Friday, March 11, 2011

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Glenurquhart 4 Fort William 7

It was a much changed Glen team that went out this week for the start of the League proper compared with the side that performed against the pride of Ross-shire last weekend. This week Hendo and Mike welcomed back to the fold Gary Smith, Gregor McCormack and Iain Macleod. Drew Maclennan made his first appearance of the season alongside his brother Lewis while Fraser Mackenzie (formerly of Lochcarron) and Craig Cameron were on the bench. Absent were Ewan Lloyd –out with a knee strain – Donald Fraser, Brad Dickson and Jack Hosie.
The top side down at the Fort had also made some depredations on Hendo’s pool of available livestock while the youngsters who performed well against Cabers were deemed as just too wee to be risked against Victor Smith’s Fort William team. The Fort side certainly does contain many youngster but most are in the upper teenage age group and as such probably just too mature for the Glen to compete against. However, James Hurwood started the match as did Rory Maclean and Cameron Maclennan while Lachlan Smith was on the bench with the two veterans.
With a low sun troubling the young Fort keeper, Glen started strongly firing up towards “Sandy Whyte’s” end and Daniel Mackintosh looked lively on what was an uneven surface. On a number of early occasions he attempted to nip the ball forward but the Fort backs were slick – and the pressure came to little. However Glen did go ahead in 12 minutes when a long drive from Lewis Maclennan dropping out of the sun deceived the Fort keeper who let it bounce past him into the net for the opener.
Veteran Michael Slezas equalised however within 5 minutes and the strike was no more than the Fort deserved though truthfully their front men did have a tendency to overplay the ball, a luxury that this year’s Glen side given the absence of Kelvin Mackenzie and Ewan Brady can no longer afford.
However the Glen centreline continued their barrage of high balls on the Fort goal and in 25 minutes Daniel Mackintosh having quickly switched wings broke wide on the right and played a nice ball across the front of the D but Fraser Mackenzie was unable to convert the chance.
Lewis Maclennan however sent another high ball in –this time on the goal- and as the ball broke back off the keeper, Billy Urquhart was on hand to ram home the rebound.
Next it t was Fort’s turn then to break away and a fine drive from youngster Ewan Campbell made the game even at 2-2. Parity did not last long however because ref Ronnie Campbell judged Glen defender Gary Smith to have kicked the ball and from the resulting penalty Daniel Stewart sent Fort William in at half time with a 3-2 lead.
Glen restarted the second period with a bang and within 5 minutes of the restart Billy Urquhart had helped himself to a second and brought the game back level. Better was still to come when in the 62nd meeting Gregor McCormack finally got a quality strike on target to put the red and blacks in the driving seat. And there they should have stayed.
Indeed Glen even looked for a while as if they would actually add to their lead and pressed hard but without coherence up front they found the Fort defence unwilling to yield. However it took a bit of careless play starting with the concession of a foul just about the penalty spot to let Fort back into the game. From the free hit the ball was touched to Daniel Stewart and with the marking not tight enough to matter he fired the ball past Garry Mackintosh in the Glen goals. There were precisely 70 minutes on the clock.
The game moved on for a further 15 minutes with any further score though it was clear to all that Fort were becoming stronger while the Glen defence and midfield were finding that the fitness and speed of their Fort counterparts gradually enabled then to get the upper hand. The games finished on a grim note with three late Fort goals - in the 84th 85th and 87th minutes- and without a marvellous reaction save by Garry Mackintosh of an Iain Macleod deflection the result could have been more embarrassing.
For the record the Fort William scorers were Daniel Stewart, who completed his hat trick, youngster Jack Fraser and veteran Michael Slezas.
Looking back on the game, it is more than probable that inexperience on the field in a variety of positions and perhaps too cavalier a desire to push men forward late on when perhaps the defence should have been shored up to protect what we had, led to a Glen defeat the size of which the first 83 minutes of play certainly did not warrant.
Still , it’s reserve shinty life but not as we have known it over the past three years. Let’s hope we don’t have to get used to it.
There is no intention of commenting on the first team match except to say that Ed had an excellent game – and he is still looking good in training.

Two photos this week- main one being Glenners leaving the field a little despondent. The Wing Centre? Didn’t even bother going down to the Loch Ness Inn for a plate of soup.

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