Thorniewood spot on in cup shootout . . . and Bellshill boost promotion bid

Stefan Law slots home the decisive penalty kick in 4-2 shoot out win over Larkhall.
Stefan Law slots home the decisive penalty kick in 4-2 shoot out win over Larkhall.

Thorniewood edged through to the third round of the Euroscot Engineering Central League Cup after a penalty shootout last Wednesday.

The Viewpark side defeated Larkhall Thistle 4-2 from the spot after the sides fought out a 1-1 draw at Robertson Park.

Both sides found it hard to settle on the bumpy surface.

Young United midfielder Craig Forbes created the game’s first real opportunity in the 13th minute when his tenacity set up for Stefan Law who dragged low and wide of the far post.

Thistle’s Graham Gracie shot well over in the 19th minute before Thorniewood’s Lennon brothers, Chris and Connor, then combined to create a decent opportunity.

Just before half-time Larkhall’s Innes headed over from inside the six-yard box under pressure from United full-back Alex More and the first half ended 0-0.

In the second half the game became stretched as both sides finally began to create some scoring opportunities.

Thistle came close when an Innes shot was deflected behind off the legs of Thorniewood ’keeper Chris Fitzpatrick.

This was followed by a sweeping Thorniewood move which ended with Connor Lennon firing tamely into the grateful hands of visiting ’keeper Colquhoun.

However this was forgotten about in United’s next attack as they took a 70th minute lead.

Law did well before finding substitute JOHN-MICHAEL DEVINE who slipped the ball past the advancing ’keeper.

But ’Wood were then guilty of switching off as from the restart Larkhall levelled when CLARKE was given too much time in the box and beat Fitzpatrick with a dipping effort into the far corner from 14 yards.

Larkhall looked the likelier after that with Clarke forcing Fitzpatrick into a couple of saves with decent strikes.

The ’keeper then had to pull out all the stops in the first minute of injury time to deal with Gracie on the edge of the area after the Thistle striker had latched onto a poor More passback.

For once Thorniewood were victorious in a penalty shoot out with Hamilton, Fleming, Chris Lennon and Law all finding the target, along with two excellent stops by Fitzpatrick from Jack and Clarke, to send United into the next round.

Thorniewood: Fitzpatrick, Green, More, Hamilton, Fleming, Forbes, Getty, Law, Chris Lennon, Connor Lennon, Duggan.

Thorniewood came back down with a bump however when a late, late winner by veteran Greenock substitute John Boyd drove a huge nail into their survival hopes on Saturday.

The visitors departed Robertson Park with all three points after a 2-1 win which left the Viewpark outfit six points adrift of safety and with a huge task to preserve their Super League status.

The visitors almost took the lead inside the opening minute when United ’keeper Chris Fitzpatrick failed to hold a Brown shot and Munro fired the rebound wide from four yards.

This proved the only chance created in the opening stages as both sides showed plenty of effort but clearly struggled to settle on the bumpy surface.

United’s first attempt of note arrived in the 24th minute when a fiercely struck Chris Lennon free-kick was deflected for a corner.

Three minutes later home full-back Dominic Green bravely headed clear despite being caught with a Greenock boot.

A 42nd minute Thorniewood penalty claim was waved away before the home side took the lead in first-half stoppage time when the trialist left back fired a 20 yard free-kick past visiting ’keeper McWilliams.

Thorniewood began the second half minus the injured Lennon and it was his replacement, Craig Forbes, who was first to register an attempt in the 48th minute, his deflected shot winning a corner.

A long Green ball into the box in 51 minutes found Jack Getty but again the attempt was blocked.

A minute later Greenock broke to win a corner after Fitzpatrick was forced to knock behind.

Greenock were reduced to 10 men in the 67th minute when McLaughlin was shown red for a kick at Charles Grant.

But despite this setback the visitors equalised in the 74th minute, Brown shown superb control before playing in MUNRO who slipped the ball under the advancing Fitzpatrick.

A good run by United’s Stefan Law set up a headed opportunity but keeper McWilliams gathered easily.

Another loud penalty appeal by ’Wood in the 82nd minute was again turned down before, in the fourth minute of added time, up popped BOYD at the near post to guide home a free header into the far corner.

Thorniewood: Fitzpatrick, Green, Trialist, Hamilton, Fleming, McSorley, Getty, Law, Johnston (Trialist 77), Grant (Duggan 87), Chris Lennon (Forbes 46). Subs not used: More, Creechan.

Meanwhile Bellshill boosted their bid for promotion on Saturday as they defeated Renfrew 4-2 to earn their first win in four matches.

Having taken just one point from their previous three matches - a draw with Renfrew and two defeats by Dunipace - this win at Fullarton Park was a timely return to winning ways for the Central First Division leaders.

They made a determined start to the game and a second minute Andy Selkirk header from a Jason McKay throw-in went narrowly past.

Two minutes later Renfrew ’keeper Burgess did well to keep out a powerful Craig Holmes effort.

But Bellshill’s non-stop pressure was rewarded after seven minutes when a brilliant STEVEN TART overhead kick following a Chris Dolan corner flew into the net.

Burgess saved attempts from Darren Ferguson and Dolan before Bellshill doubled their lead in the 12th minute when McKAY headed a Max McKee free-kick beyond the helpless ’keeper.

Renfrew’s Gilmour had an effort pushed behind by Bellshill ’keeper Jamie Donnelly who then saved Campbell’s powerful header from the resultant corner.

But Bellshill were soon back on the attack and Holmes, Lee Nichol and Dolan were all denied by Burgess before McKAY added a third goal for rampant Athletic in the 31st minute, netting from 12 yards following a David Shaw throw-in.

A Brian McGinty header was cleared off the line by Cameron and a Holmes effort was saved by Burgess as Bellshill chased a fourth goal.

But the visitors pulled a goal back in the last action of the first half when the unmarked FORBES headed a Nicholson cross beyond Donnelly.

Bellshill added to their total with a stunning strike in the 49th minute.

Nichol gathered a Donnelly throw and ran past several opponents for 60 yards before sending DOLAN clear to beat Burgess with a powerful low drive.

Dolan and substitute Ryan Connelly went close to adding to Athletic’s total and Renfrew defender Chisholm blocked goalbound attempts by James Burke and Holmes.

Holmes then raced past three opponents before Mulgrew deflected his shot behind and from the corner Ferguson fired narrowly over.

Renfrew got a consolation goal in the 87th minute when Tart was adjudged to have handled a Gilmour cross and ARTHUR fired the spot kick low into the net.

Bellshill: Donnelly, Shaw, McKee, Nichol, Tart, Ferguson, Dolan, McGinty (Burke), Selkirk (McCarry), Holmes, McKay (Connelly). Subs not used: Cowie, Brady.

Bellshill could take a major step towards promotion when they travel to face rivals Lesmahagow tonight (Wednesday).

Saturday’s timely return to winning ways over Renfrew left Bellshill still four points clear of Carluke - who have played two games more - at the top of the Central First Division table.

Lesmahagow are fourth, eight points behind Bellshill but with three games in hand, so the outcome of tonight’s game could have a significant say in who goes up.

The other main contenders for the two promotion spots are third-placed Dunipace, also eight points behind Bellshill but with two games in hand, and Blantyre Vics who are seventh, 10 points adrift of Bellshill but with seven games fewer played.

Following the Lesmahagow clash Bellshill are in action again away to St Anthony’s on Saturday and at home to Ashfield next Monday, followed by a Central League Cup clash at Maryhill next Wednesday.