Saturday 25 February 2017, 14.30, John Cumming Stadium

Scottish Junior Cup Fifth Round Replay between Carluke Rovers and Gartcairn Football Academy Juniors.

Carluke Rovers were formed in 1887 and currently compete in the Central District Second Division in the West Region of the Scottish Junior Football Association.

They began life as Carluke Milton Rovers but dropped the ‘Milton’ from their name after the First World War.  They started at Whitehill Park before moving to The Klondyke, Sandyford, Crawforddyke and then Loch Park, where they stayed from 1919 until 2011 when they moved into the newly built John Cumming Stadium.

The existing stadium is named after the former Rovers player who went on to become the most decorated player in the history of Heart of Midlothian after he moved there in 1948 and played 612 times for the Jam Tarts.  The Stadium has a 4G pitch and 8 lane running track and was also used by the Hamilton Accies Women’s team until they moved to the home of the men’s team.

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Carluke have spent the early years playing in the Lanarkshire Junior League, where they stayed until 1968 (with a few gaps, including playing in the Lanark and Lothian League during the Second World War).  They entered the Central Region League in ’68 and made it their home until 2002, when league reconstruction made them become members of the West Region Leagues.

During their spell in the Lanarkshire League, they won the title on three occasions and have also won the Lanarkshire Junior Cup eight times and the Hozier Cup nine times.  They were promoted from the Central League Division B in 1972 after winning the title and also won the Central Division 2 in 2012, in their first season in their new home.  Relegation from Division 1 last season has seen them back in Division 2 again this season.

They have reached the semi-finals of the Junior Cup five times, but have lost on each occasion.

Gartcairn Football Academy Juniors, commonly referred to as Gartcairn Juniors, are also competing in the Central District Second Division in the West Region of the Scottish Junior Football Association.

The Gartcairn Football Academy was founded in 2007 with two teams at under-8 and under-10 level.  Since then, the club has grown to involve 700 players and 60 coaches with teams from the youngest age groups up to an adult amateur side.

Gartcairn applied for membership of the Scottish Junior Football Association in 2015, bringing Junior Football back to Airdrie for the first time since the 1930s.

The Academy opened their own facility in January 2014 but the Junior side initially had to play at the Coatbridge Outdoor Sports Centre due to certain ground criteria not being met.  They began using their own ground in January 2016 after the necessary alterations were made.

They have yet to win any honours in their short history in the Juniors, but they did manage to coax former Hibernian player Tam McManus out of retirement for their debut Junior season.

The sides had already met four times this season, and the fifth saw them fight for a Junior Cup Quarter Final place.  Gartcairn won the first two games, 2-1 in the league cup, followed by a 6-1 league win. Carluke won 3-2 in the league just before the first Junior Cup tie between the teams which finished in a two all draw.  This will be the teams’ third game in a row against each other.

The 2-2 game saw John Henderson sent off for Gartcairn in 28 minutes.  Carluke went 2-1 up but gave away a penalty almost immediately before their own John Renwick was sent off.

Rovers are on a ten-match unbeaten run while Gartcairn have lost six of their last seven league games.  Rovers are currently fourth with several games in hand on the teams above them while Gartcairn are two places further back in the 12-team league.

Carluke entered the Junior Cup in the second round and have knocked out Deveronside, Irvine Victoria and Irvine Meadow.  Gartcairn (also starting in round 2) have despatched Newmacher United, Whitburn and Hermes.

It’s not a common occurrence for sides from the Central District Second Division to reach the 5th round of the Junior Cup, but this match up gave one of the teams the chance to really mix it with the big boys in the last eight.

Gartcairn laid on a free bus for supporters travelling from Airdrie.

Renwick was missing through suspension for Rovers after his sending off the previous week.  Haddow and Weir both passed fitness tests.  Seventeen-year-old Alberto Vezza on loan from Stirling Albion was also in the team.

Gartcairn were without Henderson after his red card and Lee McShane who was sent off from the bench in the same game.

It was a first visit to the John Cumming Stadium, which is up the hill next to Carluke Leisure Centre.  The number of cars and lack of parking spaces suggested there would be a decent crowd.  The ground itself has a small stand at the half way line on one side of the pitch and a barrier round the pitch itself.  Modern toilets and a hatch serving food is also there.  It still all looks very new and the plastic pitch avoided the postponements which once again decimated the Junior card in Scotland.

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There were an impressive 412 at the game.

In 3 minutes, Pettigrew won the ball for Gartcairn from Biggart on the half way line and played the ball to Love.  His powerful shot from the left was just too high.

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McCole made a good run forward for Rovers a minute later, bursting forward from his own half, but with Weir free on the left, he overhit his pass.

Vezza made a promising run up the right for Rovers in 6 minutes but was eventually crowded out in the Cairn box by McAvoy and Ross.

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A ball over the top of the Cairn defence in 8 minutes saw Watt running through on goal.  With Canning desperately trying to catch up, Watt struck a low shot just wide of the post.

A good tackle by Canning on Gow in 11 minutes halted the progress of the Carluke left back on the edge of the box, but the ball rolled back to Haddow, whose first time effort from 25 yards wasn’t too far off target.

Gartcairn came forward in 13 minutes and Tait’s cross from the right found Love in the box, but it came to him at a difficult height and his attempt to control the ball saw it run through to Tobin in the home goal.

Rovers broke quickly in 15 minutes gone and Vezza played the ball wide right to Watt, but his attempted cross was headed behind by Ross.  Weir’s corner was met well by the head of Biggart, but it was off target.

Weir played the ball to McCole on the left as Rovers attacked in 19 minutes.  He cut the ball back to Vezza who attempted a volley inside the box, but he sclaffed it wide.

It was straight back up the other end and Tait passed to Carmichael on the right hand side of the box, but Tobin managed to turn his shot behind.  The resultant corner was taken by Marshall and found the head of Ross who nodded past the keeper from close range to give the visitors the lead.

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A powerful drive from distance by Carluke’s McCole in 23 minutes was parried by Nugent, and Watt raced in for the rebound, but somehow managed to put the ball wide of the post.  He would have been relieved to see he was flagged offside.

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There was another chance for Carluke in 26 minutes when Haddow played the ball through to Watt.  With Gartcairn claiming offside Nugent was out quickly and managed to smother the ball at the striker’s feet.

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Weir took a Carluke corner in 28 minutes and it was met by Watt who saw his effort go just over the line despite the best efforts of McAvoy.  The linesman gave the goal and the teams were level.  It was very close, but looked in from where I was.

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Some kids who were playing on the running track at the side of the pitch twice managed to put their ball on the pitch during the game.  The second time, the ref had a word with the home bench and they were moved away.  Gartcairn’s Marshall and Rovers’ Weir had both taken a leaf out of the Peter Kay “Ave it” advert to despatch the balls which came on.

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Carmichael chipped the ball through for Pettigrew inside the Rovers box in 32 minutes, but Tobin managed to get a touch before it was cleared.

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In the next minute, Carmichael won the ball for Gartcairn from Lowdon on the edge of the Carluke box, but curled his shot just wide.

With 34 minutes gone, Marshall played a dangerous ball across the face of the Rovers goal after good work by Tait, but there were no takers in the middle.

Vezza had an almost identical cross into the Gartcairn box in 37 minutes, but again, no team mate was there to finish.

In 39 minutes, a ball played back into the Carluke box after a corner had been cleared saw Tait head for goal, but Tobin acrobatically turned the ball over the bar.  The next corner was again cleared, but a shot came in from Brady on the Rovers goal which Tobin could only parry and Tait raced in to shoot high into the net to put Gartcairn back in front.

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I had almost missed the goal due to still being in shock at there being no pies left before half time.

Weir had a shot at the Gartcairn goal in 44 minutes after receiving a short free kick from Biggart.  Nugent got down to save and gathered the ball at the second attempt.

An interesting first half which had been pretty much end to end from kick off.

Tait received the ball on the right for Gartcairn in 47 minutes from O’Donnell and crossed into the box.  Gow got his head to it and watched in horror as the ball looped over his own keeper’s head and into the net to make it 3-1 to Gartcairn.

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Gow picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon in 48 minutes with a late tackle on Gartcairn’s Carmichael.  It wasn’t looking like his afternoon.

A great run by Vezza in the Gartcairn box in 51 minutes saw him go past two defenders then create space for a shot, but it was deflected over by the heel of Canning.  The corner saw an almighty stramash in the Gartcairn box, but the defence eventually cleared.

Carmichael became the first away player booked in 52 minutes, for dissent.

Watt and Haddow exchanged passes in 54 minutes before picking out Vezza at the back post.  His cutback saw a shot from McCole blocked before Haddow hammered at goal from around 20 yards, only to see Ross get a head to the ball to turn it over the bar.

Gartcairn broke forward in 57 minutes and Carmichael’s cross was deflected right into the path of Tait in the box, but Tobin managed to block.

On the hour mark, Rovers’ Watt was booked for dissent.

A Rovers corner in 61 minutes was played back by Watt to Weir on the edge of the box, but he fired over the bar.

O’Donnell was next to go in the book for taking out Vezza on the half way line in 64 minutes as Rovers attacked.

In 66 minutes, McCole found Fernie on the left of the Gartcairn box, but he hammered his shot too high.

Moore managed to cut the ball back from the by-line in 67 minutes to Tait to give him a sight of the Rovers goal, but with Tobin out of his goal, Biggart managed to block his shot.

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Rovers Weir and Cairns’ were the next players yellow carded for pushing each other in 68 minutes.

With 74 minutes gone, Vezza picked up a loose ball om the edge of the Gartcairn box, created some space and curled it into the top corner to reduce the deficit and give Rovers some hope.

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Rovers’ McDougall was booked in 76 minutes for bringing down Moore.

As one of the Gartcairn players committed a foul deep in the Rovers half in 83 minutes, Nugent said, pretty much to himself “why the fuck is he giving away a free kick there?”

A Gartcairn free kick in 88 minutes saw Marshall pick out Tait at the back post in the Rovers box, but his downward header went wide.

Ross was booked in the last minute for jumping into the back of Brady.

The full time whistle was met with jubilant Gartcairn players and supporters celebrating reaching the quarter finals.

An entertaining game which really could have gone either way.  There wasn’t much between the teams and there was a plethora of chances for both sides.

On loan Stirling Albion player Vezza was impressive for Carluke and was reminiscent of Roddy MacLennan, the current Bo’ness United and former Linlithgow Rose player.  McCole and Haddow also put in a good shift in the home side’s midfield.

For Gartcairn, Marshall looked a good player and Ross was solid at the heart of the defence.  Love also looked a real handful up front.

Gartcairn won’t have long to wait to see who they play in the quarter final, with them undoubtedly being classed as the underdogs whoever they get.  They are a decent side though and have some good players and a good spirit, so may not be the soft touch that many would expect.

For Carluke, it’s back to focussing on promotion, which was their objective at the start of the season.

Neither team responded to tweets asking for their team line-ups, so apologies to any players not listed correctly.

Full Time: Carluke Rovers 2 Gartcairn Juniors 3

Admission: £5

Carluke Rovers: 1 Danny Tobin, 2 Jonathan Wilson, 3 Gary Gow (McDougall 58), 4 Samuel Biggart, 5 Reece Lowdon, 6 Chick McCole, 7 Alberto Vezza, 8 Mark Haddow, 9 Ian Watt, 10 Greg Fernie, 11 Mark Weir (Lynn 81). Subs: 12 Lewis McDougall, 14 Peter Lynn, 15 Stuart Mitchell, 17 Craig Stark, Gordon Bruce.

Gartcairn FA Juniors: 19 Anton Nugent, 2 Callum Brady, 3 Robert McAvoy, 4 Barry Canning, 5 Kevin Ross, 6 Ryan O’Donnell, 7 Colin Marshall, 8 Lee Pettigrew (Moore 62), 9 Jordan Love, 10 Mark Tait, 11 Gary Carmichael. Subs: 12 Willie Eadie, 14 Ally Morgan, 15 Josh Moore, 16 Luke Tuite, 17 Craig Wright.

Referee: Peter Stuart

Programme: None.

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