Glasgow Perthshire 2 Forth Wanderers 2
Both Forth and Glasgow Perthshire seemed intent on registering an opening day league victory, which made for a hugely entertaining game at Keppoch Park yesterday. The Wanderers had new signings Lachlan Tait and Craig Gupwell in their defence with Andy Finnigan in goal.
The Wanderers were first to show, Willie McClaren flashing a shot across goal with barely two minutes on the clock, while a minute later Forth keeper Andy Finnigan had to look lively to keep out a decent effort from JP Craig. Alan Christie was then sent clear after 9 minutes but a defender managed to deflect his shot away for a corner. Forth came even closer two minutes later when a 25 yard Willie McClaren free kick rattled off the post with home keeper Stephen Mather beaten.
The hosts passed up a great chance to go ahead on 15 minutes, when, after good work down the right, the ball was played in to the dangerous Craig but the Shire hitman lashed the ball wildly over. Finnigan, whose handling was excellent all afternoon, then saved well from Ross Cameron as the Shire pressed, whilst at the other end some fine solo play from McClaren saw Mather beat the ball out to John Watson, who could only direct his effort wide. Great play from Kris Dick then setup McClaren again but his effort was directed over his own bar by a Shire defender.
A goal looked to be coming and it duly arrived on 35 minutes when the Wanderers went in front. A chipped McClaren free kick eluded the Shire defence and Kris Dick reached the ball before Mather, only to see his effort rebound from the post. Fortunately for Forth, Craig Gupwell followed up to prod the ball home. The Wanderers were only ahead for two minutes however and the equaliser again came from a free kick. A floated free kick into the Forth box seemed to deflect off the shoulder of John Watson and although Finnigan got down well to claw the ball away, Craig was on hand to stab home.
The Wanderers were not disheartened however and regained the lead a mere two minutes later. A surging run from John Rennie saw him put Willie McClaren clear and the Forth striker finished with aplomb to give the Wanderers a deserved 2-1 interval lead.
The hosts came out with all guns blazing in the second half and Finnigan did well to save from Craig just after the restart although it was the Wanderers who came close to extending their lead after 50 minutes. John Rennie powered down the left and put in a dangerous cross which a Shire defender deflected on to his own bar before the ball was cleared. Mather then turned a Christie shot away for a corner before the Forth striker found himself one on one with the home keeper. Unfortunately for the travelling support, he was forced wide and the chance was lost.
Perthshire began to increase the pressure as the game entered it’s final quarter, but a combination of poor shooting and resolute Forth defending kept the score at 2-1 until the 75th minute when Perthshire were awarded a contentious penalty. Lachlan Tait appeared to have affected a perfect defensive tackle, only to be visibly shocked when a penalty was awarded instead despite few appeals. After the furore had died down, David Kirkwood stepped up and sent Finnigan the wrong way from the spot.
The game now swung from end to end with both teams looking for an elusive winner and the referee enraged the Shire players with a couple of dubious offside calls, but no clear cut chances were created and the game ended in a draw.
Forth can take a lot of positives from their performance and now look forward to the visit of Vale of Leven to Kingshill on Saturday.
Forth team: Finnigan,L.Tait,Ward,Gupwell,McMullen(S.Tait),J.Dick(Scott),A.Christie,Watson,
Rennie,K.Dick,McClaren Unused subs: Howson,Tippen,S.Christie