Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Clear The Road For Lovat

Glenurquhart 2 Lovat 3

The late Alistair Mackenzie told me a story once about the way the old Fraser retainers of the Aird would shout out as Lord Lovat and /or any of the scions of the Fraser nobility made their way by car to Beauly in the early years of the 20th Cent.
“Clear the road for Lovat” was the cry that went up.
The Glen certainly did that on Saturday. Two up in the first half , in charge of a game that they should have sealed up before the turn around, they ended up losing by one goal for the fourth time at home this season. Frustrating !
Well the guys certainly have to keep on fighting-more aggression would certainly help-more leadership on the field too ,and perhaps a little more luck.
It all started so promisingly despite the absence of Lewis Maclennan, John Barr and Ruaraidh Cameron. In 18 minutes Dave Smart got the ball across to Neale Reid who drove it home low. Then in 35 minutes Andrew Corrigan picked up the second goal after some neat combination between Neale Reid and Alistair Mackintosh. So here we have the perfect situation 2-0 up - and it certainly could have been 3 with Corrigan having also missed a reasonable chance in 25 mins .
What was happening at this point was that the Glen were running through the Lovat defence : Jimmy Mackenzie at full back for Lovat was unwilling to leave the D and Dave Smart and Neale Reid had the edge on the young Lovat backs. If this pattern had continued then the Glen could have certainly been confident of a clear victory. Lovat were frustrated and did little to create- then just before half time a long shot is saved by Stewart Mackintosh ; the ball bounces back into play and aided by a piece of defensive misplacement Ewan Ferguson scores.
The second half is very similar ,though Lovat begin to creep back into the match as time goes by. They are helped by the physical competitiveness of their players. The young wing backs are hard ,physical and skilful players but just too strong for Neale Reid ,Dave Smart and Alistair Mackintosh. Even Corrigan gets jostled off the ball too often to be true : no ref is ever going to give these-the only answer is to swing back, always a little late ,always a little high and if it gets done back to you, you don’t complain. The goals when they arrive come late in the day. By that time Paul Mackintosh has come off from the midfield and Stewart Morrison has come on up front.
A defensive slip made the difference- firstly a poor clearance allowed a ball to go across to Jamie Matheson who finished things off in 83 minutes ; another piece of slackness allowed Ewan Ferguson to run with the ball across field for what seemed an eternity before he fired a marvellous shot into the net. 3-2 not enough time to come back into the game..
Bottom line-Ferguson was allowed to run too far. He is a powerful athlete as befits a rugby player but he ought to have been physically challenged before he made it to where he hit the ball. Bluntly he should have been taken down- and I advocate that every time: it is simple realism.
It did not happen and Lovat picked up the points.
So- good points: the opening phase of play. Arran Macdonald was sound at centre especially in the second half . Dave Maclennan played well but tired towards the end .Like wise Andrew Donald- some superb patches of play but then exhaustion at the end. David Girvan had a fine game and was solid in his hitting until that unfortunate slip at the end but though that caused the goal ,the game wasn’t lost there. We lost because we were not quite fit enough in the last ten minutes ; perhaps we should have juggled around with positions-pulled Corrigan back, kept Paul Mackintosh on - but more importantly apart from being fitter we have to shout more, believe more and be more aggressive-verbally and physically. There is great promise in the team : of the four sides which have beaten the Glen the only one which was clearly superior was Kinlochshiel. This side has been to two Balliemore semis back to back: they have done well in National Division 1 . Now is the time to wake up and realise if they don’t lift it they have a clear opportunity of being one of the very good Glen teams that never actually won anything. Outlasted for fitness by a Lovat team. Unbelievable but true - and all credit to Johnny MacRitchie and Jimmy Gallagher for the turn around they have effected there.
I enjoyed the Lovat crowd and the banter. Its years since we had them here and Ronnie Millican, Jimmy Johansen and Jimmy Gallagher are shinty men through and through . Its good to have them back. Ronnie Millican was in the shorts and doing the goal judging. He came down the field for a blether at the end of the match.
“If I had legs like that Ronnie I would ask the council to take them away” , said Ally Mac.
“You’re just jealous”, said Ronnie back-then he paused “of the result ” He was grinning from ear to ear.
So that’s two wins to Lovat then. First the game -then the banter.

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