Report: Murray Steele, Photography: Craig McGhee, Media: Lee Conn.
Talbot’s steady climb up the table continued thanks to a hard fought win over a stuffy Benburb at Beechwood.
The opening exchanges were fiercely competitive but virtually chance free, other than a low drive from McAvoy on the right edge of the area that flashed across goal and wide.
The game was being played at a frenetic pace with the ball pinging from end to end and both defences coming out on top.
The first real opening came in the 18th minute when a quickly taken shy sent Thomson scurrying down the left where he swung a good cross into the centre toward Boyd but he was well challenged as he went to head it.
At the other end Menzies chipped a ball into the box to find McDonald in a dangerous area but he was challenged before he could get a shot away.
Neither keeper had been called upon and Hay’s first job of the afternoon was to pick the ball out the back of his net in the 22nd minute. Boyd did well down the left to get away from Halliday and lift a cross into the middle where KYLE MCAVOY hung in the air to meet it & glance a header inside the left post.
In the 26th minute the Bens had a half chance when hesitant defending saw the ball fall to Menzies just outside the area; however he fired his shot well over the bar.
A minute later Talbot broke forward through Thomson who was taken out by Fraser. The ref gave advantage as the ball was with McAvoy but his cross floated through harmlessly to Hay. The referee then called Fraser over and booked him for the earlier foul
Glavin was called into action in the 28th minute. A shy from the left skated off the top of McPherson’s head & fell to Taylor 16 yards out who drove it low & straight at the Bot keeper who made the stop.
The referee managed to upset the home support twice in quick succession when Benburb were flagged for offside by his assistant but he opted to over-rule him and allow play to continue but nothing came of either attack.
The Bot were given a chance to extend their lead in the 42 minute when McAvoy won a free kick just outside the area when he was felled by Livingston. The Bens defender received a yellow card and Schoneville took the set piece – firing it low into the wall and behind for a corner. When Thomson’s corner came over Boyd met it unopposed but steered the free header well wide of the right post.
Into added time Talbot had another chance to add to their lead. A cross from the left was heading for Boyd but a defender did just enough to head it clear. It came out to McPherson on the wing who sped past Allan before swinging over a perfect cross that Boyd headed over the bar from 6 yards and Talbot had to content themselves with a single goal lead at the interval
Talbot continued their recent habit of starting the 2nd half strongly and were nearly in for a 2nd within 3 minutes of the restart. McAvoy did well to get on the end of a ball in behind the defence and cut it back from the bye line only to see the referee run interference and take out two Talbot players as they tried to meet it.
Benburb then threatened when McDonald got away from Schoneville and raced down the wing before speeding a low ball across the face of goal. Glavin couldn’t hold it but fortunately Thomson was there to knock it clear.
In the 53rd minute Boyd gathered a loose ball inside the Bens half and surged forward before firing over the bar.
Two minutes later Talbot threatened again. Boyd swept the ball out right where Livingston looked favourite but Thomson slid in to dispossess him on the touchline and then carried on up the wing. He then cut it back into the path of Boyd who looked set to side-foot it home only for Taylor to nip in with a crucial interception to slide it away.
With 58 mins on the clock Boyle knocked a ball on that came to McAvoy outside the area and he wheeled his marker and fired off a shot that Hay had to turn round his right hand post. The corner was taken short and crossed to the back post where Hay again did well – stopping McAvoy’s net bound header with his feet. The rebound came out to Slooves who blasted over the bar from 8 yards.
A minute later though Talbot did manage to convert their pressure into a goal as they doubled their advantage. McAvoy slipped a ball in behind Halliday to find LUKE GILLIES down the left of the penalty area and he slotted it through Hay to make it 2-0.
Benburb now made a change with Durham on for Menzies and Talbot made a double switch with Thomson & Langan making way for Glasgow & Armstrong.
Glasgow was involved not long after joining the fray as he turned on the right of the area and fired a left foot shot wide of target.
In the 69th minute Talbot made a further change with Wardrope on for Schoneville & Gillies moving to left-back.
With quarter of an hour remaining Black had his name taken for a late challenge on Glasgow.
Two minutes later Benburb who hadn’t offered much at all in the 2nd half had a half chance when a ball was pulled back from the left into the path of Black and his low drive from 15 yards was deflected wide. When the corner came over Clark got his head to it but put it well wide of target.
The visitors huffed & puffed but without offering much in the final third and the win was sealed when Talbot added a third from the spot in the 86th minute. Talbot countered quickly from a Bens corner with Boyle feeding it out wide to Gillies. He slid a pass through to find McAvoy who was shoved over by McDonald and the ref awarded the penalty. CONNOR BOYD took it and sent the keeper the wrong way to make it 3-0.
Tucker now made a final change with Smith coming on for McAvoy.
Two minutes from time Boyd received a caution for a sliding challenge
As the game moved into added time Benburb nearly grabbed a consolation. Allan fired a ball in from the left that bounced off Glavin and out to McGlaughlin who should have scored but his header was saved by Glavin’s trailing leg. Talbot then raced down the other end where Glasgow was flattened just outside the box by Livingston who received his 2nd yellow and made the short trip into the clubhouse. Wardrope took the free kick but didn’t generate enough power to test Hay in what proved the last kick of the match.
A well-deserved win that sees Talbot leapfrog Benburb in the table. Next week Talbot are back on their travels as they head through to Cumbernauld to face Rob Roy in the West of Scotland cup.
Auchinleck Talbot – Glavin, McPherson, Schoneville, Slooves, Wilson, Langan, Boyle, Gillies, Boyd, McAvoy, Thomson
Subs – Smith, Glasgow, Urquhart, Wardrope, Abed, Armstrong, Henry (gk)
Benburb – Hay, Halliday, Allan, Livingston, Clark, Fraser, Menzies, Taylor, McDonald, Black, Lovering
Subs – Bow, Smith, Durham, McGlaughlin, Likkish, McMillan, Low (gk)