Cup final glory for young Glencairn
Cup is back to Rutherglen for third time in five years
They made us wait right to the final game of the season, but Glencairn Under 21s finally got their hands on some silverware.
The players brought the U21 West of Scotland Cup back to Rutherglen for the third time in five years by defeating Steins Thistle 2-0 in the final at Greenfield Park.
Having tasted defeat in two finals already this season, and missing out narrowly in the Premier League championship race, there was an understandable nervousness as the final approached.
With seven members of the squad playing their final match of their eligibility for under 21 level, the team were determined to end their season on a high.
David Quinn replaced midfielder Njabulo Ndlovu in midfield but otherwise it was a full strength starting team for the young Glens, who were backed by a sizeable contingent of supporters who had made the short journey Shettleston for the match.
The opening stages were cagey, with neither team taking any firm control on the game but Glencairn took the lead in the 14th minute with the first big chance of the game. A ball over the top of the defence saw striker Dale Wallace beat the offside trap, and he produced a calm lob over the goalkeeper and into the empty net, his 23rd goal of the season.
Chris Truesdale saved brilliantly to deny Thistle just moments later and the Steins’ goalkeeper made an excellent stop in the 19th minute to deny Anton Phinn’s low shot on the turn.
There was a huge let-off for the Thistle goalkeeper in the 27th minute when Phinn’s attempted lob from 50 yards slipped through his fingers, but the ball rebounded from the base of the post and bounced back out. If that was lucky for Steins, there was an even bigger escape for The Glens in the 33rd minute. Truesdale misjudged a flighted ball into the penalty area, and was out-jumped by no.9. The ball broke free and the striker fired across goal where the ball was turned into the net by a Thistle player. The celebrations were cut short however, by the assistant referee’s offside flag.
Neither team made any changes at the interval, and Steins came out for the second half in positive fashion.
They almost equalised in the 68th minute when no.8’s shot was deflected inches wide of the far post, with Truesdale wrongfooted and scrambling across goal.
The corner was met by a glancing header which flew narrowly wide of the far post again but Glencairn were clearly needing another goal to make their lead a bit more comfortable.
And the lead was doubled in the 69th minute with quite a delightful strike. McArthur’s clever overhead pass released Wallace on the left, and he checked back slightly before looking up for options. Wallace lifted a precise cross towards David Quinn on the far edge of the penalty area and the midfielder chested the ball down before drilling a left footed shot, on the half-volley, into the far corner of the net to make it 2-0.
The goal celebrations which followed indicated that the Glencairn boys felt that would be the goal that won them the cup, and it seemed to puncture any belief that was left in the Thistle ranks.
Steins huffed and puffed to try and blow down the solid Glencairn defensive line but they were meeting stern resistance from a back four consisting of three players who were clearly determined not to concede a goal in their final match for their team.
Thistle had to keep trying, of course, and they went close after 88 minutes when a shot on the turn flew narrowly wide, and then Truesdale made another good save with his legs to deny no.9 a minute later.
The referee added on four additional minutes, but the young Glens were never in danger of throwing away their grip on the trophy and celebrated a happy end to the season for everybody connected to Rutherglen Glencairn.
Big lift Glencairn U21 captain Ryan Bennett lifts the West of Scotland trophy
Silverware The Glens claimed their first trophy of the season