Sunday 9 July 2017, 15.00, Kingshill Park

More pre-season action, this time to see Forth Wanderers against Real Kashmir.

A first ever visit to the home of Forth Wanderers, based in the village of Forth in South Lanarkshire.

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They play their football in the West Region of the Scottish Junior Football Association and currently ply their trade in the Central District First Division.

Formed in 1904, they have been at their Kingshill Park home since 1934, although they have twice had to decant when it became unusable.  It’s very much an old school ground, with a few obvious more recent additions, like the small covered area, which stands alone on one half of the pitch.  I imagine it gets very busy in there  when the weather is bad.  The pitch didn’t look in the greatest of condition which doesn’t bode well for the Scottish winter (or summer, autumn or spring for that matter).  There is also a structure selling food and drink, which is named “The Pie and Bovril Lounge”.

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They spent most of their history in the Lanarkshire Leagues and the Lanarkshire Hozier Cup was their first trophy in 1914.  They won the Lanarkshire League in 1966 and have also bagged the Lanarkshire Junior Cup and League Cups.  They reached the Scottish Junior Cup semi-final in season 1980-81 and that is the furthest they have gone.  A Central League Cup win in 1984-85 had been their last silverware until they lifted the Central District Second Division title in 2015-16.  Last season saw them manage to avoid relegation, although it was touch and go for a while.

Their most famous son is Rangers legend Willie Waddell who came from the village and played for the team in his early years.

After seeing Real Kashmir at Stenhousemuir the day before, we were interested to see how they would fare against a Central Division side, and hoped it would be more evenly matched than the day before.

Real were once again resplendent in top of the range looking kit and were wearing a different strip to the one they wore on the Saturday.

Both sides had played friendlies the day before, with Forth drawing 1-1 at AFC Red Star.

There were around 130 in attendance.

Mohammad Hammad took an early knock and required treatment in the third minute, but was ok to continue.

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A chip to the back post by McLaren in 6 minutes found two Forth players unmarked at the back post and Rennie stepped forward to sweep the ball into the net, but the flag was up for offside.

A pass through the middle of the Real defence in 8 minutes by McGeechan found McLaren through on goal, but Safiz Riyaz was quickly out of his box to block, then got up to stop Rennie’s effort with his chest.

In 9 minutes, McLaren put a good ball into the Real box and Rennie slid in to send the ball low into the corner of the net on the volley.  The keeper got his fingertips to it, but couldn’t keep it out.

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It had been a strong start from the home side and the men from Kashmir must have been having flashbacks to Stenhousemuir at this stage.

Hanan Mir received the ball into his feet on the edge of the Forth box in 13 minutes after Mohammad Hammad had played a free kick from the half way line forward.  He controlled it and then rolled it into the path of Ishafq Ahmad who struck a well hit shot high into the net for the equaliser.  It was easy to see the delight of the players and officials at their first goal in Scotland.

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Three minutes later and Aqib Mushtaq saw his shot from the edge of the Forth box deflected into the path of Asrar Rehbar, but his low shot was taken well by Cherrie.

McLaren curled a Forth free kick to the back post in 18 minutes and found Rennie, but he put it wide.

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With 22 minutes gone, Aqib Mushtaq played the ball forward to Asrar Rehbar.  He cut it back for Hanan Mir, but his shot was saved.

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McLaren put a dangerous cross into the Real box in 23 minutes, but a great interception by Mohammad Hammad halted the attack.

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Another ball across goal by McLaren in 24 minutes saw everyone miss it in the middle.  It came to the trialist, but it hit off him and spun wide.

McLaren was everywhere and his through ball in 25 minutes sent the trialist scampering in on goal, but Safiz Riyaz was out quickly to block.

The Real defence was carved open again in 26 minutes and this time it was McLaren himself who was through on goal.  As the keeper came out, he expertly lifted the ball over him and into the net to put Forth back in front.

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A well struck shot by the trialist in 28 minutes from the right didn’t look far wide of the post.

A clever ball by Asrar Rehbar in 29 minutes sent Ishafq Ahmad through in the Forth box, but a heavy touch allowed Cherrie to come out and smother.

McGeechan had a shot at goal in 34 minutes from the edge of the Real box after being set up by McLaren, but he hammered wide.

With 4 minutes to half time Rennie played the ball inside to Grenfell.  He cut the ball back to trialist, but his low shot produced a great save from Safiz Riyaz.

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Still 2-1 at half time and Forth had the better of the chances and possession and should have been further in front.  Real were certainly in the game though and were far from out of things.

Asrar Rehbar was through for Real in 48 minutes, but Cherrie came out to smother at his feet.

In 49 minutes, Aqib Mushtaq showed good close control on the edge of the box, but his low shot was saved by Cherrie.

McLaren won the ball for Forth on the left in 54 minutes and ran into the box, but Musaib Mushtaq made a good save at his feet.

Danish Farooq hit a fine crossfield pass to send Aqib Mushtaq running in from the left in 62 minutes, but Cherrie showed good awareness to come out quickly and block with his feet.

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A Real corner a minute later was taken short to Prem Kumar and he flashed the ball across goal with Hanan Mir inches away from making contact.

McLaren made an incisive run along the Real by-line in 64 minutes, but Mohammad Hammad got a tackle in to send the ball behind.

Cockerill was forced to limp off for Forth in 70 minutes, with the man he had replaced coming back on.  Forth did more of this as the second half developed.

Liyaqat Gul burst down the left for Real in 72 minutes and went past two defenders, but couldn’t pick out a team mate in the middle.

Forth produced a pre-planned free kick in 74 minutes with McLaren passing to the feet of Dick on the edge of the box, who flicked it on to McGeechan, but Musaib Mushtaq was able to turn the ball behind.

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It was clear that Real were coming more into the game as it went on and were seeing more and more of the ball.

McLaren showed good skill to play the ball into the feet of Jarvie in 84 minutes and he turned and shot for goal, but Musaib Mushtaq was well positioned.

Up the other end a minute later and Prem Kumar found some space at the edge of the box, but he shot well over.

In 87 minutes, Prem Kumar chased a through ball and got the break of the ball off Cherrie and stroked the ball into the empty net to tie the score again.

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McLaren went down in the Real box in 88 minutes with two defenders challenging, but the referee wasn’t interested.  It looked a stonewaller, but it would have been harsh on the visitors to deny them a draw.

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Real broke forward in the last minute and Prem Kumar looked to be tripped off the ball by Corbett, but he escaped punishment.

Tippen had a go from distance in injury time, but it was just wide of the Real post.

An entertaining game and great to see Real Kashmir get something from it.  They came more and more into the game as it went on and showed very impressive stamina and desire right to the end.  Forth will rue not putting the game to bed when they were on top and will point to the penalty it looked like they should have had, but I don’t think they would hold too much of a grudge over the result.

McLaren showed some great ability for Forth and looked a very good player.  Rennie worked hard and was rewarded with a goal.  For Real, Aqib Mushtaq showed some good skill and Asrar Rehbar was a threat on the left.

The players from both sides posed for pictures together on the pitch at the final whistle.  There was a good atmosphere in the ground and a very friendly feel to it.  I’ll be heading back to Forth.

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Credit to Real Kashmir who carried themselves very well over the two games I saw them and hopefully they will return in the future.

Full Time: Forth Wanderers 2 Real Kashmir 2

Admission: By donation.

Forth Wanderers: 1 David Cherrie, 2 Stephen Tait (Cockerill 52 (Tait 70)), 4 Jason Corbett, 5 Kieran Brown, 3 Stewart Nicoll, 6 Kris Dick (J Dick 86), 10 Barry McGeechan (Trialist 9 79), 8 John Rennie (Tippen 59), 7 Warren Grenfell (Trialist 52), 11 Wullie McLaren, 9 Trialist (Jarvie 52). Subs: 12 Kris Jarvie, 14 Willie Tippen, 15 Trialist, 16 Andrew Cockerill, 17 Jim Dick.

Real Kashmir: 30 Safiz Riyaz (Musaib Mushtaq 45), 5 Sameer Fayaz, 2 Amir Hussain (Suhail Ahmad 45), 3 Mohammad Hammad, 14 Basalat Javaid, 24 Ubaid Harron, 7 Amer Rehman, 13 Ishafq Ahmad, 24 Ubaid Haroon (Danish Farooq 45), 17 Aqib Mushtaq (Liyaqat Gul 69), 11 Asrar Rehbar (Prem Kumar 56), 22 Hanan Mir. Subs: 31 Shabir Ahmad Sheikh, 4 Suhail Ahmad, 9 Danish Farooq, 15 Liyaqat Gul, 21 Musaib Mushtaq, 25 Prem Kumar.

Referee: Ross Birrell

Programme: £1

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