Rutherglen Glencairn sealed the West Region Championship title after a convincing 6-2 win against Dalry Thistle at The Celsius Stadium. The home side knew that a victory of any kind should have been enough to ensure they returned to the top tier of the west region junior pyramid for the first time since 2011 with nearest rivals Benburb hoping for a slip up whilst they required a win away to already relegated Kello Rovers along with a 13 goal swing to snatch an unlikely title.
Dalry had turned up at The Celsius Stadium with little to play for but in the opening exchanges showed that they were not solely there to make up the numbers although it would be the home side who would have the majority of the chances as the game progressed. After efforts from Dale Simeon and Jordan Leyden failed to trouble Marc Fisher in the Thistle goal their pressure finally came to fruition on the 25th minute thanks to Simeon, his strike leaving Fisher with no chance. The sense of relief was palpable on the terraces but further chances from the lively pair of Simeon and Leyden would go begging and it would be the Ayrshire side who would equalise from the penalty spot to put the home fans back on edge. Glens keeper Gary Whyte made the call to come for what looked like a fairly innocuous cross from the Dalry left, however in coming out he clattered in to the challenging Neil McGregor leaving the referee with little choice but to point to the spot. Midfielder Jordan Stuart stepped up and duly converted to draw the sides level and offer Benburb a glimmer of hope.
That hope would not last long though as two goals in two minutes from Leyden would put Willie Harvey’s side back in charge. First the midfielder was afforded too much time on the right hand side of the Dalry box, cutting inside before curling a low well placed shot through a raft of bodies and into the bottom corner. His second again found the Dalry defence wanting as he was left unmarked in the middle of the area with his downwards header out of the reach of Fisher once again.
Just after half time the championship t-shirts could start to be unwrapped as on the 47th minute a cross ball from Tam Miller reached Stevie Kerr to put in a fourth for Glens. That seemed to settle any remaining nerves and with the confidence that securing a title brings the home side started to play with increasing levels of freedom. On the 58th minute good work again from Simeon saw his cross ball reach an on-rushing Jay McKay who nodded home from close range and a minute later it was six with Simeon grabbing his second of the game with his low passed shot into the corner signalling the start of the title party. Dalry would get a further consolation through Dylan McLintock but by the time Leyden’s injury time penalty panenka attempt sailed over the bar the Glens knew that their place in the West Region Premiership was not only assured, but that they would also be going up as champions.
FT: Rutherglen Glencairn 6-2 Dalry Thistle
Glencairn: Simeon (25,59), Leyden (38,40), Kerr (47), McKay (58)
Dalry Thistle: Stuart (32), McLintock (75)