Ardagh Glass Sectional League Cup quarter-final



IT MAY have looked like a stroll in the park from the scoreline, but Craigmark Burntonians gave Glenafton Athletic a scare as they missed a host of chances at Loch Park.

Chris Dallas bagged a hat-trick, scoring at crucial times to take the wind from the Dalmellington side's sails before Cammy Marlow bagged a double and Dale Moore and Kyle McAusland put the seal on the win.

The home side started slowly against an organised Craigmark but Dallas did have a good chance after four minutes. It epitomised Craigmark's performance as debutant Blair Cousar made a comfortable save before three defenders put their bodies on the line to block Jamie McKernon's effort.

Craigmark harried and harassed the Glens players not giving them a minute on the ball and it almost led to the opener after 14 minutes. Daniel McColgan's throw was played back to him on the right and he crossed the ball towards far post for Declan Dunlop who headed the ball narrowly wide with the goal gaping.

A little more quality in the away side's ranks and they could have forged better chances as they found themselves in good positions but the final ball was almost always lacking.

You could be forgiven for think a cup upset was on the cards when Glenafton won a free-kick on 19 minutes. David Gray delivered the ball from the right and Michael McCann's snapshot was well saved before Ryan Borris' effort was blocked and McAusland fired over from the edge of the box. Three glorious chances but luck seemed to be on Craigmark's side.

That was until the opening goal. Moments after Scott Dempster had almost robbed Brian McGarrity in the Glens box for what would have been a certain goal, Dallas picked up, drove down the right and crossed into the box. The ball looped up over Cousar and cracked off the post, Dallas not even celebrating the fluke of a goal.

Just three minutes later it was 2-0. Dunlop had won Craigmark a corner but the delivery was poor and Glens were able to launch a counter attack where McKernon crossed the ball from the right for Dallas to stroke the ball home.

It wasn't the killer blow Glens may have hoped as 'Mark manager Ian Patterson issued the rallying cry from the touchline.

They started the second half in the same manner as the first. They were the better team and had the home side in an awkward position. A Dempster free-kick on 51 minutes was a sign of things to come as he sliced the effort wide.

On 54 minutes came the potential turning point. Dempster's free-kick was better this time, deflected to substitute Dylan Thirtle, only seconds on the park and he was fouled in the box. Penalty.

Dempster stepped up but, unfortunately for the travelling support, their isn't a word in the English language that can describe just how bad this penalty was. A let off for Glenafton and the catalyst for a comfortable win.

The game slowly slipped away from Craigmark. Gray's free-kick on 61 minutes led to the first in a succession of sensational Glens' goals. Dallas completed his hat-trick by plucking the ball out of the air with a first-time volley that Cousar had no chance of stopping.

Marlow got in on the action eight minutes later when he picked up the the left and hit the ball from the edge of the box. It rattled the crossbar bouncing down and back out the goal. You could tell from Cousar's reaction though, there was no doubt it was over the line.

He scored his second in almost identical fashion after 75 minutes when his mazy run ended in a shot from the edge of the box which hit the bar and bounced over the line.

Craigmark almost avoided the sixth on 82 minutes but Dallas was on hand to make sure Moore's shot would definitely cross the line, unselfishly pointing to his teammate who was credited with the goal.

A lovely move led to the final goal as Gray's free-kick was played in field to McKernon who set up McAusland who struck an absolute belter from outside the box.

GLENAFTON ATHLETIC: McGarrity, Menzies, Marlow, McKnight, McAusland, McKernon, Borris (Lynass 66), Gray, Dallas, McCann, McGill (Moore 56). Subs: Park, McChesney, Watson.

CRAIGMARK BURNTONIANS: Cousar, McColgan, Dawson, McKay, Maxwell, Reid, Dunlop, Dyer, Dempster (Steele 85), Barr (Mair 85), Ferguson (Thirtle 54). Subs: Gallagher.