Lochaber Jags take home Iain Thomson Memorial Trophy
The quality is in our changing room, but only if we play the game our way” Alan Gray
South Lochaber Thistle 3 Cardross 1
HAVING had a three-week break due to inclement weather, the final had been put back a week so Thistle could have been forgiven for starting sluggishly.
This, however, was not the case. The first 10 minutes saw Thistle pile heavy pressure onto Cardross, with the direct running from Munro, Kennedy and Noble causing all sorts of problems for the Cardross back line.
Despite the pressure from the Jags attacking trio, it took a fortuitous goalkeeping error to break the deadlock. An indirect free kick from just inside the Cardross half from Kieran Lopez appeared to be catching practice for the unchallenged Cardross keeper, only for the ball to bounce off his gloves and into the back of the net making it 1- 0 to South Lochaber.
The Jags continued to press with the frustration evident in the Cardross camp. This was intensified as a strong run from Kennedy saw the ball bounce to Sean Noble, who had luck on his side as the ball rebounded up off the defender onto his chest before he was able to poke the ball under the keeper to make it 2- 0 to the Lochaber side.
As half-time approached, Cardross began to come into the game and had some good pressure on the edge of the Thistle box only to find their attempts thwarted at source by a dogged Jags midfield. Their opportunity came, however, from a cross ball when some good forward play by the Cardross striker saw Danny Mackintosh caught under the man as the cross came in, resulting in a penalty to Cardross. Thistle keeper Hunter was booked for his protestations at what appeared a soft penalty. The Cardross striker’s well-placed penalty down low in the corner was only bettered by Ryan Hunter’s acrobatic save, giving Thistle a feeling of confidence and buoying them until half-time whistle sounded.
The second half brought with it tired legs with both teams beginning to toil in the glorious Glasgow sunshine. This didn’t, however, stop Thistle from continuing to pressure with Dave Forbes working higher up the park to support Kennedy. Tireless work in midfield from Stephen Lopez and Andrew Mclean frustrated Cardross leading to some hefty challenges coming the Jags’ way.
Cardross began to create chances, however, and capitalised on a misplaced pass back in the 80th minute to pull a goal back, making it 2-1 to Thistle.
This was a warning to Thistle as legs really began to tire, with cramp rife among them after a long season and intense match. Lieder replaced Forbes in the centre of the park. Shortly after, a terrible challenge off the ball, missed by the referee, saw Kennedy taken off injured to be replaced by Lewis Morrison.
Thistle began to pile pressure on again with Morrison narrowly missing a headed opportunity after great wing play from Munro.
With the game becoming ever more scrappy, manager Alan ‘Spud’ Gray replaced Stephen Lopez as Thistle looked to close out the game.
As the game was in its final throes, a Cardross corner was cleared well by Gray before the ball broke to Andrew Mclean who drove beyond the Cardross defence before squaring it to Martin Munro who calmly placed the ball under the keeper and into the bottom corner giving the Jags a 3-1 lead.
On the final whistle, a jubilant Thistle had their hands on their second trophy of the season. With the West of Scotland Amateur League folding after the game South Lochaber will be the last team to have won both the Challenge Shield and the Iain Thomson Memorial Trophy and of this they are very proud.
Manager Gray had this to say after the final whistle: ‘ When you work so closely with a group of players such as we have you never doubt their ability. I’ve said to them all season that the quality is in our changing room, but only if we play the game our way.
‘ We did that today and, to be fair to them, they have all season. I am very proud of them all and although I am looking forward to finally getting a break I can’t wait to see what next season brings.
‘Thank you to everyone involved in the club and for those who travelled down to cheer on the lads.’
South Lochaber Thistle will be having their awards ceremony at Sunny’s Sports bar in Fort William from 7pm on Saturday June 24 and everyone is welcome (16+ with an adult until 10pm then 18+ thereafter). Entrance is free and there are prizes to be won.
South Lochaber Thistle celebrate their win at the weekend.