Talbot finally managed to beat their bogey side & in keeping with previous encounters it was a dour battle settled by a solitary goal.
The 1st chance of the match came Talbot’s way. Graham Wilson lifted the ball down the left to send Milliken racing in behind the defence. He knocked it past the advancing Hughes but couldn’t gather it & the ball went behind for a goal kick.
Kilbirnie then took over in midfield, and created two chances in quick succession when firstly Forde tested Leishman from 20 yards out & then Johnstone cut in from the left wing before firing a low shot which Leishman also held.
Chances were few & far between though Talbot did put together a good move in the 16th minute. Pope released G Wilson down the left & he squared it across the 6-yard line where Milliken was challenged just as he was about to hit it.
Kilbirnie were enjoying the bulk of the pressure & Talbot had a lucky escape in the 22nd minute. Kilbirnie won a free kick on the right touchline which was fired across to the far edge of the area to Forde. He played it back across the area where Green missed a sitter; mishitting wide from straight in front of goal.
Thus far Hughes had been a virtual spectator with Talbot creating little in the final third & the Blasties keeper could do little but watch as Talbot took the lead out of the blue in the 34th minute. A shy from the right came in to MCCRACKEN & he lashed an unstoppable shot inside the right post to put Talbot 1-0 ahead.
Kilbirnie huffed & puffed but couldn’t make any headway against a resolute Talbot defence & the half meandered to a finish with neither side looking like scoring.
Kilbirnie made a change at the interval with Haxton on at left-back in place of Gray.
Talbot had an early chance to double their lead. Staunton conceded a free kick out on the left. Pope delivered it into the centre where McCracken rose to meet it but placed his header over the bar from 8 yards out.
Just as in the 1st half clear cut chances were in short supply. Kilbirnie did threaten in the 58th minute when Ronald fizzed a free kick into the area from the left touchline. Forde controlled it but Harvey got across to tackle him before he could get his shot away.
Rafferty was cautioned in the 59th minute for a scything challenge on Steven Wilson. Young took the resultant free kick & lifted it into the box where Hyslop glanced a header just wide of the right post.
Kilbirnie were being stymied by the Bot defence & unable to test Leishman in the 2nd half. Their 1st effort of the half didn’t come until the 68th minute when they won a free kick 35 yards out. Rafferty took it & whist it was a good effort his shot was always flying high & wide of target.
Talbot now made their 1st change with White on for McCracken.
Young had a half chance to double Talbot’s lead in the 70th minute. G Wilson slid the ball through to find him inside the area & he cut inside to create space but fired wildly over the bar from 15 yards.
Haxton became the 2nd Blasties player in the book when cautioned for a late challenge on G Wilson.
It should have been game over in the 76th minute. Young & Milliken worked a neat one-two down the left to send Milliken free. He whipped the perfect cross over to the back post where Graham Wilson placed a free header over the bar from close range.
Both sides now made a further change with Shankland replacing G Wilson & the home side bringing on Anderson for Harkins.
Talbot’s failure to add to their lead ensured a nervy ending as the home side pushed forward to salvage a point. They won a free kick in a dangerous area in the 85th minute when Talbot were caught cold by a short corner. It was worked to Haxton who was impeded just outside the penalty area with Lyle picking up a caution for dissent. Forde whipped it across the 6-yard area where Hyslop headed it clear. Talbot had the opportunity to catch Ladeside on the counter but a poor final ball from Milliken saw the chance go a begging.
With 2 mins remaining Shankland sent Milliken through on the left. He succeeded in taking it wide of Hughes but ran out of space & couldn’t prevent it drifting behind for a goal kick.
Tucker now made a final change with Stevenson on for Milliken.
As the game moved into injury time the home side were reduced to 10 men when Haxton picked up his 2nd caution.
Somehow the referee managed to find almost 5 minutes of added time but Kilbirnie couldn’t get past the Bot defence & Talbot stood firm to claim all 3 points.
Not one of Talbot’s better perfomances but another clean sheet & 3 points gained. Next up for Talbot is Pollok’s visit to Beechwood in the league.
Kilbirnie – Hughes, Staunton, Gray, Green, Donnelly, Rafferty, Ronald, Harkins, Grehan, Forde, Johnstone
Subs – O’Byrne, Smith, Anderson, Haxton, Kerr (gk)
Talbot – Leishman, Lyle, Pope, Harvey, McGoldrick, McCracken, Hyslop, S Wilson, Milliken G Wilson, Young
Subs – Shankland, White, Stevenson, Boyle, Pooler
|March 4, 2017||14:00||2016/17|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals|
|6||Craig McCracken 12||Defender||1||0||0||0|
|15||Mark Shankland 9||Forward||0||0||0||0|
|9||Graham Wilson 15||Forward||0||0||0||0|