After a gruelling pre season schedule, Bellshill arrived at James McGrory Park for the first competitive game of the season, with last seasons 10-2 reverse, still fresh in the St Roch’s minds.
The home side gave debuts to 3 players in John Paul Stark, Jason McCormick and Kenny Jarvis, whilst T.J. McCluskey made his return to St Roch’s and Darren Simpson was named on the bench for each players second spell at the club.
So the starting line up was Stark in nets, with McCormick flanked in defence by Mark Mathieson and captain James McKnight. The midfield was made up of Jarvis, Robert Maguire and Marc McDonnell, with Darryl Naismith and Jordan Logan out wide, as McCluskey and Baboucarr Musa complete the team up top.
Stephen Bryson, Simpson, Brian Haynes, Brian Henderson, Liam Martin and Liam McMahon all started on the bench.
Straight from kick off, you could see the step up in fitness from the opposition as they pressed and harried St Roch’s straight away. However, the Candy weren’t to be over awed by their Super first opponents and quickly got themselves into the game, and soon had taken the lead.With only 11 minutes on the clock, a darting run by Logan, saw his quick feet too much for the defender who caught the Roch player on the edge of the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Maguire cooly stepped up and placed the ball, low to the keepers right for the first goal of the day, despite him guessing correctly.
Bellshill proved their worth by reacting in the most positive way and it took an outstanding save by Stark to keep the teams on parity. Cutting in from their left, a nice passage of football between 3 Bellshill players left the striker to smash in, but the keeper judged correctly and acrobatically saved an pushed the ball wide.
The game was now end to end, an Musa would probably be disappointed not to grab the next goal, good movement from him and McCluskey, released the Gambian in on the keeper, but his low shot was well saved and cleared.
On the 25th minute mark, Bellshill once again tested the St Roch’s defence, but a snap shot from the number 9, flashed up and wide past the keepers right hand post, with Stark seemingly beaten.
There was a goal coming and it came from Bellshill and what a cracker it was. Again cutting in from the left hand side, the 1-2 took the number 10 away from the defence and smashed and unstoppable 35 yard shot up and over Start, into his left hand postage stamp. Smashing goal..
Despite starting the better, the visitors had the keeper and then the bar to thank, for keeping scores even with only 2 minutes back on the clock after the break. Naismiths run into the box from the right ended with a low drive, which was palmed out by the keeper, letting Musa to pick up on the left hand of the box. His nice touches, made space and his curling effort rebounded clear.
Bellshill were soon after, enjoying their best spell of the match as the Roch defence were seemingly struggling with the varied attacks of the Bellshill side. However, in Stark, they were finding a keeper very much in form as he kept the sides level on a few occasions.
The defining moment in the match came on the 75 minute. A Maguire quick ball to Musa on the right hand side of the pitch, was matched by a lovely ball to McCluskey in the Bellshill box. The forwards turn and run, committed the defender and keeper allowing his square ball to Naismith to be smashed in for the lead.
Bellshill pushed for the remainder, and once again found Stark in fine form, with another outstanding late save to keep Roch in the lead.
As the game played out, McCluskey missed a couple of half chances on the counter to kill the game, but ultimately the home side held out for the points.
Summary : A great win, a great team display against a very good Bellshill team.
Man of the Match : John Paul Stark
|August 8, 2015||2:00 pm||League Cup Group 3||2015-2016|