The final game of the Sectional Leauge Cup was played out between Carluke Rovers and Newmains Utd. at the John Cumming Stadium with all that was at stake was pride. Neither Club could qualify for the next round due to recent defeats earlier in the week so both Managers saw this as an opportunity to give game time and match fitness to those who had missed the last tie.
The game was played in front of a good crowd for a Wednesday night and it was Carluke who were to make the initial impact when a Ciaran Lafferty cross from the right was narrowly missed by the head of Mark Cassidy at the back post with the ball going harmlessly out of play.
In the 7th minute it was Mark Cassidy, who was playing in midfield, as opposed to his customary centre half position, who ran with the ball from just inside his own half but tamely shot into the arms of the Newmains Keeper. This was to be a regular occurrence during the game from the marauding Mark Cassidy who appeared to have been unleashed from his defensive duties and given the freedom of Newmains with which to explore!
Although the early opportunities were falling to Carluke, Newmains were playing their part in the first period of the game and in the 17th minute a long free kick was headed past the post from their No 10.
This appeared to spur Carluke into action and the first goal was not long in coming when Ross Mac Neill played a great 30 yard pass down the right to the feet of Ciaran Lafferty who took it in has stride and placed it into the near post to put Carluke one up in the 20th minute.
Newmains had been defending deep at this stage and had been managing to restrict Carluke to only a few chances albeit good ones but after the first goal Carluke took control of proceedings. The next two goals came in quick succession when 2 minutes later a great reverse pass from Sean McKenna on the edge of the box to Mark Cassidy, who had run round him and passed across the six yard line for and easy put away by Ciaran Lafferty for his second.
There were several more chances created but in the interests of copy length it is best to focus on the goals from here on in of which there was only one more before half-time. That came in the 43rd minute. Carluke won a free kick 25 yards from goal and captain Mark Weir took it and buried it low past the keeper’s left hand post to make the halftime score 3-0 to the Rovers.
As a backdrop to the game around 15 minutes before halftime the heavens opened and the rain that fell till the start of the second half was of biblical proportions. Both sets of players played through it manfully until halftime. However as the second half got underway it became clear that the 3-0 deficit and the incessant rain had taken a lot more out of Newmains than Carluke. Fortunately, there was no further rain but unfortunately for Newmains there was to be a deluge, this time of goals, that were to nestle in the bottom of their net as Carluke turned up the heat in the second half.
The first of these came in the 52nd minute when Cassidy again got to the byeline and cut the ball back into the edge of the 6 yard box. The Newmains Keeper was at full stretch and managed to get a hand to it only to deflect into the path of Craig Grierson who slotted it into the empty net to continue his own recent impressive scoring run. 4-0.
In the 64th minute it was that man Cassidy again who ran down the right and shot at a tight angle only for the unfortunate Newmains keeper to fumble it off his chest into the path of the onrushing McKenna who placed it calmly into the goal. 5-0.
A minute later a terrible pass along the ground from the Newmains keeper went straight to Craig Grierson who simply passed the ball back into Jamie Dickson in the clear to power the ball past the hapless Newmains Keeper. This was only Jamie’s second outing for Carluke in over a year due to a long term injury and he performed admirably when coming on for the last half hour.
Although Mark Cassidy had an excellent game throughout he moved up a gear in the last 20 minutes and in the words of the Newmains manager after the game, “destroyed us”. His first goal in the 70th minute he took the ball past 3 Newmains players with power and pace and with only the Keeper left he lashed a left foot shot into the goal. 7-0.
In the 83rd minute the same player this time picked the ball up in his own half and made a carbon copy run through the beleaguered Newmains rearguard with a similar outcome. 8-0.
It was again that man Cassidy who threaded a through ball to Stuart Mitchell who after a couple of efforts earlier managed to get on the scoresheet with a well placed shot into the bottom corner to complete the scoring at 9-0.
On this showing Carluke Rovers are set fair for what could be a great season and for Newmains they will hopefully realise that they will have many closer games than this one in Division 2 and a lot of credit goes to their manager, Paul Davies and his backroom staff who may not have currently the best team on the park but they are building an infrastructure which will stand the club in good stead in the seasons to come.
Match Report by Stevie Kane
Photography by Kevin Ramage