Fame from Smoke – Rutherglen Glencairn – 06/04/2022

Background

Rutherglen Glencairn have represented the former Royal Burgh for 126 years and are a large part of the town’s heritage. The club crest matches the symbols represented on the town seal, incorporating the values of the local community simultaneously. With the historical importance of Rutherglen to the west of Scotland, it is fitting that the football club have similar success to add their own mark on the town.

The Glens played their first ever game in August 1896, and it did not take long for the club to cement themselves into Scottish junior football folklore. In 1902, The Glens brought home the Scottish Junior Cup for the first time, with a team considered to be one of the best to win the trophy. If once wasn’t enough, Rutherglen went on to win the trophy another three times, with the latest arriving back to the town in 1939. Their four-time success makes the club one of the more prestigious winners of the competitions.

Presently, Glencairn ply their trade in the West of Scotland Premier Division and are fighting for their right to stay there. A massive month of league fixtures await the club, with relegation to the up-coming First Division looming if they don’t pick up the results they need. A West of Scotland Kilmarnock Pie Cup game may give welcome distraction though, with Arthurlie the visitors to the Hamish B. Allan Stadium. With Arthurlie looking prime time favourites for the Conference ‘A’ title, a tasty encounter looked on the cards.

Facilities

The Hamish. B Allan Stadium is named after a lifelong committee member and supporter of the club. The ground is easily accessible and sits incredibly close to the town’s centre. Upon entrance, you are greeted with the pitch head on, with the single-tiered stand on the left-hand side. It looks good, if a bit simple. The M74 motorway and railway line lie in clear view behind the far-side goal, adding a modern, unique, and structural feel to the ground. A small embankment lies opposite the main stand, presumably made for visiting supporters on sunnier match days.

Glencairn branding is displayed around the stadium, colours and all. It’s a small thing, but I feel it adds a nice sense of identity to a footballing arena. Decent toilet and food/drink facilities are also available, with helpful staff to boot.

Overall, I really enjoy the Hamish B. Allan Stadium and feel it is one of the more personable grounds I have visited this season.  It is a bit rustic in places, but a bit of character never hurt anyone. 3/5.

Atmosphere

For a midweek second round cup tie that looked destined to be rained off, the atmosphere within the ground was surprisingly lively. A good number of travelling Arthurlie supporters arrived in literal busloads, decked out in light blue and white merchandise. They largely took up the far side of the main stand and were in decent voice all game, especially when the occasion became a bit feisty. A decent number of Glencairn fans made themselves heard too, but as the game progressed, they naturally lost their voice. Overall, it is very positive to see a good crowd for games like this. It adds a sense of occasion and importance to the match, and I’m sure the players feel the same. 3/5.

Quality of the Match

The Conference ‘A’ side started the better of the two sides, but it took a good ten minutes before the first real chance could be carved. A swift counter saw the ball swept to winger Gary Carroll. His low cross looked destined to hit his teammate at the back post, but for a shinned deflection over the bar. A close shave for the home side.

Rutherglen were struggling to contain the visitor’s pace going forward, with another decent chance heading their way. After cutting inside on the edge of the box, Carroll fed striker Dale Simeon with plenty of space in front of him. Unfortunately, he scuffed his shot and the ball bundled wide of the mark.

For the next fifteen minutes, both teams really struggled to get a passing game going, with long balls dominating most of the play. It almost – and should have- put the hosts in front. After a clearance from the back, Glens front-man Kit Cummins took a wonderful touch past the pressing Arthurlie defender and raced clear. With time on his hands and the ball at his feet, he could only hit the onrushing Garry Black; keeping the scores level. A huge moment in the game.

Cummins was at it again minutes later. With Rutherglen gaining momentum and sensing an opening, Thomas Lone whipped in a superb ball into the area. Cummins glancing his header toward goal. Unfortunately, the ball inched just wide, with the big man rueing his luck.

In return, Arthurlie’s next move deserved a goal. Another good counterattack left Simeon out on the right, with his first-time cross reaching compatriot Kris Amponsah in the middle. With a first-time volley, the winger’s strike flew just over the bar in what could have been an incredible opening goal.

That goal did come in the final minute of the half. With the Rutherglen defence clearing another cross, a misjudged bounce was pounced on quickly by Arthurlie centre-back Calum Nolan. With a single stride, he unleashed a low, driven effort from twenty-five yards which arrowed into the bottom corner. It is the type of strike to ignite any match.

Half Time: Rutherglen Glencairn 0-1 Arthurlie

The Glens looked to bounce back from the sucker punch quickly and started the second half the brighter. After some attacking pressure, a corner met the head of defender Callum Shields, with the effort going just wide.

From this scare, Arthurlie switched gears and surmounted an unbelievable assault on the Rutherglen goal. First, a mistake in the corner allowed substitute Nab Zeb to nip in and dribble into the box. His pass inward found Tam McAughey, with one more falling to Dale Simeon. With time on the striker’s side, his effort was saved well by the feet of ‘keeper Scott McLellan, with the ball flying over for a corner.

Five minutes later, McAughey raced down Arthurlie’s right hand-side, with the winger waltzing himself into the box. After cutting onto his favoured left-foot, his effort was again saved well by McLellan, this time able to beat the ball away to safety. The visitors were knocking on the door for a second.

Said door would be kicked in with force a minute later. After a quick free-kick, agile substitute Aaron Healy nipped his way into the box and produced a goalward curling effort. Another McLellan save only found the feet of Michael MacNeil, who smashed the rebound into the roof of the net. A much deserved second for the visitors, with more to come.

Arthurlie turned relentless. A defensive mishap gave plenty of time and space for Dale Simeon who crossed an inch-perfect ball to the far post. A diving effort from MacNeil was met expertly, with the midfielder scoring his second goal in a matter of minutes. Rutherglen looked deflated and beaten, and with no substitutes on the bench, it was looking to be a long night for the hosts.

MacNeil could have had his hattrick soon after. More good work from Healy on the left saw him dribble past a couple of players before crossing into the box. MacNeil’s header went just over, much to the frustration of the midfielder.

More sloppy play from the hosts resulted in Arthurlie’s fourth. With the ball lost in the middle of the park, the ball found its way to McAughey on the right. With the goal at his mercy, he unselfishly played the ball to Healy, who comfortably slotted away to a huge roar from the travelling faithful. A much-deserved goal for a player who had been immense for the visitors since coming on.

The fifth would arrive ten minutes from time. More good work by McAughey, followed by an impressive overlap from Alan Dunsmore, saw the visitors advance down the park with ease. The latters’ cross found Zeb in the middle who tapped in. Cruise control.

Rutherglen felt they could (and probably should) have had a penalty. A blatant push in the back from a free kick was unawarded, which in the end, probably sums up the host’s night.

Full Time: Rutherglen Glencairn 0-5 Arthurlie

On the face of it, a team from the division below coming to your home ground and smashing five past you is a bad look.  I would argue however, that the league system is still in its infancy. Teams are still trying to find their own place in the pyramid, with results like this happening naturally. Furthermore, Rutherglen had no named substitutes and it showed in the second half. I would argue the first half was highly competitive, with the hosts having a couple of great opportunities to take the lead. They will feel disappointed with this result, but should no means take it to heart. With a huge month ahead, there’s no reason they cannot regroup and fight for Premier Division survival.

Arthurlie’s second half performance was immense. From back to front, the whole team operated as a smooth, cognitive machine. Although the front line will take most of the credit, there are a couple of individual performances that may have slipped under the radar. Firstly, Lance Pearce did not put a foot wrong all game. Operating as part of a back three, he controlled the intensity in the build up play and was integral to a defence that held their own against two powerful forward men. He looks a natural leader, and certainly played like one. Secondly, midfielder Jordan Leydon was a thorn in the Rutherglen side the entire game. With a workhorse-like attitude and the technical ability to match, he run amok in the centre and put in the groundwork for his forward line to flourish. He was fantastic, and I suspect he’ll draw some attention when Arthurlie are inevitably promoted.

Overall, I was thoroughly entertained by this match on a drizzly Wednesday night. Lower league cup action always brings excitement, drama, and big moments – this one was no different. Some great goals, tidy performances and gripping battles were on show, and I loved every second. 4/5.

Pricing

Like any game at this level, pricing is unmatched. £7 entry with cheap food and drink. It’s the best value for money in the country. 5/5.

Final Score

Rutherglen Glencairn finish with a score of 15/20 and shoot up into the higher reaches of the TSFA League Table. Despite the disappointing result on the pitch, I enjoyed the atmosphere and facilities greatly and feel it is a terrific place to watch football. I look forward to returning in the future when – hopefully – the team have a few subs!

– Connor

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