Friday, May 22, 2009

Urquhart Scores Twice for Glen but Hendo’s Heroes Score More.

Glenurquhart 2 Lovat 1 (MacAulay Cup)
Newtonmore 1 Glenurquhart 6 (North Div 2)

It might not last for long so making hay while the sun shines is a sentiment Saturday’s defeated Crofters would share. At the moment Glen shinty is living in dreamland. The top team negotiated a tricky MacAulay fixture against a Lovat side which never gives up by 2 goals to 1 while the youngsters put 6 goals past Newtonmore on the Eilean.
“When was the last time a Glen side put six goals past a Newtonmore side at the Eilean?” asked Mr Calder
“Not since a while -a very long while” was as accurate an answer as can be got in the Glen and given that we don’t have John Willie or Joe Taylor on hand with their note books then we are not going to find out. Indeed it is doubtful if Rab Ritchie himself is old enough to remember.
The good thing about Lovat as far as Glenners are concerned is that they are not Strathglass - and they bring with them a nice crowd of visitors over the hill. In fact the two sets of supporters get on extremely well – and if it wasn’t for the fact that the Treasurer likes a wee constitutional round the field himself he would probably let Mary Ann do the collection for him. Indeed she would probably be more persuasive and attentive to the collection than he is: half the time he’s watching the game over his shoulder and the other half he is pestering people who have obviously no money like backpackers and the subs for the other team.
This week the Glen started with a revamped front line with Eddie Tembo, Ben Hosie, Neil Reid and Billy Urquhart as the front four while Lewis Maclennan took up the full centre berth. He was specially chosen to go up against Ewan Ferguson, whom everyone on this side of the hill knows is the key player in the Crofters side, given that he is actually a real farmer like Girv.
Like the Glen with Arran Macdonald and Paul Mackintosh missing, Lovat were without the injured Martin Bell and Fraser Gallagher but it has to be said that the absence of these players on both sides did not spoil the game as a spectacle.
Glen were as always fast out of the blocks and were quickly firing the ball up into attack. The first strike of consequence came in five minutes when EJ regaining his Ireland form, fired a ball, albeit narrowly - over the cross bar from about the penalty spot. In the end the miss did not matter because soon after Neale Reid fired a sharp shot in on the keeper and Billy Urquhart was quickly in hand to ram the ball home from the rebound.
Reid now surely looks back to the form he was in last season - numerous times he got past his man in the tightest of corners with little flicks and bursts of speed. All he needs to do now is hit the target himself a couple of times and the Glen will surely be on their way.
Also performing well was Ben Hosie: his touches opened up the play and his stepovers and dummying of the ball on a dry hard pitch had Lovat’s James White is a tiz for most of the early part of the game.
Glen went two ahead after wing centre Ali Mackintosh fired a free hit up from – again Billy Urquhart was on hand to tuck the loose ball away in 11 minutes. For a moment or two the Wing Centre thought that perhaps he was back at Kirkton last season when the Glen racked up 4 quick goals against ‘Shiel. However, Lovat are made of stern stuff. They never give up and when Raymond Rennie nipped off his marker controlled the ball neatly and tucked a low strike inside keeper Stuart Mackintosh’s right hand post it seemed like game on. By this stage Lewis was tiring in the midfield and the thought was beginning to grow in Glen heads that this might be one of Lovat’s “get out of jail “days.
Except it wasn’t because when the second half began Eddie Tembo shifted into the full centre berth ostensibly for ten minutes and Lewis went up front to the forward role he is well suited to play.
Lovat did not really show in the second period and the fact that Glen did not score was down to a series of extraordinary saves from Lovat keeper Stuart Macdonald. Within 15 minutes he saved three marvellous strikes from Lewis Maclennan two with the feet and the third was an instinctive poke over the bar of a ball that ricocheted off a Lovat defender’s stick and seemed net bound all the way till he turned it over.
Later still Ben Hosie did some neat juggling with the ball in the heart of the Lovat defence but his drive whistled past. In the end it was Glen who went through but while Lovat could have rescued something if luck had been with them, the absence of Fraser Gallagher and Martin Bell was too much for them to cope with.
While all this was going on Hendo and Mike’s crowd of kids and grandpas were having a memorable day down in Badenoch. From what the Wing Centre heard the backs could have taken their snowboards down and got off the bus at Aviemore for all the use that was made of them.
The story of that match was as follows: Boy wonder Ewan Brady opened the scoring in 10 minutes and in 12 Brad Dickson found the net only to be ruled off side.
Newtonmore’s Chris Sellar equalised in 29 before the Glen were awarded a penalty. Stuart Morrison took the penalty but his shot was saved by 16 year old ‘More keeper Douglas Gray but fortunately Ewan Brady reacted quickest and hit the rebound home.
Finally in 36 minutes young Brady got his hat –trick with an accomplished finish.
If the first half belonged to Brady, the second was the property of Calum “Jock” Fraser. The big striker was quickly on target two minutes after halftime and he then brought the Glen to a tally of 5 goals in the 52 minute. Hendo then used the first of his young subs when he swapped Calum Smith for Ewan Menzies. Jock completed his hat trick with a fine goal in 65 minutes and at that point Hendo put on youngsters Sam Cumming and Ross MacDiarmid for the two other young forwards.
Despite some frustration from the ‘More players (read between the lines!) and who can blame them- the Glen held firm and both Iain Macdonald and Ian Macleod had excellent performances. Macleod in particular had an especially hard tussle with ‘More’s Cameron Binnie but given that both were Premier players last season then that was to be expected.
If the D is to give credit to any player who does not wear the black and red it is to 16-year-old keeper Douglas Gray. He had an excellent second half and thanks to him the Glen were restricted to a mere three goals after the break.
Commiserations to Garry Mac though. He as usual played well but he lost his clean sheet. Shame!
This week’s pic. The Wing Centre was too busy blethering to remember to take a snap of two-goal hero Billy Urquhart when he was walking off the field. By the time he got inside, Billy was in his birthday suit, which is why the snap had to be cropped.
Indeed, if we can get any sponsors then there is every prospect of a Calendar. If the ladies of the WI can do it, why can’t the Glen? And before you start, just don’t bother sending in any reasons to the D.
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