Royal Albert FC vs Carluke Rovers FC

WOSFL - Division Four
Sat 11 May 2024
Score: 1 - 1

Match Report

Carluke made the short trip to Stonehouse today for this end of season West of Scotland league game against Royal Albert. They are a much improved team from the one Carluke beat easily in the reverse fixture earlier in the season and Carluke were expecting a tough test.

The game got underway in very hot conditions and on a pitch that was expectedly bumpy at this time of the season. Rovers also had a threadbare squad for this due to injuries and certain players unavailable.

It was Royal Albert who were to create the first chance in the fourth minute when a throw in from the left wing broke to the Albert No11 but he snatched at the shot and pulled it wide of the post. This was to be a game of very few chances and it took till the 22nd minute for Albert to create another half hance but again No11 managed to pull his shot wide.

The first 15 minutes of the game had been relatively even but Carluke were starting to gain some more traction and were beginning to probe the Albert defence. It was therefore no great surprise when they took the lead in 23 minutes. A bit of confusion in the Albert central defence was pounced on by Jay Blair. He ran through on goal and neatly slipped the ball through the legs of the last defender before calmly slotting the ball past the Albert keeper into the bottom corner for the first goal. 0-1 to Carluke. Unfortunately for Carluke in scoring the goal Blair pulled his hamstring and had to go off injured after trying to run it off. He was replaced by industrious midfielder Mark O’Reilly. He put in a hard working shift but due to the limitations of the squad on the day he was asked to play out of position upfront to replace Jay Blair which he did admirably.

Despite this setback Carluke continued to have more than their fair share of the ball and in the 33rd minute good possession by the team saw the ball finally end up with Darrell Love whose shot from 18 yards whistled just over the bar.

Royal Albert then created the next chance, and their best of the match thus far, when a long ball to the back post was headed back across the Rovers goal where it was met by the head of the Albert No9. Fortunately for Carluke his header was straight at Rovers debutant keeper Stephen Grouchey.

That opportunity apart Carluke were comfortable at this stage with their 1-0 lead. In fact it would be fair to say that neither keeper had been overly troubled in the first half. However 2 minutes before the break the nature of the game was to take a turn and not in a good way for Carluke Rovers.

Grouchey in the Rovers goal attempted a throw out to Grant Mudd at right back. Unfortunately he missed his target and instead hit centre half Barry Fraser on his back as he was running out. The ball landed at the feet of the Royal Albert No9 and as Fraser tried to get back he was forced to tackle him on the edge of the box bringing the player down. The Ref deemed him to be last man and duly sent him off. Fortunately halftime came soon after and this gave Rovers manager Thomas Devine and his staff time to regroup and strategise for the second half.

The second half got underway with Carluke knowing that it was going to be a long 45 minutes with 10 men and their backs against the wall. They were prepared to give Royal Albert possession in their own half and then hit on the break. They were also to rely on the selfless running of Darrell Love up front which he did to his credit in the strength sapping heat.

The game plan was working well and for all their possession Royal Albert were being restricted to speculative shots from distance none of which were to worry Grouchey in the Rovers goal. That nearly changed in the 61st minute when Albert could have snatched an equaliser. A cross from the right was met bet by the stretching foot of their No9 but he couldn’t control it and his effort went sailing over the bar.

As Royal Albert pushed everyone forward in search of an equaliser Carluke were managing to break quickly and one such effort nearly produced a goal as Kieran Mulvaney found himself through on goal. He was forced to shoot early though as the Albert defenders closed him down and it was an easy save for the Albert keeper.

However in 78 minutes, as fatigue was setting in, Rovers conceded a penalty. Unfortunately there wasn’t any real danger but a late tackle just inside the box caught the Albert player and the Ref pointed to the spot. The kick was duly converted and the scores were now level.

This was to be the last of the action in the game and it finished 1-1. Both teams appeared to be happy with the result although Royal Albert may be disappointed, they did not create much against 10 man Carluke. The Rovers for their part can be happy with a great team performance and fighting spirit that got them over the line in very difficult conditions.

Carluke can now look forward to the last game of the season against Newmains away from home this coming Wednesday with a 7:30pm kickoff.

Match Report by Steven Kane


Photography by Kevin Ramage