Disappointing Glen lose out to Lovat in Sutherland
Glenurquhart 1 Lovat 4
At 2.30 pm on Saturday as he sat in the Balavil hotel in Newtonmore eating sandwiches and looking out the window into Main Street, the Wing Centre was praying for the rain to stop. By 4.45 pm at half time in the Sutherland Cup final with the score at 1-1 and supposedly everything to play for, he began to wish there had been a strong and steady downpour. By 5.50 pm the chance of an appropriate weather window had gone and with it the Sutherland Cup. Why so? Simply because the only way it seemed that the Glen forwards were going to beat young Lovat keeper Chris MacCallum on that particular afternoon was if the rain had clouded up his specs so he could not see –anything.
It was a depressing day to be in Black and Red. Things began to go downhill from the opening 20 seconds when Glen got off to a nightmare start, one that Lovat even in their wildest dreams could not have hoped for. Problems were compounded with 10 head stitches for Glen captain Dave Smart inside 4 minutes; then came an injury to Ruaridh Cameron just before half time which changed the pattern of the game- and it all ended up with the goal that never was! And yet...and yet for the first 45 minutes the Glen were in the ascendancy.
It had of course started badly. Right at the outside the ball was played wide right where a slip on the wet turf by Glen wing back Andrew Macdonald allowed Lovat youngster Greg Matheson to fire a speculative shot on target from distance The shot was blocked with his legs by Glen keeper Gary Mackintosh but the ball bounced back into the path of Lewis Tawse who burst forward and popped it into the net from close range.
Bluntly that was all that Lovat showed in the first half. From that point Glen had them pinned in their own half having taken a strong grip of the midfield despite being down to eleven men for a good 15 minutes as Smart was stitched up at the side of the field. Glen subjected the Lovat goal to a barrage of shots with Kelvin Mackenzie outstanding in his role on the left wing. Ewan Brady also had an excellent match and Ruaridh Cameron was at the heart of most moves hitting the post on one occasion and performing a keepy-up run down the right which will shine on the BBC Alba credits for the next five years. However at the heart of the storm stood Lovat’s eventual man of the match Chris MacCallum. So laid back as to be almost horizontal he stopped everything that came at him even if at times the ball struck him when he was unsure of where it was. Some of his clearances out were not to safety but when the Glen returned the ball it went high and wide. High and wide too were a number of other attempts and it was not until the first period that Ruaraidh Cameron cut the ball back at the edge of the D for Mackenzie to hammer it home to put the sides even.
The second half was on the back of that an anti-climax. With Cameron unable to continue, the decision to switch David Smart to the forward line in retrospect turned out to be an error. Lovat solved their centreline problem by switching buckshee back Alan Macpherson to full centre and he began to play a bigger part in the proceedings.
It did not take long in the second half for Lovat to get their noses in front. Jimmy Mackenzie cutely flicked a ball through to Jamie Matheson who pulled it wide left but left it for his brother Greg who put his side in the lead with a finish from a tight angle.
Just 4 minutes later, Lovat extended their lead when Greg Matheson returned the favour to his brother when he flicked the ball forward into the D to create a chance for Jamie who beat keeper Gary Mackintosh to make it 3-1.
Glen could have pulled one back straight from the throw up when Kelvin Mackenzie flicked the ball across the face of goal but a pile of Lovat bodies stopped the ball going in somehow .
However it was the Black and Whites who sealed victory in 77 minutes in controversial circumstances when Greg Matheson claimed to have knocked the ball over the line. As he turned away in celebration, Goal Judge Laurie Skudos awarded the goal although the benefit of television replays showed that defender Andrew Macdonald had cleared the ball on the goal line.
Glen had one last flourish when Kelvin Mackenzie who had an outstanding display fired a high shot on target in 89 minutes but MacCallum was once more equal to the task proving he was well worthy of the title of man of the match.
For the record out of a pool of 19 the Glen used substitutes Ewan Menzies, Ewen “Boo Boo” Fraser and Stuart Morrison while Iain Macleod and Iain Macdonald were booked. For Lovat, skipper Jimmy Mackenzie went into the book early in the match for a wild swing at back Calum Smith after the youngster had won the ball in the air.
Beyond that the veteran played well and when Lovat decided to hold what they had he filled in effectively for Gordon Kelly at full back who had it is fair to say, effectively denied space to Glen’s Gregor MacCormack for the most of the afternoon
For Lovat youngsters Michael Mackenzie and Connall MacilliChiar caught the eye while David Smart,Ewan Brady, Kelvin Mackenzie and in the first half, Ruaridh Cameron performed well for the Glen on a day that did not delight.
Neil Paterson has provided the two action pictures and the team photo is of the Glen side on a happier day.Neil can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and his website can be viewed at www.neilgpaterson.com/
The real task for the players now - and particularly for those in the pool who did not get a start on Saturday - is to put the experience behind them, show commitment to the Club and then move on with the rest of the season.
But what on earth is the Camanachd Association doing putting on a second team match in Skye at 2.30 on a day when the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival is taking place just over the hill from Drum. What a nonsense! If they can shunt some shinty arrangements because of Ross County playing in a football match – a dispensation which did not apply to the Glen - then commonsense ought to have been afforded this fixture. What was wrong with a mid-week fixture? An early start at least for youngsters who want to go to Belladrum should have been the least that was expected. Why are the Skye seniors not playing at 2.30?
Doubtless there will be a reason.