Bruising Encounter at Blairbeg - Ooh Ya Bute-y!
Glenurquhart 1 Bute 1
This match was no classic but an action packed if somewhat dour encounter played in hot conditions with the Blairbeg surface providing some unforgiving bounces. On reflection from the Glen point of view it was a home point lost but at 4 o’clock on Saturday, the main feelings were not only of frustration but of relief. Clearly, the Glen were lucky to have come away with a point at all given the form that Bute keeper Kevin Queen displayed on the occasions he was put under pressure.
It could all have been so different if the early Glen attacks had had managed to hit the target but strikes from Neale Reid and Billy Urquhart sailed wide while it was Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh at the other end who had to be on his toes as Bute’s Robert Walker forced him to make a good save after hitting his shot on target.
Glen had an excellent opportunity in 23 minutes when a free hit was awarded after a trip on Billy Urquhart as he was about to break through on goal. From the set play at the edge of the D, Andrew Corrigan slipped the ball to Neale Reid but his drive was palmed away by the Bute keeper who was looking lively between the sticks.
The bulk of the possession went to the Glen in the first half although there were occasions when the strength of Hector Whitelaw up front allowed Bute to hold on to possession in attacking areas though when push came to shove, as with Hector it usually does, John Barr was on hand to clear the ball up front. The Glen front four played some superb interlinked shinty and one move in 42 minutes was top drawer in all but the final delivery. Andrew Macdonald drove the ball forward from defence to Eddie Tembo who flicked it through first time to Neil Reid who cut it back, also first time to Andrew Corrigan. Corrigan drew the defenders wide and knocked the ball in to Billy Urquhart but his shot, taken perhaps a tad too quickly, flew past the post and the chance was lost. The first half ended with a note of warning to the Glen however, as Bute winger John McCallum found himself in enough space to have a dig at goal but fortunately his drive was too high to pose a serious threat.
The early part of the second half saw Bute move more on to the offensive but again the story was one of defences on top and it looked as if matters were going to carry on in this vein until the 61st minute when a flare up in the middle of the park saw Bute’s David Whitelaw and Glen centre Lewis Maclennan both dismissed - Whitelaw for a foul and Maclennan for retaliation.
From the foul the reorganised Glen went on the attack but once again goalie Kevin Queen stepped in to make a good save from Billy Urquhart. Then at the other end the unthinkable happened : Bute worked a ball across to Hector Whitelaw who received it with his back to goal just outside the D, but such is the big man’s strength and determination that he managed to half turn and his strike went home to put the visitors into an unexpected lead. The goal lifted Bute’s spirits and shortly afterwards it took good work by Stuart Mackintosh to deny Stuart Strathie a second Bute goal.
The Glen however gradually came back and, though it looked for a while as if Bute’s last ditch defensive tactics were going to deny them justice, finally Calum Miller managed to get enough on a through ball from Andrew Corrigan to level the match. The Glen pressed on in an attempt to get a winner and some neat last minute play set up Eddie Tembo but his rocket strike from 15 yards was tipped over the bar by Queen. It proved to be the last significant action of the match.
Frustrating then and it is clear that the absence of David Maclennan in the midfield was a factor in the game as has been for some time the absence of Arran Macdonald and Paul Mackintosh whohave been injured. Today also the absence of Ben Hosie, carrying injury but also pressed in as sub for the Heroes at Fort William, was also perhaps a factor in the result.
The Heroes also drew but given they were venturing into enemy territory minus Iain Macdonald and Donald Fraser the result was much more acceptable. Indeed it gives them a real chance of fighting for honours by the end of the season
A tricky period now comes up what with holidays, seasonal work and the possibility of gaps in the programme – hard to believe that there are only 6 league games left for the top side.
Photos from this match were hard to come by but perhaps the mood is summed up by this snap of the squad showing their best side as they trudge in to the pavilion after the match. The other- a snap of the bruise caused to a faithful spectator by the Bute full back who hammered the ball into the crowd after the whistle had blown in an attempt to delay a Glen free hit. Careful guys, it might have been a bairn.