Rossvale 4 Larkhall 5: Vale just fail to pull off wonder fightback

Anton McDowell grabbed Rossvale's first goal against Larkhall. (Pic by Jamie Forbes)
Anton McDowell grabbed Rossvale's first goal against Larkhall. (Pic by Jamie Forbes)

Rossvale just failed to pull off a wonder comeback in a nine-goal Central First Division spectacular against Larkhall on Saturday.

The battle between fourth and third in the table was the proverbial game of two halves as Larkhall built up a 5-0 lead only to be almost caught.

After a cagey opening period the visitors took the lead in the 17th minute.

A ball was played down the Larkhall left side and was crossed in for Graham Gracie to easily tap in to open the scoring with the ‘Vale defence in a mess.

Rossvale went into the attack and a Craig Holmes shot was held by Stuart Thomson.

A Holmes corner was then only cleared to Kenny Hadden whose curling shot went just past the far post.

However the visitors doubled their lead when Gracie made a great run down the right unchallenged and cut the ball back for Gary McStay to score from five yards.

The Rossvale defence looked in a shambles at this stage and were again made to pay for it when Gracie was give room to score his second in the 40th minute after he received a pass and had time to turn and place it past Jamie Donnelly.

The big striker was causing the Rossvale defence all sorts of trouble and nearly scored again three minutes later when he got onto the end of a free-kick after Donnelly had dropped the ball but the keeper managed to keep it out at the second attempt.

Three down at the break, Rossvale made a change at half-time with Gary McGrath on for O’Brien.

But right from the kick-off Larkhall’s Brian Jack found himself at the back post unmarked to tap home for the fourth goal with the ’Vale defence looking as if they had stayed in the dressing room at the break.

Larkhall continued to pressure and in the 53rd minute Gracie scored again to make it 5-0.

Rossvale boss Brian McGinty replaced Euan Baird and David Leadbetter with Chris Dolan and Gary Trussler and straight away the change nearly worked as Dolan played a through ball to Steven Seaton and Thomson had to look smart to clear.

’Vale’ were now coming into the game and Anton McDowell curled a beautiful shot past the Thomson to get one back in the 75th minute.

McGrath then headed in at the near post from a Dolan corner to make it 5-2 with seven minutes left.

Larkhall’s Mark Canning of Larkhall was given a straight red for dissent in the 84th minute and a minute later Dolan put Seaton through on the keeper who saved his first attempt but was beaten by a with a cheeky backheel from the rebound.

Thomson was kept busy in goal with crosses and shots being fired into his box and on 89 minutes Sean Doherty got a touch to a loose ball to make it 5-4 with the Larkhall defence posted missing.

Rossvale nearly completed a wonder comeback right on final whistle when Seaton got onto the end of a Trussler cross but his header slipped past the back post to the relief of the Thistle defence.

Next Saturday, Rossvale play their final away league game of the season at Thorniewood United.