Thursday, April 28, 2011

First the team, then the sign, then the website: the whole Glen goes on the blink.

Lovat 1 Glenurquhart 3
Glenurquhart 1 Lovat 4

A week’s a long time in shinty- at least that’s what the back to back fixtures against Lovat proved though why had they to be back to back? –well that’s a question the answer to which only Astie knows. And then he goes and puts it out on Camanachd TV? Fair or what?
In the first game, things were as they should have been: goals from Calum MacAulay, David Smart and Lewis Maclennan put the Glen appropriately ahead and there was never any danger of a Lovat comeback but as this last week only serves to prove, you should never get ahead of yourself in Shinty. Such was the universal gloom that this result caused in the Glen that even the Club’s state of the art electronic sign (see pic) refused to function and thus the actual dimensions of the Lovat victory remained unknown and unremarked in the Glen. If it showed nothing else, this little episode-the malfunction in the sign-reveals the limits to solar power and there was not enough oomph in the old celestial body to permit the liquid crystals to display anything at all. What was worse, the Club website went on the blink as well-you couldn’t put this in a novel for no-one would believe you.
However, it should never have come to this in the first place. Despite the absence of John Barr, Eddie Tembo and Paul Mackintosh, the side that Glen had out were certainly good enough to win. Indeed Glen dominated the early period and both Lewis Maclennan and Calum MacAulay forced Lovat keeper Stuart Macdonald into pulling off excellent saves in the opening exchanges. Glen’s forward play was quick and brisk, the ball was moved quickly about but the appropriate opportunities were never actually fired in on goal in the manner they should have been. Indeed if Arsene Wenger had been in the home stand he would have surely recognised the ”Nasri, Walcott, Arshavin and Van Persie” syndrome as it was ably demonstrated by the Glen front men- lovely to look at, always impressive but when confronted by a determined Lovat backline - ultimately ineffective in front of goal.
Of course it was not the Lovat defence who won the game-though if the Wing Centre were to choose one player in the black and white squad who epitomised their spirit it was defender James Macpherson. He put in a splendid performance in front of the keeper and, given that dad Alan is a former and forever Glenner, then he was entitled to play like that.
Lovat indeed had hardly been out of their own half when they took the lead with a fortunate goal courtesy of Fraser Gallagher whose drive was going wide when it was deflected into the net by Greg Matheson. Glen were quickly back in contention however after another nice piece of interplay allowed Ruaraidh Cameron to get a drive in on the Lovat goal. The shot was well blocked by keeper Macdonald but the ball bobbled up off the goalie’s feet and was neatly knocked home by Neale Reid who was following up the shot.
The rest of the half went with the Glen but with the same result though both MacAulay and Reid picked up nasty knocks in challenges which bluntly ought to have earned the Lovat defenders a card apiece. They didn’t and by the end of the half, the Glen’s mobility up front had been reduced more than a little. Worse was to come however when in the final Lovat breakaway of the half Matheson took advantage of some uncertain Glen defending to score a proper goal and put his side in at halftime 2-1 ahead much to the disbelief of the Glen spectators.
The second half was less secure for the Glen but the Red and Blacks again secured territorial dominance for at least the first 20 minutes of the period – and at no time did the Glen support anticipate anything other than at the very worst – a draw. Gradually however –with chances missed and time going by doubts began to creep in. The injured front men began to be less effective and first Neale Reid and then Calum MacAulay were removed from the fray to be replaced by Calum Smith, who took up a role at wing back, allowing Dixie Maclennan to move in to midfield and then Calum MacAulay was replaced for a spell with the returning Liam Girvan. This produced a few more Glen opportunities but yet again these were not converted. Then, all of a sudden- out of the blue in the 80th minute, Greg Matheson, out wide on the right picked up the ball and fired a glorious drive into the net. It has been a while since the Wing Centre has seen a better struck goal. You are talking Dunky Kerr against Kingussie in a replayed Camanachd Semi: you are talking Gary Innes in last year’s Camanachd Cup final .Hit from an outrageous angle, the ball flew past Stuart Mackintosh and from that point on the game was lost to the Glen. Four minutes later with the Glen attempting to retrieve an impossible situation, that man Matheson added a fourth and in so doing put a gloss on the score which the true nature of the game did not reflect. Whatever! Matheson took the chances he was presented with and you cannot argue with that. It is certainly something the Glen need to learn to do.

Elsewhere the Glen Reserves appear to be having a struggle. A 4-3 defeat at home to Lovat – by all accounts a disappointing afternoon and then surprisingly a more creditable 4-0 loss to the Garry down at the Parc des Midges. Why more creditable? The Garry game featured a very young side with a number of under 17s and under 14s putting in an appearance and the return of veteran keeper Dave Emery. So well done to Lachie Smith, Sam Maclean, Rory Maclean, Cameron Maclennan, and Ewan Lloyd for stepping up into the squad and making a game of it.
This week the seconds have Kinlochshiel at home while the top side travel to the end of the known world all the way from Pictland beyond the lands of Lorne into the wasteland that is Cowal. The Wing Centre’s fervent wish is that they get out alive-for they are going into Campbell Country where no sane man goes of his own volition. While they are there they might want to have a wee look in the grass (and perhaps mud) at the bottom goal to see if they can find DP’s contact lens. It’s been there since 1979!
The pics? The sign which went on the blink- and the interested on-looker will be pleased to note that there is no mention on the road sign behind of either Lovat or Kiltarlity which is only right. The other one is of the boys stretching as they attempt to come to grips with defeat.

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