Kerrydale Celtic 3 FirParkCorner FC 3
FirParkCorner FC took on
Manager David Fraser had stressed to his side the importance of winning this fixture in the dressing room, as it would get the side off to the perfect start after a four week lay off due to the winter break, and it would serve as revenge for the 4-3 reversal suffered in Hamitlon last April.
The Corner could boast almost a complete squad ahead of the fixture, with only 'keeper Farmer and centre half Ramage not in attendance, with Gordon Miller deputising in goals, and Gavin Hepworth keeping his place in defence. As a result, Manager Fraser could take his pick from any of 20 available players to fill the remaining 9 positions.
Deciding upon a 3-5-2 setup, Ross Mitchell and Ross Cunningham were given the nod to partner captain Hepworth, with Wyper and Boyd starting at right and left wing back respectively.
The 3 Central Midfielders were unchanged from the last match in Kirkcaldy, with Tony O'Neill, Chris Miller and Ross Galloway lining up behind David Tonner and Darryn Alexander up-front.
The early stages of the match saw frequent hurried clearances, and little football played, due in large part to the conditions, as well as a couple of cynical challenges that went unpunished by the referee.
The first real chance of the game came from a freekick to Kerrydale, after Chris Miller had brought down his opposite number, stemming from an incident minutes earlier when the roles had been reversed. It was from this freekick that FPC came out on top with the ball, Wyper expertly releasing
Alexander along the deck to outpace the defence and round the keeper. 1-0 to the visitors.
It was two nil a few minutes later, again, Darryn Alexander again getting away from his marker to slot home after latching onto another through ball after good build up from front to back. 2-0 to the corner, midway through the first half, and given the conditions which were frequently gusting the ball back onto the Motherwell sides defence, causing them to play mainly on the break, it seemed as if there may be only one outcome when FPC would have to play with the wind in the second half.
However, before half time could be reached, Kerrydale fought back into the match. The 'Corner found themselves unable to weather the storm (quite literally), and the breakthrough came when goalkeeper Gordon Miller spilled a swerving shot, which was rammed home from short range. Minutes later, the scores were level, after another wind-assisted shot, had to be palmed onto the bar, eluding the defence on the rebound, allowing a similar finish to the previous goal. 2-2 at half time.
David Fraser elected to swap Boyd with Speedie, and introduce Barclay to the defence, as FPC looked to regain the initiative in the second half. However, as luck would have it, conditions were rapidly beginning to clear up, allowing for a much more level playing field.
The second period started at a subdued pace, with both teams trying to adjust after the conditions had made playing football difficult in the first half. Chances were few and far between, however Darryn Alexander could count himself unlucky not to have a hat-trick after the referee decided from 60 yards away, and through a ruck of players, that he had handled the ball before slotting home.
Once again the Manager used this opportunity to change things, keeping things in the family by bringing on his cousin Alan Easton as a replacement for Wyper at right back, Ross Clark for Chris Miller, and introducing top Scorer Joe Lynas upfront to partner Alexander as they searched for another goal.
Ross Galloway was the next to try his luck, and was unfortunate to put a header wide that seemed easier to score. Just when it started to feel like the goal was never going to come, the on-form Alexander completed his much-deserved hat-trick by turning his marker on the edge of the penalty area and slotting past the goalkeeper.
Just when it seemed the visitors had done enough to earn the victory, disaster struck in injury time when a hopeful cross into the box was caught by a gust of wind to leave Gordon Miller stranded for Alan Easton to attempt a goal-line clearance which somehow ended up in the roof of the net.
A comedy of errors, aided by a freak gale was to deny Frasers men victory, but they can be happy with the performance, especially after so long without a competitive fixture. There's no doubt they'll be looking to get back to winning ways when Vale of Leven travel through on league duty this weekend.
FirParkCorner FC 7 (seven) Vale of Leven 0
FirParkCorner got back to winning ways on Sunday as Vale of Leven made the long journey to Wishaw. The match had hardly started when Joseph Lynas stretched his lead as the club’s top goalscorer by slotting past the goalkeeper from close range.
Darryn Alexander continued his scoring run shortly afterwards with a quickfire double in which he rounded the goalkeeper twice to put the ball into an empty net. Some good work by Tony O'Neill and Malcolm Boyd down the left-hand side allowed the youngster to complete his hat-trick before half-time as Vale found themselves down and out.
Sadly for them, the pattern of the game didn't change in the second half, with Lynas and Alexander devastating going forward and Ross Mitchell outstanding at the back. A long ball from half-time sub goalie Gordron Miller was flicked on to Lynas by Alexander and he did the rest to make it 5-0 to the home side. Goal number six was not long in coming as Vale of Leven really started to lose their shape. Darryn Alexander brilliantly volleyed in off the post from the corner of the box following a good cross from Michael Anderson.
The scoring was completed with fifteen minutes left to play when Lynas also bagged his hat-trick after Darryn Alexander unselfishly squared the ball for the tiny striker to stroke home from the penalty spot.
Vale of Leven were awarded a late penalty when player-manager David Fraser was harshly judged to have upended a striker in the box, but the visitors misfortune continued as the shot was dragged wide of Millers right-hand post.
Fraser was glad to see his side get back to winning ways after the late equaliser on Tuesday night, but he did have words of criticism for one player, even despite the emphatic scoreline. He was heard to say after the match: "The lads have bounced back brilliantly after the winter break and look as good and sharp as ever. The only player who looked rusty today was me! I think I'll keep my tracksuit on next week!"