THIS was a game that had everything, with end-to-end play, penalties, great saves, an ordering off and in amongst all that, seven goals.

The pattern was set straight from the kick off, with Glencairn having the first chance of the game with barely a minute on the clock.

A long ball upfield eluded everyone in the Greenock defence, but Boal’s attempted lob had too much on it.

The visitors were having the better of the opening exchanges, and really should have taken the lead on 17 minutes.

McNeil rounded home keeper Ryan McWilliams, but somehow blasted the ball wide of the open goal.

Greenock then began to get a grip of the game, and an Allan Docherty drive from 20 yards out sailed narrowly over.

The first of three spot kicks in the game was awarded on 28 minutes, when Martin Orr collected the ball in the box and cleverly wrong footed his marker, who clipped him. Referee Willie Cowie pointed to the spot, and Orr himself took the penalty, cooling sending keeper Hutchison the wrong way.

It was almost 2-0 shortly afterwards, when Craig Brown finished off an excellent Greenock move with a goal-bound shot which took a slight deflection before grazing the top of the bar.

But Glencairn drew level eight minutes before half-time, when a long through-ball saw David McGarrigle in a chase with Boal. The Glencairn man was just slightly quicker to the ball and McGarrigle’s sliding challenge brought him down, with ref Cowie awarding the second spot-kick of the match.

Ballantyne slotted home the equaliser to send the teams in tied at 1-1 at the interval.

The second half picked up where the first left off, with both teams playing excellent football and intent on winning.

On the hour mark Kenny Munro chased down a pass back and got there just before the visitors’ keeper, who upended the Greenock striker for ref Cowie to point to the spot for a remarkable third time.

Orr again sent Hutchison the wrong way to re-establish Greenock’s lead.

But no sooner had the game restarted when Glencairn were back on level terms. Some slack play in the middle of the park allowed McNeill to break free and slip the ball under McWilliams to equalise.

Greenock were then reduced to 10 men on 70 minutes.

Allan Docherty stretched to control a high ball, but unseen by him a Glencairn defender attempted to head the ball. The referee awarded the free-kick to Glencairn, but to everyone’s surprise he called back proceedings as it was about to be taken, to give Docherty his second yellow card of the game.

But as in previous matches, the sending off acted as a spur to Greenock, who were now taking the game to Glencairn. And they were duly rewarded when an Orr cross was fumbled by keeper Hutchison, and the resultant scrap saw the ball drilled home by Munro.

The Ravenscraig men then went 4-2 ahead seven minutes from time.

A Glencairn corner was broken up by Tam Jamieson, who released Brown on a mazy run and the striker crossed to Munro, who expertly slotted home from 12 yards.

At 4-2 that would normally be game over, but the fans had learned to expect the unexpected in this game.

Glencairn threw everyone forward, and looked to have got a goal back when Kilmartin sent in a 10-yard pile driver, only to see McWilliams, below, pull off an unbelievable save. It was the culmination of an outstanding display from the keeper, who broke Glencairn’s hearts on more than a few occasions.

However, even he had to admit defeat when the Rutherglen side got their third near the end, with Russell slotting home from 15 yards.

But Greenock saw out the remaining few minutes well in control, to run out winners in a pulsating game.

Their third win on the bounce sees them move up to the dizzy heights of fifth place in the Super League First Division table.

Manager Martin Campbell said: “It was another great performance by the lads, and the win creates a proper gap between us and the sides below us in the league. Of course it was an all-round team effort, but I must give special praise to Ryan McWilliams, who made a number of great saves, two or three of which were of the highest quality.

“Allan (Docherty) was devastated at getting sent off, but I did feel sorry for him. By the letter of the law the referee was right to red card him for two bookings, but Allan plays with his heart on his sleeve, and there was no malice in his challenges.” Greenock: McWilliams, T. Docherty, Doherty, Begley (McLaughlin 75), McGarrigle, Jamieson, Stanton (Craig 75), Munro (Cunning 82), Brown, A. Docherty, Orr. Subs not used: Murray, Monk.

Greenock Juniors are sponsored by SAVEHEAT, and the Lighthouse Bar.