Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Afternoon of Mixed Fortunes-but Youngsters Storm the Fort.

Glenurquhart 4 Fort William 2
The weather wasn’t any good and the news from Newtonmore wasn’t any good either but at Blairbeg, Hendo’s Heroes made an excellent start to their first season in North Div 2 , so without apologies to anyone and because the Wing Centre was present for the victory , that is the game which will be featured.
A 4-2 win against Fort William- probably the first occasion they have been beaten for about a season -is some reason for celebration. However, as always it is not wise to let the heart rule the head. This Fort William squad are a good side : the majority, with the exception of Victor Smith, Willie Macdonald and a couple of others, are youngsters and their emphasis is on quick fast moving shinty which was a style that the heavy turf of a wet Blairbeg did not permit them to play. They did however start off with a bang when right wing forward Daniel Stewart pounced on a loose push out from the Glen defence. He just had enough space to hammer the ball home from an acute angle before wing back Calum Smith could get his blocking club beyond the ball. Not that that bothered Smith however for until he came off with an injured back in the second half, he gave Stewart, one of the brightest of the Fort youngsters a tough time. He imposed himself on the ball as he had to, cleared well when required and made these tracking runs which none but former wing backs and centre men ever notice but are nevertheless the bedrock of a sound performance. It was an effective afternoon for the youngster.
The Glen despite the early Fort lead showed themselves capable of taking the game to their opponents and in a short space of time Fort keeper Paul Mackay had to make a string of good saves from Stuart Morrison and Calum Fraser. On the 15 minute mark the young Fort keeper pulled off an excellent stop from an Iain Macleod drive after a cleverly worked Ben Hosie free hit.
Eventually late in the half the Glen got back on level terms with a goal from Calum Fraser after Iain Macleod had fired the ball across from a free hit, the big forward ran into space and dinked the ball past the keeper. The same player had the ball in the net a few minutes later only to have it ruled offside because a team-mate was off side. It was the correct decision and it has to be said that referee Irvine had an excellent game in what one might have thought could have been a fiery match. He stuck to his guns and rebuked those on the field and officials off it who were tempted to go too far- and the game was the better for it.
The second half started with the Glen on the back foot as the Fort changed the focus of their attack, with veteran Willie Macdonald coming on to replace Victor Smith up on the saw dust. The Glen were fortunate that Iain Macdonald, who had been on the sidelines at the back end of the season with an arm injury, was back to his best after a spell in the first half when he struggled with the muddy surface. The Glen struggled hard for the next period and Fort forced a number of corners and shies up on the right but they were wasteful in front of goal.
Glen wing back Calum Smith had to leave the field at this point with a back injury and was replaced by Ewan Menzies while Ben Hosie finally had to give way to Brad Dickson. Hosie had put in a great deal of effort all afternoon and possesses an excellent touch with the caman but the heavy park was not conducive to his style of play and as the afternoon went on it became clear it was not going to be his day. It was Fort William however who took the lead with a strike by Daniel Stewart in 60 minutes. By this time the Glen back line was beginning to buckle a little and the goal came about because of a mix up at the back and Stewart when presented with the opportunity made no mistake.
Despite going behind, the Glen kept their midfield shape and the three men in the middle resisted the temptation either to flood forward and crowd out the front men or to drift back and overman the defence. Euan Fraser, Ross MacAulay and Iain Macleod are all players who know what they are doing and eventually with Macleod in particular driving them forward with excellent hitting they breached the Fort’s defences when some excellent work from Brad Dickson presented Euan Fraser with a simple chance from close in.
Game on - and to hold the point the Glen consolidated both centreline and defence with experienced performers. Back to defence came Euan Fraser while Calum Fraser stepped back to midfield and all of a sudden David Smart put the Glen in the lead with a smart shot in 70 minutes. The Blairbeg crowd went wild and the Fort front men began to lose their focus in front of goal.
At this stage with Brad Dickson looking hungry and big Ross MacAulay moving forward another goal looked on the cards and come it did in the shape of an excellent drive from youngster Ewan Menzies who drove the ball past keeper Mackay high into the net for a glorious winner.
An excellent result for a team that all pulled together to grind out a result in what was probably the most competitive game the 2nd X11 have had for some years. Worthy of mention is Gary Smith who put in a solid shift at buckshee and Donald Fraser whose strength at the back was inspirational. Above both, however was Dave Emery , keeper extraordinaire. Dave had an excellent game and kept the Glen in the game especially in the early part of the second half when he pulled off a string of first class stops which not only prepared the ground work for the result but caused a great deal of frustration in the ranks of the Fort forwards.
The Newtonmore match? A disappointment and a defeat. The score can be recorded in the club minutes -it will not appear here. Lessons to learn? Without Arran , Rhino , a fit Lewis and of course EJ things were always going to be hard. The motto must be “Score goals, be direct and keep the collective nerve.” Newtonmore should have taught us something about competition and wanting to win. The Courier guy said the team played well enough and competed in areas of the pitch. A more realistic test will come with Kyles, Lochaber and Bute but we will still need to score.
Anyway on a more happy note-today’s pics- Booboo looking moody and muddy , Ewan cheery after his goal and -specially for the ladies, Monkey in the gutters.

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