Carluke welcomed local rivals Lesmahagow Juniors to the John Cumming stadium this Saturday for a West Region Division 1 League game. Lesmahagow came into the game in good form with two victories on the bounce whereas Carluke were looking to get back on track after a disappointing defeat last week to league leaders Shettleston.
The game kicked off in front of a very healthy crowd and was always going to be tight affair given the close proximity of both teams league positions. It was Carluke who were to show first in the 7th minute when striker Ciaran Lafferty was fed the ball on the right and cut inside the defender but his shot was straight at the ‘Gow keeper.
Within a minute of this miss Lesmahagow were awarded a penalty when McDonald, in defence for Carluke firstly failed to control the ball properly and then in trying to recover was short with his passback to the Carluke keeper McAllister. In his attempt to reach the ball first the keeper unfortunately didn’t make it and pulled the Lesmahagow striker down leaving the ref with no option but to point to the spot. Up stepped the experienced Kris Jarvie who coolly sent the Keeper the wrong way making the score 1-0 to Lesmahagow.
This goal was slightly against the run of play as Carluke were starting to take the ascendancy with good link up play between their midfield and the industrious front men who were making good runs behind the ‘Gow defence. It was one such run that saw Ciaran Lafferty latch onto a through ball from winger Ross MacNeill. He was thwarted though when the Lesmahagow keeper, Jordan Brown managed to close the angle and block the shot from close range.
Lesmahagow were being restricted to very few chances and their best opportunities seemed to be from set pieces. It was one such free kick into the box which saw Steven Clark rise unchallenged in the middle of the six yard box but his header went wide much to the relief of the Rovers defence. Unfortunately for Lesmahagow they were to rue this miss a couple of minutes later when Ciaran Lafferty latched onto a through ball from Conor McDonald and passed it into the net just inside the left hand post. 1-1
As the match approached half time Carluke had a further opportunity from a free kick but unfortunately for Conor McDonald, who was more than making up for his earlier mistake, his header was directly at the keeper who held it easily. There was to be no more action in what was a tight first half and with the scoreline at 1-1 it was all to play for in the second half.
That said this was not going to be a game of many goals and Carluke knew they had to keep up the pressure on the Gow defence if they were to get the three points they needed. In the 50th minute Conor McDonald made a good run on the right and hit a shot that was just wide from 20 yards into the side netting. This was followed by nice inter play in the midfield with the ball being fed out to Ross MacNeill on the right who sent in a good cross which was met by Ciaran Lafferty whose header went just wide.
The game turned in Carluke’s favour in the 66th minute when Gary Nicholson of Lesmahagow was red carded for a second bookable offence when he brought down Maxi Neossi in midfield. This was to set up a frenetic last 15 minutes with Carluke pushing hard for the goal that would surely end the contest.
Rovers were now camped in the Gow half and created several chances. The first being a nice flick from Lafferty which was hit on the turn by Paul Donaghy but his shot was deflected over the bar for a corner. This was followed in the 80th minute when Neossi got on the end of a Shaun McKenna free kick but again the header was wide to the relief of the Gow Keeper. A minute later a quick free kick at the corner of the byline and 6 yard box found it’s way to Van Nuil whose shot sailed over the bar.
At this point Lesmahagow were hanging on and the substitutions that Carluke had made were having a positive impact. Dominic McMeekin who had came on for Ross MacNeill got the ball just over the halfway line and went on a mazy run beating two Gow players before seeing his shot well saved by Brown in goal. Two minutes later Paul Donaghy picked up the ball on the left and fed his strike partner Lafferty whose shot hit the outside of the post and went to safety.
Just as it looked as if the 10 men of Lesmahagow were going to survive with a point Carluke got their winner in the 90th minute. Craig Grierson picked the ball up in midfield and threaded a pass through to Dom McMeekin. He drove in to the box and just as it looked as though he had run out of space he managed to cut the ball across the face of the goal where Paul Donaghy was waiting to bundle the ball over the line to make the score 2-1. This goal was met with much relief by both the players and the home support and no more than Carluke’s second half display deserved.
There was to be no more action in the 3 minutes of injury time and Carluke collected the 3 points with a deserved win which enabled them to leapfrog Lesmahagow in the Leauge.
Next week is another difficult derby game for Carluke Rovers away to Lanark United.Match Report by Stevie Kane
Photography by Kevin Ramage