‘Nock Take Victory After Putting Seven Past Muirkirk

Muirkirk Juniors 0 Cumnock 7

Report by Andy Jack

The Nock gaffer went more attacking with a 4-3-3 formation to try and get the forwards firing again. Hunter was back in the starting eleven with Esplin relegated to the bench. Wood got his first start of the season replacing Crawford. Barnes was given the gloves in place of Johnson.

It didn’t take long for the away side to carve out their first chance, with Monty putting in a great cross down the right, but Anson could only head over. The Nock team already looked refreshed from Wednesday and the passing was a lot more accurate. Five minutes in and there was some excellent play by Lundie who pushed forward from defence. He found Forsyth who laid it off to Burns and he chipped it over to Anson who did get his cross in but only to the vacant back post. Burns was orchestrating things in midfield and after a neat one-two with McKenzie he delivered a dangerous cross which the keeper punched out. Hunter then blazed one high over the bar.

The Muirkirk players struggled to keep possession but their number 10 did find his team-mate number 7 who shot straight at Nock keeper Barnes. He looked suspiciously offside but with no ’official’ linesmen to aid him the referee was forgiven.

It seemed a matter of when not if Cumnock would score, as they continued to push forward. A McKenzie shot was saved well and then in the 13th minute the Nock did take the lead. Forsyth held up well and passed to McKenzie who ran down the left-hand side of the box before unselfishly squaring it across to Anson who tapped in. The Nock players couldn’t score the past two games but, just like buses, it only took a minute for them to find the net again. In an almost carbon copy of the first goal, McKenzie did all the donkey work down the left and this time he squared it for Forsyth. The home dugout were screaming for offside against McKenzie but stand-in assistant referee Neil Robertson was too busy flagging the midges away.

Hunter and Burns were controlling the midfield and after the former harried the defenders, the latter hit a right-footed shot off the top of the cross bar. The Muirkirk players weren’t given any time on the ball whereas Lundie and McKenna had the freedom to pass to each other calmly at the back. Twenty-two minutes in and Anson slipped the ball through to McKenzie. It initially looked like the defender would get there before McKenzie but he misjudged it and McKenzie was left through on goal with only one outcome; 3-0 to the Nock and fully deserved. All three Nock forwards were now on the score sheet which would have delighted their manager.

On the half hour mark Muirkirk issued a reminder to the Nock defence to remain vigilant. The Muirkirk number 7 swung in a great free kick towards the back post, which briefly caused a bit of confusion between Barnes and Lundie, but there was no Muirkirk player on the end of it. At the other end, Montgomerie was pulled down just outside the box. He took the free kick himself, hitting over the wall to the right of goal, but the keeper was equal to it and punched out for a corner which was cleared.

Muirkirk’s number 2 then lofted a great ball over the defence and their number 11 expertly took it out of the sky onto his toes and, after skinning Wood, he got a smart low shot away which Barnes did well to steer away from danger. That was good play.

Burns and Hunter linked up well again and after their smart one-two, Burns skipped inside then back out to the left before delivering a great through ball for McKenzie, but this time he could only find the side net. A few minutes before the half-time whistle and the Nock could have made it four. Anson got his low shot away and although the keeper did get down to save well, he pushed it into the path of the oncoming McKenzie at the back post who somehow managed to sky it over from just two yards out! I would have put my house on him scoring that. But sadly, I would now be homeless.

The Nock declared 3-0 at half-time.

Nock gaffer McKeown cut a lonesome figure in the dugout, with only the midges for company, as his assistant Devlin was sent to spy on the Nock’s league opposition.  McKenzie and Hunter were substituted for the start of the second half, with McLaughlin and trialist Sean Fitzharris coming on, meaning the Nock now reverted back to a 4-4-2.

Two minutes into the start of the second half and Burns delivered a great ball over the top to Forsyth but his shot went wide. Montgomerie then did the same for Anson but he too shot wide. Fitzharris got in a good challenge in midfield and passed to McLaughlin but his cross was cleared. Burns found McLaughlin again and his first time cross had danger written all over it but it bypassed the attackers. Forsyth then held it up and laid off for Anson whose shot just breezed past the post. It was one-way traffic as the Muirkirk players looked tired after chasing shadows for most of the game.

We were now an hour into the match when Forsyth chipped it over to Liam who put another brilliant cross towards Montgomerie who just misjudged the contact on the ball. Forsyth and McLaughlin linked up well again but McLaughlin was eventually closed down by the keeper who did well to block it. McKenna was replaced by Esplin in the 65th minute, with Wood moving in a place to take up the centre-back position.

The Nock players were hungry for more goals. On the 72nd minute, Fitzharris delivered a great through ball to Forsyth who was heading through on goal, but the last defender deliberately clipped his heels just outside the box and the ref had no option but to show the red card. Fitzharris stepped up to the resultant free kick and his great effort hit the under-side of the bar, only to then hit the back of the unfortunate keeper and go into the net to make it 4-0 to the Nock. Fitzharris deserved it but it would surely have to go down as an own goal.

Forsyth, who was having a fine game, picked out a pass for Burns but he hit a weak shot straight into the keeper’s arms. Into the 80th minute and Muir delivered a great ball into the feet of Anson who turned the defender and shot past the keeper for his second goal of the game. If this was a boxing match the towel would have been thrown in by now as the ten men were out on their feet. Just 60 seconds later and McLaughlin passed to fellow substitute Fitzharris and he hit a right footed shot into the net, albeit with the slightest of deflections. A thoroughly deserved goal.

Fitzharris wanted another; he ran from the halfway line and hit a right-footed shot which just curled past the post. He then tried to turn provider when delivering a ball over the top from the right but Anson was slow to react and the attack ended with McLaughlin shooting into the keeper’s arms. McLaughlin tried to help Anson get his hat-trick with another great cross in from the left but Anson couldn’t get on the end of it.

As luck would have it though, he only had to wait two more minutes to claim the match ball. Muir took the ball and skillfully left one half of the Muirkirk players dazed and the other half on their backside with his twist and turns, before hitting a lobbed shot which seemed like it was going to drop in – but sadly for Muir it hit the top of the crossbar instead, although Anson was first to the rebound and rose above to head into the bottom left of the net. Final score 7-0 to the Nock.

The Nock gaffer will have been pleased with the response he got from his players after the disappointment of midweek. Getting back amongst the goals was a necessity to get the confidence going again and it was pleasing to see all 3 strikers finding the net today. Muirkirk were ultimately well-beaten on the day but weren’t short of effort. Best of luck for the season ahead.

Cumnock: Barnes, Muir, Lundie, McKenna, Wood, Burns, Hunter, Montgomerie, McKenzie, Anson, Forsyth. Subs: McLaughlin, Esplin, Crawford, Fitzharris (Trialist).

Goals: Anson 13, 75, 88, Forsyth 14, McKenzie 22, OG 72, Fitzharris 76.

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