Thursday, April 24, 2008

Could this side put the Great back in Glen?

Inverness 0 Glenurquhart 5
If there is one thing to say about this game it is that the Glen forwards -all four of them - played with passion and for them to play with passion the midfield were on hand to provide the service. If the side continues to perform like this - and this is to take nothing away from Inverness who were down a couple of players - then the red and black faithful will have some pleasant afternoons to look forward to. Let’s put it no higher than that at this early stage.
Looking at the side overall, the balance seems right and the lads on the bench who came on are every bit as capable of a performance as those who were included in the starting line up.
The new ingredient this week was the presence of Gregor McCormack up as front man : it may have been tried before but Gregor’s experience and mobility on the inside Bught was the component that seemed to make the rest of the front men tick.
Inverness started off with a flourish- it is not for nothing that they won their two openers - and The Goalie had to be lively to push aside an early opportunity that fell to the City Slickers . It soon become clear however that Eddie Tembo -especially in the early stages -was not going to be baulked and he began to drive balls forward up the line , a feat matched on the other side by Dave Maclennan. It was a long ball from full centre Arran Macdonald -his hitting was immense throughout the afternoon -that was flicked on to Gregor McCormack in the full forward position. He knocked the ball back and Neale Reid -who gave wing back Daniel Polombo a torrid time throughout the afternoon -was on hand to fire it in to the net.
Sustained Glen pressure kept Inverness pinned back for the next period despite the efforts of Davie Glass and Drew Howie to stem the tide. However they could do nothing about Reid’s second goal which came in 15 minutes. The youngster picked up the ball and ran through the Inverness defence only to be blocked by home keeper Stuart Macrae ,who had a much more successful afternoon than the final score suggests. The ball broke wide but Reid was first to react. Sprinting back out he retrieved the loose ball and volleyed an unstoppable strike into the roof of the net.
The third Glen goal was a delight: Eddie Tembo broke on the right after running on to a lovely through ball from Lewis Maclennan. The big wing centre rode two heavy tackles on the side and fired the ball across the D where Maclennan , at full stretch caught the ball on his stick and guided it past the helpless keeper. It was as near to the perfect goal as the Glen usually gets .
Maclennan might have been given another goal a few minutes after that when he pounced on a ball across the D and dinked it in over the line just in time for referee Calum Duff to mark it down as offside. The decision from the stand looked marginal but by definition margins can lead either way. Sadly this time the decision went with the home side.
A few minutes later Maclennan again caused Inverness to feel the pressure when he won the ball about 15 yards out and fired a rocket shot on goal only to see his effort blocked by Inverness keeper Macrae.
The second half began with the Glen under more pressure than they had experienced in the first half because this time they were playing into the wind which turned out to be stronger than first realised. The result was the Inverness began to gain more possession and it was only the fact that the Glen defence is of top quality that kept out the home side. The main handful was David Neilson and but for the fact that the Slickers were missing Gordy Gray the suspicion is that they may have pulled something back. Steve Munro was up as front man and he never gives up and it was his persistence which saw him embroiled in a clash with full back John Barr that almost brought the home side back into the match. Barr won the ball but in the process Munro was knocked to the ground and the incident was judged by referee Duff to be a penalty.
Inverness’s new signing Neilson steeped up to take the strike but Stuart Mackintosh was up for it and pulled off a magnificent stop at his left hand side. Not for nothing does the Goalie hold the record for under 21 appearances in the national jersey and it is only a shame that the absence of the Glen from the top division means that the likelihood of senior international honours is liable to be denied to him.
Having lost that chance Inverness fell away and though the Glen had to replace the injured Dave Maclennan and Andrew Corrigan who had taken a nasty blow to the leg in the first half the side if anything grew stronger.
The fourth goal was another top drawer affair when Eddie Tembo worked a long ball forward to McCormack who sprinted wide on the right before cutting the ball back into the path of Lewis Maclennan who blasted it past Macrae ,who was fortunate enough not to have been struck by accident with Maclennan’s phenomenal strike.
The final Glen goal came right on the final whistle and was enough to grant Neale Reid a well deserved hat-trick. Having closed down keeper Macrae at pace Reid was struck on the back by the keeper’s clearance but still had the presence of mind in front of the sticks to steer the ball home through a ruck of defending bodies on the line. That act alone means that he merits the coveted headline pic of the week. Well done young man! Look who you are upstaging! Behind you-no not Peter.
Anyway, there we have it- a comprehensive win for the top side though the Wing Centre will not be counting chickens before they actually hatch. Saturday’s game against Skye will be a big test. The Islanders will be keen to do well and if rumour is to be believed they will have a full side out at Blairbeg to contest the quarter final MacTavish match. The forwards will have to be right on their game if a semi place is to be gained.
If euphoria was the order of the day at the Bught, the afternoon match against Boleskine was a disappointment. Suffice to say that the Glen should have won out of sight, despite the absence of a number of players and injuries to Dave Smart and latterly Calum Miller.
In the end Boleskine pinched the points in the last five minutes.
Glen took the lead early though a nice Bradley Dickson finish but ironically Glen native Raymond Robertson pulled one back for the boys from the bad side of the loch. Neat combination between Ali Mackintosh -who was called on to replace David Smart-and Calum Miller restored the Glen lead but a long hopeful drive by Ben Taylor-Macpherson (they don’t make names like that on this side of the loch) eluded Glen keeper Dave Emery and the sides were level. Lewis Smith put Boleskine in the lead for the first time in 70 minutes but Ross MacAulay who had moved up from the centreline equalised in 75 before things finally turned bad for the Glen.
For the second time in the afternoon, referee Duff awarded a penalty against the Glen ( the Wing Centre can feel a quiz question coming on) but this time his decision was judged by the spectators to be correct. The Wing Centre can hardly bring himself to admit it -since by nature he feels that all penalties given against the Glen are unjust - but CD was correct. Lewis Smith stepped up to take it and promptly had his shot saved by keeper Emery but the rebound fell to David Fraser and he made no mistake from severe close range.
All in all a disappointing result and made all the more so in the knowledge that the game should have been well and truly won before half time.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

He-e-e-e-e-e-e-eere’s Benny !

Sutherland Cup
Glenurquhart 8 Lochaber 1
While the top side were over on the Misty Isle and in answer to the Wing Centre’s fervent prayer were actually scoring, Hendo’s youngsters were doing likewise at Blairbeg. To be fair they faced up to a very young Lochaber side which will mature in time but though the descendants of the West Highland cattle thieves put up a good display in the first half to keep the scores at 1-1 (despite several blows to the post from Glen camans) they were never going to cause such havoc as their ancestors did at Coire Buidhe.
The game opened on a rather risky note from the Glen when Dave Smart was booked in 2 minutes as a result of a mistimed tackle but made amends not long afterwards when after excellent work on the right by young Ben Hosie he fired a shot off the Lochaber post. Within a minute another youngster Bradley Dickson had a shot well saved by the Lochaber keeper.
The Glen were fully on the attack at this point and soon it was full forward Calum Fraser who broke through only to see his drive whiz narrowly past the post. If there was a feature of the match at this period it was the right wing forward display by Ben Hosie. Always willing to taken on his opponent and with an excellent touch on the stick he made life difficult for the Lochaber wing back who commendably was never tempted to strong arm the Glen winger off the ball.
In 20 minutes Hosie burst through the defence to get on to a Calum Fraser cut back but his shot flew narrowly past the left hand post. The Glen began to force a series of corners at the Druimlon end and twice more Hosie had his attempts blocked by the Lochaber keeper.
When the breakthrough came however in 30 minutes ,it was Bradley Dickson who was the supplier. Winning the ball on the left he squirmed it back to Calum Fraser who hit it briskly past the helpless Lochaber keeper.
The Glen continued to press and a snap shot from Smart came back off the post with the keeper stranded while a Fraser cut back again found Hosie who once more saw his shot pushed past for yet another corner.
Then just before half time , disaster struck . Some slack marking in the Glen midfield allowed the Cattle Lifters to get a rare ball forward and being the shady bunch they are they pinched a goal courtesy of a nice finish from Kenny Forsyth. The time of the theft was an irritating 44 minutes.
The second half however saw a different scenario played out . Within five minutes of the restart David Smart had restored the Glen lead with a neat finish and shortly afterwards Ben Hosie made it 3-1 thanks to an excellent finish from the edge of the D. Next it was the turn of Bradley Dickson to add to the Glen total with a magnificent strike from distance which the Lochaber keeper could do nothing about.
Ben Hosie was next on hand to score when he grabbed his second to make the Glen total 5. It was a fitting reward for the youngster because he continued his excellent display right throughout the second half . Not only did he place the corners he took from the right perfectly on to his onrushing forwards , he always looked to be creative whenever he got the ball and in the circumstances, being directly in front of young Neil Porter he received plenty of through ball. On several occasions he outwitted his opponent by flicking the ball back between his own legs to leave himself free to run on to goal and as the pitches dry out and if the grass is kept short he ought to find things should be more in his favour. As he returned to the wing after the strike the Club snapper captured the picture at the head of the report and because it contrasts so greatly with last week’s post Balliemore illustration
At this point Manager Henderson rang some changes and introduced wily veteran Stuart Morrison to the fray and he promptly rewarded the manager with two goals of his own -one which the Wing Centre did not see because he was busy taking a collection from the gaggle of interested observers who had assembled to spectate.
The second Morrison goal ,which made it 8 for the Glen, came interestingly enough in 88 minutes and is described as a “well struck shot” in the Wing Centre’s reporter’s notebook and so it probably was though it cannot bear comparison with the glorious 30 yard drive from David Smart which gave the Glen their 7th goal . It flew perfectly straight and true into the shop end goal and was along with Bradley’s earlier goal and Ben’s overall performance the reason why the Wing Centre has wasted so much of his adult life following the indigenous sport when he could have been digging his garden or completing DIY tasks around the house.
Just as the game ended word came through from the Inner Hebrides that the top side had won 3-1 and that Neale Reid and Lewis Maclennan had scored.
“Who got the third?” was the question asked.
It was Cork. There was delight all round the ground- and the joy continued unabated even when Astie at Alton Towers spoiled the celebration by reporting that Ally Mor had phoned to say the ball had come off a Skyeman called Alan Macleod. The Wing Centre wonders whether the fellow exists and that Ally Mor was trying to upset the Glen and produced off the top of his head for Astie’s benefit one of the two traditional generic names for Skyemen, the second being Angus Macdonald. Whatever - Ally Mor’s version stood and Alan Macleod got official credit for the goal - which is surprising because he plays for Strathglass..
It might be worth noting that the Glen minutes will undoubtedly grant the goal to Cork.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

When the cat’s away it seems the mice are reluctant to score.

Glenurquhart 2 Lochcarron 1
Glenurquhart 0 Caberfeidh

After the slowest of starts to the season, the Wing Centre has managed to be firth of the Glen long enough to miss two games in a row-one a fine win at home to Lochcarron in the MacTavish Cup and a not so fine draw with Caberfeidh also at home . So what can you make of the Glen? At least as far as this season goes so far they have not been beaten .
However the real verdict must be that the Wing Centre is unsure really at this stage and somewhat concerned about this weekend’s trip to Skye which is why this piece has not been posted in time for the youngsters to read it and feel that the Wing Centre is suffering from a crisis of confidence..
Still it was nice to defeat the Caranachs in the Cup and this weekend should be a bonus in that it will tell us a little about the nature of the Sgiathanachs. The hope is that with their football season started the few of them that see a future playing pub football in the North reserve league, will be playing the round ball game to try to impress coaches who have come over to see the natives disport themselves on the reservation.
The Wing Centre has an instinctive distaste for the imperialist tendencies of football, especially now that it seems to have been given the approval of the Almighty in the Glen but sometimes it is an ill wind. The hope lingers that half the Skye squad will choose the round ball this weekend -though most probably Davie MacVicar has converted the whole top end of the island to the true faith with his evangelical fervour for the stick game.
Back to the Caranachs. The Wing Centre was in the car driving through the snow and speaking to Mr Reid about the game. Mr Reid had just paid the referee an inordinate amount of the Lotto money for coming north from Argyll to officiate- whatever happened to Donnie Fraser from Inverness- and was clearly in no mood to go into fine detail on the match.
“Two goals from Lewis Maclennan “
“That it”
“When did he get them?”
“During the game- when do you think?”
“Astie will want the times.”
There was a great deal of sighing . The Wing Centre had to remind Mr Reid that he possessed a photograph of Mr Reid as a young nipper in the 1958 school Macpherson Cup team ,which ,if published would cause his two sons and most probably his good lady to laugh and laugh and laugh.
“35 minutes and 82 minutes”
“Their goal?”
More huffing and puffing
“Darren Coyle 44”
“So it was a close game and we nicked it at the end . What were Lewis’s goals like?”
The phone went dead. Mr Reid was obviously in no mood to elaborate.
Hendo wasn’t much better.
“What were Lewis ‘s goals like?”
“Good goals. That’s all Lewis scores”
So that was it-no more to say or describe.
As for Lochcarron , for all the heroes were concerned they might have spent the day rounding up sheep or painting the boats on the loch for all the attention their efforts attracted.
On return to Drum the question was asked about the Caranachs.
“How did Alan Mackenzie play at full back?”
“OK but Neale Reid gave him a hard game ”
“But it’s the great Alan Mackenzie. The best full back in the whole world apart from the eight in the Premier League that is”
“He was OK”
“What about Kenny Ross?”
“Ok -but he’s not as hard to play against as his father”
The Wing Centre was taken aback by this because he did not think the speaker had ever played against Kenny though he had clashed camans with Ronnie often enough.
Asking about the Cabers game caused more problems. A wall of silence descended.
“What happened?” seemed a reasonable request at the time.
It obviously wasn’t.
“Typical Cabers game. A wet day. Freezing cold. The park was heavy-just couldn’t score. You know Cabers-hard at the back. Denzil and the rest of them. Macgregor as well.” said Mr Reid
“What’s wrong with that?” asked the Wing Centre
“Nothing, “ said Mr Reid.
“So how many saves did Archie the Goalie have to make”
The Wing Centre paused for dramatic effect.
“But they never threatened us either” concluded Mr Reid.
The picture was becoming clearer : in the end the press release from the politburo stated that the Glen had 70% of the play but the other relevant fact was that Archie the Goalie made no saves. Then again neither did Stuart the Goalie
The Wing Centre was about to phone Davie MacMaster to get the other side of the story but in the end decided not to bother. If Stuart the Goalie had no saves to make then what was the point of having Davie MacMaster trying to beat down the Glen figure of possession claimed from 70% to perhaps 69%. Waste of time.
It was Astie at Alton Towers on Tuesday who really forced the Wing Centre to think on his feet.
“No one phoned in the result last week“, he said accusingly “but I got it in the end”
“Glad you did but that would have been Mr Reid and from his perspective it would have been right not to phone.”
“What do you mean ?“ said Astie.
“Well there were no goals , so Mr Reid would have thought there was no point in phoning in because the default position on your computer would have been a 0-0 draw. What was the point of contacting you when you already knew the result.?”
Astie put the phone down - and the Wing Centre notes that the Glen were not awarded the prize for Team of the Month.
As for the snap at the top, the Wing Centre thought it might be a good idea to remind the lads what it feels like when you don’t score. No? Perhaps not such a good idea after all. Then score!!

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