Forth 4 Carluke 3
The Wanderers edged out Carluke in a seven goal thriller in the Clydesdale Cup at Kingshill Park last night and will now face Lesmahagow in the final at home on Monday night.
It was Carluke who started the stronger and they could have been ahead in the first couple of minutes but Mark Haddow headed a free kick from Mark Weir wide from a good position. The visitors continued to press and forced a couple of corners as they sought to make their pressure count, but the Forth defence stood firm. The Wanderers gradually began to play their way into the game but Carluke were allowing them no time on the ball, with two or three men immediately pressurising the player in possession and as a result chances were hard to come by. One did arrive on 24 minutes when Jim Dick met a corner from Chris McGroarty at the back post but he headed narrowly wide.
Chances continued to be few and far between as the half wore on, with Forth now giving as good as they got, but it was the visitors who edged in front five minutes from the break. Ryan Smillie latched on to a head flick to get in behind the Forth defence and he neatly lobbed the advancing Ali McGhee to put Carluke ahead. The Wanderers almost equalised on the stroke of half time when Jamie Lindsay picked up an Andrew Gilchrist cross which had been partially cleared and fired towards goal , the ball being deflected just behind Chris McGroarty whose clever backheel was cleared off the line by a defender. Thus ended a tight 45 minutes which gave no inkling of the drama to come.
Forth began the second half positively, taking the game to Carluke, and were rewarded on 59 minutes when Chris Lennon equalised. Barry Canning won a header in the centre of the pitch allowing Lennon to pick up the ball and run towards goal before unleashing an unstoppable shot past the helpless Stewart Thomson in the Carluke goal. The Wanderers came close again 4 minutes later but a wicked Andrew Gilchrist free kick found no takers in the box.
Lennon’s pace was causing the visiting defence all sorts of problems and on 71 minutes he outpaced Craig Stark only to be bundled over in the box by the covering Marc Napier. Jamie Lindsay dispatched the resultant penalty with the minimum of fuss. Worse was to follow for the visitors three minutes later when Andrew Gilchrist made it 3-1. There seemed to be little danger when he found himself with the ball in the box surrounded by several Carluke defenders,but he twisted and turned to create an opening before coolly slotting the ball into the net.
Carluke were far from out of it though and reduced the deficit on 81 minutes when Craig Stark headed home a corner from close range. It then took a great last ditch tackle from Jason Corbett to prevent Smillie from running clear on goal. Forth refused to buckle though and restored their two goal advantage on 86 minutes. Corbett embarked on a powerful run down the right before finding the unmarked Dean McLean with a pinpoint cross and McLean had time to steady himself before drilling the ball under Thomson and into the net.
That should have been that, but Carluke had other ideas and pulled a goal back two minutes later. Again, it was that man Stark popping up to head home a free kick,although the Wanderers defence will be disappointed with the space he was given. A nervy final few minutes ensued, with Forth surviving another couple of Carluke free kicks fired into the box to hold out for a deserved victory.
Forth team : McGhee,Corbett,Harty,Grant,Trialist (J.Dick),K.Dick,B.Canning(D.McLean),McGroarty,