Yippee!! Glen beat Crofters in the Premier League!
Nothing but pride at stake – come on Sgiathanachs who do you think you’re kidding? The real issue at stake the other Saturday was whether the Glen would come out ahead of Lovat in the race to be the most successful club in the Aird. Beauly don’t count: the Glasaich we don’t speak about but Lovat –they have been a little bit of a thorn in the flesh of both Glen sides over the last year or two so it was good for the Heroes the other week to win the Div 2 title playing against them and then of course for Barr’s Boyans to cruise past Ronaldo and the mighty Kings just to deny the black and whites the civic reception that would have come from being the top club in the Inverness District.
And what a game it was. Glen were somewhat under strength with Billy Urquhart out with a back problem while Kings had James Hutchison back in the fold as well as Ronald Ross and Ricky Grant, who were coming back from suspension.
Kings clearly wanted to avoid defeat and for them to finish third in the table they needed to avoid defeat by three goals or more which was not a result that even the most ardent Glen fan would take a bet on.
Glen made their usual whirlwind start and this time the fast opening resulted in the first goal of the game in only 2 minutes when a Neale Reid shot came back out at an angle off Kingussie keeper Andrew Borthwick and full forward Calum Miller coming in from the left hand side fired the ball into the net for the opener. It has to be said that Miller, though he did not add to his tally, had an enormously effective game against Kingussie’s former international wing back Ally Macleod who had no answer to the big man. Miller simply gathered the ball in, held it up and then played simple balls into the box which against a less formidable defence than Kings- Ronald Ross was playing at half-back- would lead to goals.
Kingussie responded with an attack of their own, but the pattern for most of the game was set quite early with the Glen quicker to the ball to the extent that Kingussie did not get either the time or space to settle into their normal rhythm. The pressure of the Glen midfield, with John Barr dominating the centre and Reid, Eddie Tembo and Lewis Maclennan harrying the Badenoch defence meant that the visitors were hassled into mis-hitting out of defence and less than assured delivery from midfield. Indeed if it were not for the efforts of Louis Munro, to keep his head when all about were in danger of losing theirs then the Glen would have gone even further ahead.
At the other end, the Glen defenders in particular Stuart Reid and Ali Mackintosh were on top form and the Kingussie forwards found themselves under pressure immediate enough to undermine their normal confidence and they found themselves unable to create anything worthwhile though Ryan Borthwick did cause a scare for the home fans when he was brought down as he brought the ball in on goal. Claims for a penalty were however dismissed by both goal judge and referee and the sides went in at half time with the Glen clinging tenaciously to their lead.
It is fair to note however that in this half Borthwick was by far the busier of the two keepers.
With Borthwick substituted by Rory Fraser at the turn, Ross moved back to full forward for the second half and he needed just five minutes to bring the sides level. As always the big man is hard to tie down and the Glen defenders allowed him to move deep to the half forward berth without tight enough stewarding. Picking up the ball just beyond the penalty spot and slightly left of centre he unleashed an unstoppable drive past the helpless Stuart Mackintosh in the Glen goal. It was a trade mark drive from the country’s player of the year but that was his lot. Full back Stuart Reid then tied him up for the rest of the game and although he subsequently unleashed a shot or two-Ronald always will- there was no further scoring from shinty’s own superstar.
At the other end however the Glen continued to threaten and in the 72nd minute they hit the jackpot when Lewis Maclennan fired a high dropping shot on goal which was stopped by Borthwick but the ball fell to Neale Reid who ran in from the left and smashed the rebound home from five yards and followed up the goal with an extravagant somersault by way of celebration.
Kingussie never really looked like levelling though they did mount some pressure which the Glen defence were able to handle with reasonable aplomb while at the other end Calum Miller was unfortunate not to extend the Glen’s lead when he had a late opportunity but failed to convert.
So a happy end to the season then with Barr’s Boyans finishing in a creditable sixth place in the league two points ahead of Lovat whilst Kingussie did enough to merit the third place - ahead of Kyles Athletic but only on goal difference
But what about young Mr Reid? He can do a standing somersault (see the pic): he gave Lee Bain a difficult afternoon (see the other pic) – and ex Glen Urquhart High School pupil Bain has had a superb year being one of the best of the King’s defenders this season. Not only that but young Reid found the back of the net 4 times for the Glen’s second string last weekend, when they finished the season with a draw at Shiel. How come he is not in the under 21s at least?
Anyway the answer to last week’s question is stay down-so Glass stay up which is a neighbourly way to end the season. Thanks to Neil Paterson for both pics- they are as always excellent.
Check out his stuff at www.neilgpaterson.com/