Due to issues with their park in Forth, which made it unplayable, the Wanderers decided to give up home advantage and play their game against Carluke Rovers at the John Cumming Stadium in this West of Scotland league game.
The game kicked off with Forth playing with the advantage of a slight breeze but it was Carluke who started the stronger controlling the game in the midfield with the defence coping well with any Forth advances into their box. However in the 10th minute Rovers defender Neossi headed the ball against his centre half partner Dominik Chiedu with the ball breaking to the Forth Number 9 whose resultant snap volley went aimlessly over the Carluke bar.
Carluke were to get the breakthrough their early control deserved when last week’s hattrick hero Eddie Haley ran onto a ball just inside the Forth box. He was challenged by a Forth a defender who stumbled and on falling inadvertently handled the ball resulting in the Referee pointing to the spot for a penalty. The spot kick was comfortably dispatched into the keepers’ bottom right corner by Haley who continued his good running of scoring. 1-0 to Carluke after 16 minutes.
Carluke continued to press and in the 19th minute a run by full back Jordan Lithgow was cynically cut short by the Forth centre half resulting in a booking for the player and a free kick for Carluke 30 yards out on the right hand side. The free kick was floated into the box and the resultant scramble saw the ball cleared off the line by the Forth defence.
Forth were still very much in the game and a speculative cross from the right wing cannoned of the stanchion between post and crossbar going out for a goal kick. However Carluke continued to press and a good run by James Frame saw him cut the ball back from the byeline but unfortunately it was slightly behind Eddie Haley who couldn’t quite wrap his foot around the ball to get any real power and it was easily collected by the Forth keeper.
For all of Carluke’s possession they hadn’t created too many goal scoring opportunities and Forth were always well in the game creating some half chances for themselves. However it was an unfortunate mistake in the Carluke defence which drew Forth level in the 33rd minute. A cross was fired in from the left wing in an attempt to volley the ball clear Carluke defender Dominik Chiedu let it hit off his shin and the ball ballooned over Keeper Josh Kane’s head in the Carluke goal to make the scoreline 1-1.
This equaliser gave Forth belief and they started to press Carluke more all over the pitch. It was however Carluke who created the last chance of the first half when a ball played wide found James Miller and he cut inside from the left wing only to see his powerful shot hit directly at the keeper who coped with it.
The second half got underway with for the most part both teams cancelling each other out. The first incident of note was when Dillon Duddy of Carluke appeared to be barged to the ground in the box in the 58th minute with his back to goal and the ball at his feet. It looked like a clear penalty but the Referee adjudged it to be a dive and subsequently booked the unfortunate Duddy much to the surprise of everyone in attendance.
Then in the 64th minute Forth took the lead when a cross from the left was picked up by their Number 10 and his shot was deflected over the head of Carluke keeper Kane, giving him no chance, and making the score 2-1 to Forth. This spurred Forth on and the created another couple of chances but fortunately for Carluke Keeper Josh Kane was upto the task when firstly ushering the Forth player over the byeline when he was through one on one and then a good parried save from the Forth number 11 from just outside the box.
At this point in the game it did not look that there was a way back for Carluke but in the 83rd minute they got a fortuitous equaliser. A long throw level with the 18 yard box from Dom Chiedu was headed into his own net by the Forth number 19 much to the relief of the Carluke team and bench. This made the score 2-2 and set up a frenetic finish.
However in the end Carluke were forced to hang on following two unfortunate sending offs. Firstly Keeper Josh Kane did well to come out of his box to meet the onrushing Forth Number 9. He closed the striker down and forced him to hit the ball off his chest with his arms pinned to his side. Amazingly the Referee brandished the red card for handling outside the box and left Carluke with a dilemma for the last 5 minutes. They couldn’t bring on substitute keeper Jordan Simpson as all three subs had been used and so sweeper Maxi Neossi went in goal for the last 5 minutes.
Carluke case was further hampered when 2 minutes later Dillon Duddy, previously booked, was given a second yellow for comments supposedly made to the Referee. Carluke were now down to 9 men in what had been a very clean game between both teams, with their backs to the wall for the last couple of minutes.
With the 2 man advantage it was no surprise when Forth created the last chance of the match and a clear cut one it was too. The ball was crossed into their hardworking Number 9 and he rose unchallenged but his header went wide of the Carluke post when it was easier to score much to the relief of the Carluke team.
Shortly afterwards the Referee blew the final whistle at 2-2 which over the course of 90 minutes was probably a fair result for both teams.Match Report by Stevie Kane
Photography by Kevin Ramage