Talbot ensured they ended 2015 sitting atop the league table thanks to a hard fought win over Troon.
The playing surface was in pristine condition, considering the amount of rain that’s fallen recently, though a strong, swirling wind made it a difficult afternoon for both sets of players.
Talbot won the toss and elected to play to the Coal Road end, against the wind, an inspired decision as it turned out.
The 1st clear chance came Talbot’s way in the 6th minute. Cochrane swung a good cross into the centre which Wilson flicked on toward the back post. Young ran onto it and hit it 1st time but sent his shot wide of target.
Troon threatened on the counter-attack in the 9th minute. Spence broke down the centre before releasing it wide right to Harvey. He whipped a cross over that swirled beyond Leishman but carried past the far post and out for a goal kick.
Talbot won a free kick in shooting range in the 14th minute following a foul on Hyslop. Pope & Wilson both left it to one another, before Wilson finally took it but he got too much on it and sent his shot sailing high off target.
The breakthrough came in the 17th minute and it was a well-worked move. Young sent the ball inside to Boyd who switched play out to Cochrane on the right. He freed Lyle on the overlap and he fired a cross to the back post where Young guided a header back across goal and HYSLOP applied the finishing touch from close range.
The lead almost proved short-lived when McGoldrick came close to an own goal in the 19th minute. Harvey’s low cross cannoned off him and flew up onto the crossbar before going behind for a corner kick.
Wilson did well in the 27th minute when he spun on the edge of the area before releasing a reverse pass toward Young. Butch would’ve been clean through on Semple but for a timely interception from Keenan.
The next effort at goal came on the half hour mark. Pope played it into the feet of Wilson and he teed it up for Hyslop to strike but he fired it well wide of target.
Keenan tested Leishman in the 35th minute when he drilled a daisy cutter on target from 25 yards that Leishman held low to his left.
Two minutes later it was Talbot back on the attack. Milliken knocked the ball out wide to Young who did well to keep the ball in play. He then skinned Harvey, raced into the box and fired a dangerous low ball across goal which McKnight cleared. It came straight back out to Young who hit it 1st time and curled it wide of the far post.
Harvey was proving to be Troon’s most dangerous player and he had the Bot defence at full stretch in the 40th minute. He found space on the right and whipped a cross into the centre which McGoldrick managed to scramble clear.
Talbot doubled their lead in the 42nd minute. Wilson won a corner off Collins on the right and when Young whipped the corner across the 6-yard box it appeared to hit the hand of a Troon defender. The ball fell to HYSLOP and he stretched out a leg to fire it into the roof of the net to send Talbot in 2 goals ahead at the interval.
Troon came out flying at the start of the 2nd half as they looked to get an early goal back and their 1st chance came in the 47th minute when Lyle conceded a free kick 30 yards out. Keenan took it and curled a shot past the wall that Leishman gathered inside his right post.
Two minutes later Troon threatened down the right. Harvey looked to be caught by Pope just outside the area but the ref allowed the advantage as it broke to Forsyth inside the area. He took a touch and fired for goal but his shot was blocked by McGoldrick.
Troon continued to press and they had the Bot defence at full stretch in the 56th minute. Harvey swept a cross in from the right that eluded everyone in the centre before coming out to Moore on the left edge of the penalty area. He angled a shot at goal that Lyle blocked behind for a corner.
Talbot managed to clear the resultant corner out the area but only as far as Keenan and he knocked an early ball back into the 6-yard box where Forsyth managed to get on the end of it but he only succeeded in flicking it straight at Leishman.
Troon now made their 1st change with Muir coming on for McKenna.
The visitors very nearly pulled one back in the 62nd minute. Milliken lost possession around halfway and Troon swiftly countered down the right, feeding the ball into the feet of Forsyth and he fired a shot an inch wide of Leishman’s left post.
Tucker made a double switch in the 64th minute with Gillies replacing Wilson up front and Latta coming on in place of Cochrane.
Talbot had spent most of the 2nd period on the back foot but very nearly moved 3 ahead in the 70th minute. Milliken’s ball in from the left wing found Hyslop inside the box and he laid it off to Latta whose shot was arrowing into the back of the net until Semple dived full length to his right to touch it round the post.
Two minutes later Milliken had a golden chance to kill the game off. Latta flighted a good ball over the defence and Milliken sped away from Collins clean through on Semple. He could’ve carried on into the box but instead opted to hit it early and blazed his shot way over the bar.
Talbot made their final change in the 77th minute when Shankland came on to replace Milliken.
Having weathered Troon’s early 2nd half pressure Talbot were now comfortably in control and looked the more likely to grab the next goal.
In the 79th minute Pope swung a free kick in behind the defence that Gillies was inches from connecting with.
Two minutes later and Talbot won another free kick, this time just outside the penalty area for a foul on Shankland. Pope swung it into the centre where Collins headed it clear.
Troon made a change with 7 minutes remaining when Curragh came on for Harvey.
The referee hadn’t produced a card all afternoon but that changed in the 86th minute when he booked 3 players over the one incident. Muir was shown a yellow card for a cynical challenge that sent Pope to the turf as he raced free on the left. Pope was then cautioned for his reaction to the challenge and Keenan also received a booking for getting involved.
Deep into injury time Talbot had a final chance to add to their lead. Boyd played a great pass through to Shankland to send him through down the left. He raced into the area and fired a low shot across goal but it slipped just past Semple’s left hand post.
This was an impressive win from Talbot who did all the damage in the 1st half and defended resolutely when Troon applied pressure after the interval.
Talbot – Leishman, Lyle, Pope, McGoldrick, White, Boyd, Young, Hyslop, G Wilson, Milliken, Cochrane
Subs – Gillies, Shankland, S Wilson, Latta, Love
Troon – Semple, Keenan, Armstrong, McKnight, Collins, Chatham, Harvey, Spence, Forsyth, McKenna, Moore
Subs – McCrea, Brown, Muir, Curragh, Fraser
|December 20, 2015||19:00||2015/16|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals|
|9||Graham Wilson 15||Forward||0||0||0||0|
|12||Mark Shankland 10||Forward||0||0||0||0|