Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lochaber men fail to reive the Glen -yet again

Premier League Glenurquhart 2 Lochaber 1

North Division 2

Glenurquhart 3 Kinlochshiel 0

The opening Glen goal came quickly in this Premier match. From the initial centre won by Lewis Maclennan the ball came wide to Neale Reid. He slipped the ball round the wingback and slid it inside to Andrew Corrigan who drew the Lochaber full back towards him before sending a pass out wide right to Billy Urquhart. Superbill-we now have to call him that - clipped the ball first time low past Lochaber keeper Angus Morrison. There were 38 seconds on the clock- and after worries about swine flu all week, it seemed a perfect opening to a game for the fans of the Black and Reds. Indeed even if wee Annie herself had been there in the Cattlethieves colours, she would have been delighted at such a clinical finish though she would never have admitted it.
If only the game had stayed in that vein- but sadly it didn’t.
The Glen did show up on top however for most of the first half hour with Billy Urquhart and Neale Reid looking at times as if they were going to run riot while Lewis Maclennan played the full centre role to perfection. The superb timing of his first time hits not only lifted the pressure on the centreline time and again but also placed the Lochaber back division repeated pressure .A few saves from Morrison plus a ball over the bar from Billy and a fierce drive into the side net from Neale Reid were however scant reward for all the Glen dominance in this period. There also began to grow a tiny suspicion that this Lochaber side were a team that could play good efficient shinty-no team managed by Ally Ferguson or Duncan Kelly was ever going to be poor-and if it were not for the fact that Andrew Macdonald, Ally Mackintosh, Stuart Reid and especially John Barr were fiercely competitive in their defensive tackles the Lochaber forwards might have had more time on the ball and thus had more opportunities to test Stuart Mackintosh. At this stage they did not though that was to change later in the match.
The turning point came in the 30th minute when Glen Wing Centre Dave “Dixon” Maclennan received a nasty head wound in a tackle. No blame to the Lochaber lad- the exchanges between the pair were always hard and quick in a match where the ante was gradually being upped- and Dixie was unlucky in that particular exchange. Up to that point, Dixie had just been on top in a very close contest but it was clear that the head knock was quite severe and so the match was held up until an ambulance could be called. The game was stopped for upwards of 15 minutes and when it restarted the Glen somehow got straight into top gear once again and how. With Andy Corrigan back in the centreline and Calum “Rhino” Miller on at full forward, the ball was hit out again to the right of the “D” where the big forward threw off the attentions of the Lochaber fullback and smashed the ball fiercely into the net to put the Glen two up.
From that point on in the restarted opening half the Glen began to wane a little: the wing centre picked out Lochaber buckshee back Neil Macdonald as the most obviously inspirational player. He stuck close to Eddie Tembo and gave everything in the tackle and truthfully began to influence things at the back to the extent that when the ball did come up the Glen forwards were able to make it stick up front less and less. Equally sharp was the right wing back and the class of Shaun Nicholson began to show through. In fact he brought a series of excellent saves out of Stuart Mackintosh of the sort the crowd loved to see and of the sort that made Shaun himself put his hand to his head in disbelief. But then if Shaun were to think about it for a moment he would reflect that “Smack” is a superb goalie, that saving these shots is what he is there for and after all, since Shaun was having to shoot from miles out it proves his forwards were not able to get anything on goal off the Glen back four. So they were good saves but nothing came back from Smack to set up the Lochaber forwards and one feels that even if it did the defenders would have smashed it away.
John Barr was at the heart of this defensive operation which was bolstered in the second half by Andy Corrigan moving into the defence where his speed added to the security and peace of mind of the management duo, while Ally Mac went into the centreline.
About halfway through the second half, Eddie Tembo came off and Gregor McCormack went on at right wing forward. From that point on the Lochaber pressure began to ease since the Glen began to hit the ball down the right hand channel and Greg was able to make it stick up there for longer than had been the case at the start of the game.
The Reivers’ camp followers on the far side also attempted to play their part and loudly protested every Glen challenge and it is with a hanging head that the Wing Centre admits that he began to do the same- shouting “kick” when it wasn’t, shouting “foul” when it might not have been. It’s the same old scenario that he wrote about in a National League game at Lochaber two/ three years back though at that time-there being so few spectators, it was the players who were doing it. Who would be a ref?
In the end young Zander Ferguson got a late goal back for Lochaber though from where the Wing Centre was stood it appeared that he kicked the ball first before he hit it in from the right. To be fair to him the Lochaber goal judge put up his flag at the time of the incident though he would be wise to say in Lochaber that he was simply acknowledging the goal. In the Glen we feel he was calling it right and fair play to him if he was. Whatever happened the goal stood but with 85 minutes on the clock Lochaber were unable to pinch a draw.
Not an easy match then but a satisfying win all the same against a team which took two points off the League leaders Fort William on Day 1 of the Premier season.

Earlier the Heroes kept up their winning streak with a 3-0 victory over a competent Kinlochshiel second squad. It took until the second half however before the Glen managed to make the onion bag bulge though a fair number of first half chances were wasted by the Glen or saved by the Shiel keeper. The break through came just after the interval when Calum Fraser finished nicely after being set up neatly by Stuart Morrison.
Morrison himself was next on hand in 50 minutes to put home a penalty awarded after Calum Fraser had been pulled down in the zone. Finally youngster Ewan Brady added to his impressive recent tally of goals by sinking a penalty granted after the ball had been kicked in the box by a Shiel defender .

One of this week’s pictures has its own charm- were the Lochaber men planning a long weekend away from home? They certainly took enough luggage with them.

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