PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAUL FLYNN.
MURRAYS MATCH REPORT
Talbot claimed the first silverware of the season in emphatic style; living up to their billing as favourites with a thumping 6-1 win over Lanark United.
Lanark couldn’t have made a worst start as they conceded the softest of goals within 3 minutes of kick off. Young pinged a ball up the right for Glasgow to chase. Johnson raced out his area to clear but made a complete hash of it, knocking the ball straight into the feet of BRYAN BOYLAN who passed it into the empty net to put Talbot ahead.
With 9 minutes gone Talbot had a great chance to double their lead. Healey won the ball in midfield before feeding it on to Glasgow. He in turn slid a pass through the defence to release McDowall through on goal & he steered a shot just wide of the right post from the edge of the area.
McDowall had another opportunity in the 17th minute as Talbot cut open the Lanark defence. Shankland released Boylan down the left & his cutback found McDowall in space 15 yards out but he opted to take a touch & was closed down before he could get his shot away.
The Bot’s next goal threat came in the 22nd minute. Aiden Wilson slotted a pass through to find Glasgow racing clear down the left and his angled drive took a slight deflection on its way just wide of the far post. When the resultant corner came over McCracken steered a header on target that Johnson parried at his right post.
Lanark hadn’t offered much of a threat but reminded Talbot they were in a contest in the 26th minute. They won a free kick out on the right which was flighted into the centre where it was headed clear. It came out to Martin on the edge of the box & his powerful drive was heading on target but was blocked en route by a wall of bodies.
A one goal lead was scant reward for Talbot’s early dominance but another howler from the keeper saw Talbot double their advantage in the 28th minute. Aiden Wilson played it to Shankland on the left & he cut back onto his right foot before crossing into the centre. It skipped off a defender’s head & floated back toward goal where a static Johnson was out-jumped on the goal line by GARETH ARMSTRONG who nodded in Talbot’s second.
It now looked like a question of how many for Talbot & the Bot had two opportunities in quick succession. Shankland’s quickly taken throw in found Boylan racing free on the left. He might have hit it but tried to square it to the unmarked Glasgow only for Haddow to intercept & slide it behind.
Shortly after Shankland chested the ball down into the path of Glasgow on the left and he lifted over a superb cross that landed at the feet of McDowall who flashed a low drive just past the left post.
Just when it looked like Talbot were in complete control Lanark were thrown a lifeline with a wonderful individual effort to reduce the deficit in the 34th minute. O’DONNELL beat Healey to it in the centre, knocked it past Armstrong & rushed forward before crashing an unstoppable shot past Leishman from 30+ yards that flew inside the left post.
The goal galvanised Lanark who for the first time pushed bodies forward and exerted some pressure in the Talbot half but all they had to show for it was a half chance for Martin on the left of the area when a free kick found its way through to him but he fired well wide of target.
A minute later Talbot nearly restored their two goal lead. Aiden Wilson won the ball inside the Lanark half & it broke forward into the path of Glasgow who surged forward before drilling a low shot from distance just wide of the right hand post.
The closing stages of the 1st half were pretty even with neither side able to produce a telling moment in the final third and the sides trooping off at the interval with Talbot a goal ahead.
Lanark must have entertained hopes of making a game of it when play re-commenced but within a minute of the restart Talbot extended their lead without Lanark touching the ball. Right from kick off Talbot pushed forward into the Lanark half & Armstrong shoved a pass into the box toward Healey. He was unceremoniously bundled over by Watt leaving the ref with the easy decision to point to the spot. Stonewaller that it was, this didn’t prevent both Watt & Lawson from talking their way into the book disputing the award before MARK SHANKLAND slotted the ball low inside the keeper’s right post to make it 3-1.
A couple of minutes later Talbot had another chance to test the visitors defence. Shankland nearly got a free haircut courtesy of a raised boot resulting in a Bot free-kick out on the stand side. Shankland whipped over a tremendous delivery & Young got his head to it but couldn’t direct his header on target.
Lanark had a rare chance in the 51st minute. Kerr turned smartly on the left of the area & drilled a low shot across goal that Leishman held.
The game was then held up for a lengthy stoppage when Watt was injured in a 50/50 challenge with Aiden Wilson. The Lanark man took a sore one & initially fans of both sides feared the worst but fortunately after treatment he was able to hobble to his feet & left the fray to be replaced by McHugh.
By the time play restarted an hour had gone and Talbot came within a whisker of adding to their tally. A shy from the right came across to Healey and from 20 yards out he cracked a shot off the right hand post with the keeper well beaten.
The next effort on target came after 68 minutes. McDowall pinged a diagonal ball to find Boylan on the left & he was carried it forward before firing a shot from 20 yards that Johnson held.
The game was ended as a contest in the 73rd minute when Talbot moved 4-1 ahead. Shankland switched play from left to right to find McDowall & he touched it on into the path of BRYAN BOYLAN who drilled a low shot back across & into the opposite corner.
Tucker now made a double switch with Glasgow & Shankland making way for Pearson & Graham Wilson.
O’Donnell picked up what was to prove a costly yellow card in the 75th minute for a late challenge. Talbot now completed their substitutions with McKinlay coming on for Boylan.
With 12 minutes remaining Talbot passed up a chance to extend their lead. McKinlay’ slide rule pass sent Healey clean through on goal but he mis-hit his shot & sent it well wide.
In the 81st minute Haddow joined the growing Lanark crime count when he was cautioned for up-ending Graham Wilson as he surged down the right.
Talbot were now in total control and breached the Lanark defence in the 82nd minute. McDowall touched the ball inside to send McKinlay racing through on goal but he squeezed his shot wide of target under pressure..
Lanark now made a further change with Conlon on in place of Hill.
With five minutes remaining Talbot made it 5-1. Healey spread the ball out left to JACK MCDOWALL who nutmegged Fraser before angling into the box & firing a low shot past Johnson at his near post.
Things went from bad to worse for Lanark when they were reduced to 10 men late on. O’Donnell was already on a caution when he caught Armstrong with a late challenge. The referee duly produced a 2nd yellow then a red and McDowall had his name taken for his angry reaction to the challenge.
With two minutes remaining Talbot completed the scoring and sealed their win with a sixth goal. The Bot won a free kick out on the right which Healey lobbed toward the back post. Johnson came to claim it but missed it & CRAIG MCCRACKEN was lurking at the back post to turn it home from close range.
A good win for the Bot in front of a healthy home gate bolstered by a large travelling contingent through from Lanark. Next up for the Bot it is back to cup action where Talbot will face a much sterner test as they lock horns with big spending Cove Rangers who currently top Division 2 of the SPL.
Auchinleck Talbot – Leishman, Young, Aiden Wilson, McPherson, McCracken, Armstrong, Healey, Shankland, Boylan, Glasgow, McDowall
Subs – Graham Wilson, Pearson, McKinlay, Samson, White
Lanark United – Johnson, Fraser, Gracie, Haddow, Lawson, Lindsay, Watt, O’Donnell, Hill, Kerr, Martin
Subs – Conlon, McHugh, Harrison, Hamilton, McGraw