Friday, August 21, 2009

Caber’s Youngsters Clobbered by Hendo’s Heroes .

The silence has now officially ended and the Wing centre has decided that the sensible thing to do in times of strain and trouble is to accentuate the positive- and what could be more positive than the comprehensive 5 goal victory against the young lads from Spa-town. Not that you would call Marty Maclean, the well-ancient Cabers keeper a youngster any more but to be fair to him he put in a good shift which helped to moderate the score .
The other impressive Caber’s players were genuinely young wing back , Declan Wilson , who was hard and determined in the tackle and Garry Maclennan whose attitude and interest in the game –he travels down from Skibo each week to play- is an example of what is good about the game.
The Glen opener came early in the match when wing forward Ewan Menzies latched on to a through ball from big Arran Macdonald and fired it home from about the penalty spot. The second strike came from Iain Macleod (he was to put in a double shift because later on he was called to help out against ‘More). Some neat work in the midfield and a pass inside from Ewan Brady and a touch back from Calum Fraser left Macleod with a chance on the edge of the D which he converted.
In between those chances which were well finished , the Glen created a host of opportunities around the edge of the box and even inside it but Maclean simply stopped the shots with body, feet or club and his all-round menacing appearance persuaded some of the Glen youngsters that after all, perhaps the ball ought to be his anyway.
Not that Cabers were a bad team. There were plenty times when they cleared the halfway line and penetrated the Glen backline only to come up against stout resistance from Glen defenders Ian Macdonald and Donald Fraser. Indeed such was the strength of the defence that keeper Garry Mackintosh had so little to do that some reports indicate he was seen eating a Jaffa-cake during the match.
The final Glen strike of the first half came from Calum “Jock” Fraser who after a corner had been taken in 42 minutes converted a difficult shot with a swift strike. Calum has been scoring regularly all season –doubtless he will tell the Wing Centre how many he has actually got up till now- and it has to be said that the way he converted his half chance in the Sutherland semi will probably stand as one of the Glen goals of the season not because it was spectacular but because it was sharp, understated and clinical which is always what is needed.
Elsewhere on the park Clan Smith was to the fore: Gary was his usual effective self while Calum gave quite an assured performance as a Wing Centre himself and showed that he has what it takes not to be fazed when the going gets tough. He took a nasty whack after the ball was away- made nothing of it which is always to be recommended- and continued at the same pace afterwards. Dave Smart showed all his touches- he just loves to gather , carry and work the ball- but his shooting was slightly off while Ewan Brady, as always had his exceptional moments.
The Glen finished the match in style with an early second half goal from Calum Fraser who tucked home a ball from close range just after the restart and then Ewan Menzies got his double with a long low shot which eluded Maclean in 67 minutes.
There was no further scoring and the game lost its way a little after that and it was a shame that the fans were deprived of a chance to see a final front line display from Ben Hosie but, given that he was due to leave Glen shinty for a year on a sports scholarship in the USA , it was as well that he sat this one out.
A pic with Ben receiving a wee presentation from the Chairman is appended to the Blog - as are snaps of the goal scorers and one or two other wee treats. The biggest of them is the following table.

1. Glen 14 12 2 0 56 11 26
2. King 15 11 1 3 57 24 23
3. Fort 12 9 1 2 47 13 19

This table makes good reading – and provided the field is playable immediately after the Games what the Heroes have to do is keep their nerve on the run in. At this stage of the season the Club must make this the priority. How The Heroes have avoided reaching the finals of the Sutherland and the Strathdearn remains a mystery.
The afternoon game was a disappointment though Lewis Maclennan’s opening goal in 10 minutes raised Glen hopes -falsely as it turned out. Indeed the opening minutes as always saw the Glen pour forward and created three early chances which deserved a better fate. The Glen goal when it came was a long range effort which moved in the air and beat ‘More keeper Mike Ritchie leaving everyone rather unfairly wondering how he could have let it in. Easy, it was swerving and clearly came out of the sun and any shot which stays up for a long time can trick a keeper. Ritchie isn’t the first and will not be the last to lose a goal like that.
As was to be expected Newtonmore lifted their game and fair enough the aggression. John Barr was the victim of a heavy challenge from Danny Macrae which went unpunished by ref Deke Cameron and from the resulting advantage Glen Mackintosh levelled the tie from close range in the 18th minute. Three minutes later, Paul MacArthur fired in a ground shot from 15 yards out which took a nasty bounce off the hard Blairbeg surface past Stuart Mackintosh to give the visitors the lead.
From that point on while it was true that the Glen were still in the game, the truth was that Newtonmore's control of the midfield grew ever stronger. That is simply all that is to it. Newtonmore dug in and physically won the centre and you have to say that with big, strong long hitting determined players the League is theirs - if, and it’s a big if, they can deal with Ronald Ross. They managed it in the MacTavish but there was more than a touch of good fortune there since Paul MacArthur’s wonder goal looks like a one in a season.
You would have any of the ’More boys in your team but the pick of the bunch for the Wing Centre at any rate was buckshee back Fraser Mackintosh who had an outstanding match .
It could have been so different though because in the 42nd minute, the Glen broke through and missed a simple pat home from close range with Ritchie nowhere. The ball came off the bar and from the clearance the ball was bashed upfield to Danny Macrae. That was the Newtonmore way all over the field and we could and should learn from them.
Macrae leaned over the ball, used his strength to hold off defenders who in a less gentle day should have grassed him and fired the ball over to Glen Mackintosh in acres of space with ample time to slot home from five yards leaving the keeper with no chance. Ooh the irony of a boy called Glen scoring in the Glen against the Glen - old Sandy Russell would have had a laugh.
The second half was a waste of time from a Glen point of view. Evan Menzies found the ball at his feet after a clearance struck Danny Macrae and he stuck it home and then Glen Mackintosh got his third. Glen heads were down; ‘More hearts were high but they won the game because they can finish well and were physically too hard for the Glen centres to hold. With Norman Campbell powerfully back in business on the D and Owen Fraser playing extremely well at the back they are a competent outfit.
To play them on a sticky Blairbeg - the grass was a problem for the short passing game - the Glen would have had to adapt to a hitting game. Anyone going into a tackle with Danny Macrae or Norman Campbell will get steamrolled; Paul MacArthur will run and run all day-he was excellent, while Fraser Mackintosh is never going to be beaten by players trying to dribble past him on the tight Blairbeg park - you have to knock it by him and keep him running.
Can Fort William beat them? It is possible with big Macphee and Gary Innes in the midfield but will Fort want to play that intensely when they have the Camanachd final to look forward to and the League is beyond reach. ‘More ought to go top if they want it enough.
Will they beat Kingussie? That is the big question. The ‘More team the Wing Centre saw were a team of mortals – big, strong, good hitters with one very good finisher - and a clear number of players coming back from or succumbing to injury. However, Ronald Ross is unplayable - but Glen Mackintosh is not; the fate of the League depends whether the other Kingussie players have the bottle for the battle.
It should be an interesting September. Enjoy the pics especially the one of Donald Dunain in his run around. Don’t Hendo and Big Mike look pleased? Well perhaps Mike does-Hendo still wants more goals!! The other snaps show the guys who got two goals each-Jock and Ewan while the Wing Centre was intrigued by the 'More choreography before the match. Are these guys going to surprise the Irish by doing a version of Riverdance?

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