Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Auchinleck Talbot 3-0 Largs Thistle

Auchinleck Talbot 3-0 Largs Thistle
West Of Scotland Football League (Premier Division)
Wednesday 25th January 2023

So after a trip to the San Siro just 48 hours previously where Inter Milan were somehow beaten by Empoli, where else to go next than Beechwood Park - the home to Auchinleck Talbot.

And, bizarrely, it cost more to watch this game against Largs Thistle than the €5 (or £4.53 once the exchange rate was factored in) than I paid out in Italy.

Madness!

At this point you’re probably thinking I’m slightly mad anyway for following up the finesse and glamour of Milan with a game in the more humble surroundings of Ayrshire (and if you do think I’m bonkers then you’re probably not wrong) albeit in fairness, it wasn’t planned. Being able to see this game and visit another ground in the process was something of an unexpected bonus because it was meant to be played last Wednesday only for the freezing temperatures to force a postponement - thus it was quickly re-arranged for Burns Night.

With a firm eye on toppling Darvel (shout out to them on their ‘good win’ against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup) at the top of the WOSFL Premier Division, Auchinleck knew they could ill-afford to drop points in this game and despite an early scare and a bit of frustration at times, they ultimately managed to get a decent enough win.

Largs aren’t a bad team; their results at Darvel and Glenafton Athletic already this season prove just that, and after an absorbing first 20 minutes which was decent to watch, the visitors thought they’d opened the scoring when their No.9 latched onto a through ball and finished - only for the linesman to raise his flag for what looked to be the tightest of offside calls. 

Needless to say, the visiting manager was having none of it and words were exchanged the next time the linesman was within ear-shot!

Auchinleck’s No.4 also made two decent interceptions to prevent similarly dangerous piercing through balls leading to an opener - including a brilliant one where he read the danger perfectly, slid in, and came away with the ball. Top defending!

At the other end, the hosts also applied plenty of pressure and having already gone close with a curling shot in the early stages, Ross Taylor (the best player on the pitch) was somehow thwarted just past the half-hour mark when he found space inside the box, executed his shot perfectly, only for Largs ‘keeper Jamie McGowen to pull off a brilliant save and turn the ball over the upright.

Then, shortly before half-time, McGowen was at it again as he this time produced a double save to keep the score goalless, before Largs scrambled the ball away to safety.

It’s got to be said that there was a decent quality, good intensity and fast-paced tempo about this game. Sometimes it was ‘long ball’, sometimes it was more fluid and on the ground but, regardless of style, it was certainly entertaining and after half-time Auchinleck cranked up the pressure a bit more but missed chances as the opening goal remained elusive.

That was until the 57th minute when Taylor’s low ball into the box was dummied and the No.10 (‘Mason’ according to Auchinleck’s Twitter feed - but whether that’s his surname, first name or Brazilian name, who knows?) was able to fire home. 1-0.

And, just like a dodgy bus service, only a minute later Auchinleck doubled their lead as Taylor (who else?) peeled off the shoulder of his marker to find space for the umpteenth time and he emphatically slammed the ball home from six yards - and a big beaming smile coupled with a knee slide celebration was proof that he enjoyed the moment very much.

At this point, you’d have probably been forgiven for thinking the floodgates were about to open, but there proved to be just one more goal and that came a few minutes from the end when Largs No.17 got himself in a pickle. Was he trying to clear the danger? Was he trying to play the ball back to the ‘keeper advancing towards him? Who knows… but the result was ‘Samson’ (good old Auchinleck Twitter feed) being allowed to tap the ball into an unguarded net.

Overall, the 3-0 scoreline was a fair reflection, such was Auchinleck’s quality, chances created, and dominance at times - especially in the second half which was one-way traffic.

However, Largs shouldn’t be too gutted because on another night - without a dodgy linesman’s flag or two interceptions from Talbot’s No.4 when he was forced to defend (and the importance of both shouldn’t be underestimated), they could quite easily have put the cat amongst the pigeons and even got a good result. They aren’t a poor team at all.

Without doubt, however, the best player on the pitch was Ross Taylor. Having done a bit of research, he’s only 19 and whilst there’s still certain bits he needs to improve (as you’d expect with any young player), his quality, athleticism, piercing balls, willingness to make himself available and uncanny ability to get into good positions (you can’t mark intelligent movement); it all shone through brightly in this game. It was an impressive performance in his white boots, capped off with a goal and an assist (never forget the assists!), and he ought to be really happy with how he played because he impacted things in such a positive way. There’s plenty of similarly-aged lads out there who wouldn’t last five minutes or be able to handle the intensity of mens football, never mind show quality, so it’s a big thumbs up from me! He was good to watch; he created a good impression - and I don’t know how he didn’t get a goal in the first half either where the ‘keeper somehow got down low and palmed his shot over the bar!

For anyone who has never been to Beechwood Park before, enjoy the photos. It’s not quite the San Siro but it’s a decent ground and much better than a few of the monstrosities at SPFL level.