Following Carluke’s penalty shoot out victory against Lanark on Saturday they had an opportunity to leapfrog Lesmahagow who had beaten Newmains in the same sectional League Cup at Craighead Park. The grass on the pitch had been allowed to grow to a length that was to have a bearing on any free flowing passing football due to it’s length but this didn’t stop Carluke getting off to a fast start.
Playing down the slope in the first half it was Carluke who were to show first when neat footwork by Craig Grierson took him past three Lesmahagow players opening up the opportunity for a shot which was well saved by the Lesmahagow keeper, Owen McCallum.
Similarly in the 7th minute it was Lesmahagow’s Ryan Connelly who skipped past 3 Rovers players but fortunately for Carluke his resultant shot went past the post with Adam Brown at full stretch.
The first booking of what was to be a towsy affair was meted out to Maxime Neossi of Carluke who lost possession in the centre of the park and in his attempt to recover the ball ended up pulling his man down to receive a soft booking.
In general it was Carluke who had the edge in the first half but in the 20th minute, and against the run of play, it was Lesmahagow who were to open the scoring. As happened on a few occasions on the unruly surface Carluke lost possession of the ball outside their own box and it was fed wide to Kyle Weir who whipped in a ball to the back post where the unmarked Ryan Connelly was on hand to coolly loop his header over Adam Brown in the Carluke goal. 1-0 Gow.
For the next 10 minutes Rovers continued to press in an attempt to find a way through a resolute Lesmahagow defence and in the 30th minute, after a period of sustained possession, Carluke created three chances in quick succession in what only can be described as a melee in front of the Lesmahagow goal. First an effort by Stuart Mitchell was cleared off the line only to find it’s way to Craig Grierson who rounded one man and fired in a shot which was parried by the Gow Keeper to the feet of Paul Donaghy but he was also unable to breach the Gow goal as his shot was blocked in a crowded six yard box.
In the 36th minute it was the same Paul Donaghy who was adjudged to have kicked the ball away by the referee to earn a booking but in reality all that he did was kick the ball onto the terracing in front of him with the ball returning to his feet! This booking was to come back to haunt him and Carluke later in the match and wasn’t the first time the Referee was to attract the ire of the travelling Carluke support.
In terms of open play Carluke had the better of the first half but it was their lack of luck in front of goal and a couple of costly mistakes in defence that was to prove their undoing as in the 41st minute when a Carluke defender was beaten out at the corner flag. This allowed the Lesmahagow striker to run along the byline unchallenged and pass the ball into Gow striker Jarvie who purposely deflected the ball into the goal from close range.
In the second half it was always going to be difficult for Carluke playing up the slope and already 2-0 down but they set about trying to recover the deficit when as early as the 46th minute Mark Weir fizzed a half volley which flew just over the Gow bar. However it was to be one of very few clear cut chances for either side in the second half as Lesmahagow looked content to protect their 2-0 lead and hit Carluke on the break.
In the 71st minute Carluke made their first substitution to freshen things up bringing on Sean McKenna for Ross MacNeill and he brought a bit more poise to the centre of the park making some nice passes and linking up the play. In the 73rd minute he threaded a pass to Peter Byrne who cut in from the left hand side an unleashed a drive which the Gow Keeper managed to tip over the bar.
As the game wore on it became more bad tempered with some late tackles and off the ball incidents culminating in a late challenge by Carluke striker Paul Donaghy on the Lesmahagow left back in the 77th minute which earned him a second yellow and effectively ended the game as a contest. This was the third game out of the last four where Carluke have finished with ten men and could prove costly if this indiscipline continues when the league campaign starts this Saturday.
The game itself petered out with a 2-0 victory for Lesmahagow and puts them on a collision course with Lanark United in a winner takes all final fixture but for Carluke their opportunity for progressing in this season’s sectional League Cup is over and the game against Newmains on Wednesday at the John Cumming stadium with a 7pm kickoff will be a final opportunity for the management team to further hone their team for the long season ahead with nothing at stake other than pride.
Match Report by Stevie KanePhotography by Kevin Ramage