THISTLE BLOWN AWAY BY BLUEBELLS

Despite a strong wind that made good football almost impossible, Lochee United coasted through to the next round of the Scottish Junior Cup with an ultimately comfortable win over their Lanarkshire visitors.

However, they were almost shocked in the opening minute when Dougie Ryan found himself one on one with goalkeeper Mark Stewart. The striker had all the time in the world to net the opening goal but struck his shot at Stewart’s outstretched legs.

And how the visitors paid for that miss with the Bluebells taking the lead 90 seconds later! A rather harsh hand ball was given against a Thistle defender and, from 25 yards out, Stephen McNALLY sent his free kick powering past keeper Martin Meek.

With a gusty wind at their backs Lochee kept up the pressure and Reece Ritchie’s ball into the box was just too strong to find a team mate.

On 15 minutes the home side doubled their lead. Greg Kirk did well to keep the ball in play and fed it to Ritchie who in turn found Scott McComiskie and Scott’s ball across the face of goal was turned into the net by Connor BIRSE.

Ritchie had a chance to further extend the lead when he intercepted a loose passback but he shot over the bar.

The wind wasn’t doing Lochee many favours as the ball was frequently overhit and East Kilbride gradually came into the game. Paul Lunan was unlucky to handle on the edge of the home box and David McKean’s free kick just went wide of the left hand post.

The visitors had another free kick just minutes later with Ryan just failing to connect with the ball into the penalty area.

Craig Smith was first to go into the book after a clash with Chris Faulds, the first of four bookings for the home side as against two for East Kilbride, but the game was never dirty and Grant Lawson’s yellow card late on was particularly dubious. The other Bluebells to go into the book were Kirk and Dougie Cameron.

As the half ticked away Smith and Lawson combined to put in a dangerous cross for Birse, but the Lochee player just couldn’t reach it.

Thistle came out for the second half in determined mood, reckoning that if they could get an early goal back they might be in with a shout and it very nearly happened.

Just three minutes in, McKean burst into the Lochee box and with just Stewart to beat, managed to blast his effort high and wide.

The Lochee defence came under some pressure at this stage but good work by the back four of McNally, Lunan, Kirk and Danny Millar saw them hold firm and kept the danger away from Stewart.

It was pretty even stevens at this stage but Lochee punctured the Thistle hopes with a third goal on 61 minutes. A good move down the left involving Birse and Lawson saw SMITH convert Lawson’s cross past keeper Meek.

The visitors made a triple substitution at this stage but the home side were coasting now. Logan Davie came on for Ritchie on 65 minutes and three minutes later the game was all but over when Cameron’s cross from the left was tapped home by BIRSE for his second of the match.

Stewart had to look lively to punch away a powerful Scott Hadden free kick but the home side struck again on 70 minutes. Substitute Davie started it by picking up the ball on the halfway line before passing to Birse. Birse then found Smith to Lawson then a ball into the box where DAVIE had continued his run to smash the ball into the goal for Lochee’s fifth.

Jamie Reid then came on for Smith and Scott Webster for Cameron as the Bluebells tightened their grip on the game. Thistle were pretty demoralised at this point but credit to them for some nice football and for having a real go in tricky conditions.

FT: Lochee United 5 East Kilbride Thistle 0

Lochee United: Stewart, McNally, Millar, Lunan, Kirk, McComiskie, Ritchie (Davie 65), Cameron (Webster 78), Lawson, Birse, Smith (Reid 71).

East Kilbride Thistle: Meek, Barclay, C McLean, Faulds (White 61) Marshall, S McKean, Morgan, Hadden, Ryan (McLaughlin 61), D McKean, Gillespie (McClune 61). 

Written on 27 January 2018