused some debate too, with claims of handball in the run-up largely ignored. Nevertheless, nothing can be taken away from Craig’s magnificent half-volley on the half-hour mark.
The game was evenly balanced when the ball fell to Craig about 25 yards from goal and he lit rip with a Steven Gerrard-esque drive from the edge of the box to put his team in pole position to advance to the next round, wheeling away as the ball nestled in the bottom corner.
Two minutes later Rossvale were again at odds with the referee when Hill was played through 1v1 against the goalkeeper and allowed to go on unopposed despite cries of offside. Watson this time came to the rescue as he rushed out and smothered the ball from Hill’s feet 16 yards out.
Things could have been so different however. In between the penalty claim and Bonnyton’s goal Simpson again exposed Bonnyton down the right but his cross couldn’t be converted by Glen Stokes’ head. Rossvale had been moving the ball with more conviction in this spell too but they couldn’t find a cutting edge.
With 15 to go until half time Bonnyton elected to switch their wingers, David Shedden and Chris Gardiner. A couple of minutes later, Rossvale followed suit as Stokes and Simpson swapped sides. It was unclear at the time if it was to combat what Bonnyton had done or to exploit a potential weakness but by half time it was obvious that Rossvale had got the better of the tactical mind-games.
Before that however, Thistle grabbed a crucial second goal to give them some breathing space. After a flat spell for both sides, Barrie, Stuart Davidson and Hill exchanged some one-touch passes in triangles on the edge of the box, with the former starting and finishing the move. He continued his run from the 30 yards out into the penalty box and slammed home a half-volley low into the left corner.
Bonnyton’s right side had been pursued by Rossvale consistently in the first half. Vale’s 4-4-2 allowed them to be direct and the wingers did a great job of giving the team width. Numerous diagonal balls across the pitch had Bonnyton worried and now the raw pace of Stokes would be able utilise them, with Simpson preferring the ball to feet. Stokes had the ball played to him in the final third and he was urged to get at the defence. He crossed to the idle of the box and it was the man he had switched with who attacked the ball, taking a superb first touch that helped him evade the defenders either side of him and another to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
Rossvale’s second goal came from the left side too. Bonnyton conceded a free kick out wide following some sustained pressure from the away side and Joe Bradley whipped the ball in with the inside of his right boot. It evaded everyone in the box and landed in the bottom corner and with less than five minutes until half time the score was all square once more.
  • Half Time:
  • Bonnyton Thistle
  • 2-2
  • Rossvale BC
The second half would pale in comparison to the first in terms of chances created and in excitement overall. Both sides engaged in a chess-like game of tactics with Rossvale switching from 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1 and Thistle putting an extra man up top, briefly going with three at the back before switching to a more conventional two banks of four.
After 15 minutes we were still waiting for either keeper to be tested, with the game becoming a battle in midfield. Grant Dickie, leading the line for Vale, had to feed off a mixture of scraps and the odd through ball for service but nonetheless he put in a great shift.
Dickie’s best chance of a goal came when he picked a loose ball on the right hand side, about ten yards inside the Bonnyton half on 55 minutes. He dribbled inside past numerous players, goading them into tackles and waiting for a shooting opportunity to arise. When it came, at about 20 yards from goal, he let rip with his laces and sent to ball low towards the corner. The ball skimmed along the ground and rebounded back off the post; the rebound fell to Stokes but he scuffed his outside-of-foot shot harmlessly wide.
Chances continued to be at a premium, with set pieces being the main path to goal. Each side played seemingly afraid of losing another goal, being rather tentative on the ball. Moreover, despite the formation changes, both sets of players were reluctant to commit to many bodies forward. When Bonnyton did, Rossvale were quick to counter and had a couple of decent openings but Murchie and the Bonnyton defence managed to avert the danger each time.
For the home side, substitute Marc Abercrombie had two good chances either side of a Craig McLaren free kick. The first came after some neat work on the edge of the box and a through ball that was blocked by Watson and the second was a header following a set piece that sailed over the bar from close range. Larmour also saw a header saved from a set piece situation.
The tie would be going straight to penalties and after 75 minutes that possibility became increasingly likely, in the wake of Abercrombie’s missed header. It was in the dying embers of the game that Shedden was substituted for Currie – he would have a big impact in the penalty shootout.
The shriek of the full time whistle indicated penalties were on the cards. The result of the toss meant that Rossvale would hit first, and the penalties would go from right to left, toward Corsehill Mount Road.
  • Full Time:
  • Bonnyton Thistle
  • 2-2
  • Rossvale BC
Vale’s Bradley stepped up first, the small midfield maestro who had scored and influenced the game all day. It was low and down the middle and saved by Murchie’s legs.

Sean Mears was the first to try for Bonnyton. He dispatched his with confidence, off the bar and in. Mears had been something of an unsung hero for Thistle as he continued to deputise well as a forward converted to left back.

Things would be levelled up after the second round of kicks with centre half Kieran Lynch slotting home coolly and Abercrombie smacking the bar.

Rossvale went ahead after the third lot of kicks, turning the shootout on its head. David Leadbetter struck with the left foot and then Davidson struck the bar. So far all three of Thistle’s penalties had hit the bar with a success rate of one out of three.

Following the next round of penalties things would be level again as Daryl MacDonald blasted over and Craig slammed home down the middle. Dickie and Hill, the two number 9s, both scored their spot kicks and now it went to sudden death.

Kyle McBeth stepped up first but Murchie made a terrific save to his right. Finnie then stepped up with the chance to win the game but he rocketed his attempt miles over the bar.

Rossvale had a lifeline and substitute Chris Banks had the chance to seal a memorable moment. Murchie was once again on top form however with a great save to set up another substitute, Currie, with the chance to win the tie.

Currie stepped up, took a breath and confidently drilled his penalty into the bottom left hand corner before turning round and fist-pumping to his team-mates.

Bonnyton will now go into Round Three to face Bishopton Juniors, while in the league they await the chasing pack who seek to push them out of the top three.

Rossvale are more than capable enough of pushing teams like Bonnyton in future games and when they catch up on their backlogged league games they will be a force to be reckoned with in the west.

Final Result: Bonnyton Thistle win 4-3 on penalties


Bonnyton Thistle
Rossvale BC
1. Chris Murchie
2. Craig McLaren
3. Jordan Craig
4. Ewan Barrie
6. Sean Mears
7. David Shedden
8. Stuart Davidson
9. Steven Hill
11. Marc Abercrombie
14. Kyle Finnie
15. Blair Larmour
17. Chris Gardiner
19. Andy Strachan
21. Gavin Currie
1. Gareth Watson
2. Dominic McCafferty
3. David Leadbetter
4. Daryl MacDonald
5. Kieran Lynch
6. Kyle McBeth
8. Joseph Bradley
9. Grant Dickie
10. Conor Clark
11. Glen Stokes
12. Darren Simpson
14. Ciaran Smith
15. Christopher Banks
16. Sean Doherty
17. Ryan McSherry
Star Player
Bonnyton Thistle
Rossvale BC
Andy Strachan was a rock in defence and Sean Mears played the role of unsung hero but Chris Murchie's heroics in the penalty shootout ensure he picks up this award. He made two great saves down to either side and stopped another with his legs. He intimidated his opponents and also made some key saves during the game.
Darren Simpson and Glen Stokes were superb on the wings but their influence faded in the second half, whereas Joe Bradley did well from midfield throughout the game. He picked passes from all over and always wanted to get on the ball. His free kick was special, too
Magic Moment
Bonnyton Thistle
Rossvale BC
The moment substitute Gavin Currie sent the team into the next round. His penalty was supremely taken and was never in doubt.
Joe Bradley's free kick that equalised things and got the away side deservedly back in the game. He fooled everyone with his swerve and dipping effort.
Club Views
Bonnyton Thistle
Rossvale BC
Garry Bole, coach, said that "it was good to get into the next round" but that he was unhappy with many aspects of the game from his team.
Kevin, coach, said: “We didn’t start well but I felt we were the better team in the second half...Penalties is a lottery.”
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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