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South Lochaber Thistle 3-1 Belleaire AFC
Greater Glasgow Premier AFL Division 2
South Lochaber Thistle opened the new year by maintaining their unbeaten league form, wrapping up a convincing win at home to Belleaire AFC, until now the only other unbeaten team in the league this season.
Cheered on by a good crowd, Thistle’s opening goal came inside three minutes after a veteran midfield general Dave Forbes stepped up and lazily stroked a free kick over the wall and around the visitor’s keeper to secure the lead.
Thistle were moving the ball from the back confidently, Shane Gillies at right back linking well with Sean Noble on the right allowing space and time for Forbes and Andrew Maclean to get the ball down and play around the busy centre midfielders of the visitors.
However, clear cut chances were hard to come by and, when they did, the Belleaire keeper was in excellent form, parrying one effort around the post and getting a tip over the bar to another Jags’ drive which looked bound for the back of the net.
The Greenock outfit are tough competitors and soon got stuck into the task as Owen Cooke in the home side’s goal made several outstanding saves, notably a scooped save over the bar which denied Belleaire parity.
From restarts, the visitors were looking to go long early and, as the first half drew to a close this tactic meant that they had pushed almost of their men forward for a corner. A clearance to Lewis Morrison just outside the SLT box saw the winger dart away and isolate the Belleaire centre half two-on-one with skipper Martin Munro. A savvy pass saw the talisman scamper away, round the on-rushing keeper and finish with a flourish to double the advantage.
The second half should have been plain sailing for Jags but from the restart a lofted ball into the box allowed the powerfully built Belleaire midfielder to set himself and produce a competent finish past Cooke on the volley to reduce the deficit.
As the visitors continued to press for a draw, the game became niggly with fouls from both sides and some debate-generating officiating.
Chance after chance had been foiled by Belleaire’s keeper whose sparkling form continued but in the end it was Noble who had the decisive say. Pressure had been building before John Ferguson and Munro combined to put Noble away and, clean through, he put the game out of sight as the 90 minutes elapsed.
South Lochaber Thistle’s next fixture is away in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup to high flying Division One side, Calderglen on Saturday.