Friday, April 01, 2011

Five goals, rolling subs…one couldn’t ask for 'More

Glenurquhart 5 Newtonmore 1
After the upsets of the last week or two this was a welcome return to form for the Glen’s second team – and it has to be said that to get a victory over Newtonmore at any level and any venue is in itself no mean achievement. For the first time this campaign the red and blacks started out with a stronger squad-indeed one that allowed Hendo the luxury of actually rolling the subs.
Have to say the Wing Centre was not really a fan of rolling subs when the new ruling was first mooted particularly in the opening weeks of the season, such was the scarcity of resources on the bench. Well, you could hardly call it a bench: it was more like the sort of shaky stool you used to make in the Techy room and you could only sit on it because the Billac made all the proper joints for you. Whatever- it could only ever seat one- and now here was Hendo with two or three on the waiting list- and the thing about the rolling subs is that the rule is excellent for the youngsters. They go on-they play hard: they come off but their heads don’t go down because there is every chance that they will get back on again. Result-all the boys on the bench are fully engaged in the game. They are not hopping about and haphazardly smacking a ball off the pavilion wall, knowing that in their heart of hearts, they won’t see action unless someone is hurt. It brings a new dimension to the tactics of the sport provided that you actually bother with tactics in the first place.
Iain “Balbeg” Macdonald was at full back; big Donald “Dunain” Fraser was at Wing back and youngster Sam Cumming was on the other. Not only that but with Dave “Dixon” Maclennan on one side of the centre and Calum “Jock” Fraser was on the other , it was always going to be difficult for ‘More to get through to Garry Mackintosh in goal. Hendo did have youngsters on the field too and it was one of them, teenager Ewan Lloyd, who opened the scoring inside 5 minutes when a strong push forward by Lewis Maclennan was overlooked by the Newtonmore defence and the youngster tucked it home low at inside the keeper’s right hand post.
There was then a long spell of even play in which the Newtonmore side gave as good as they got without really putting Mackintosh in the Glen goal under serious pressure except on the one occasion when, having judged a shot to be going harmlessly past, the Glen keeper was surprised to see the ball come back off the post. Fortunately he retained the presence of mind to blast the returning ball off in the direction of the A82 and thence to safety.
New Glen signing reformed Crofter, Calum MacAulay ”rolled” on as sub in 20 minutes and from the start looked neat and lively : the lad has a nice turn of pace and in 30 minutes he showed the fans in the stand that he also knows where the goals are-a part of the geography of a shinty pitch which remains largely unexplored by native Glenners . With a neat turn and touch he made himself space before drilling home the Glen’s second- and giving himself a dream debut.
The goal galvanised ‘More into action and before minutes had passed Garry Mackintosh had to pull off a fine save with his hand to keep the Badenoch boys at bay but they were not long to be denied when after some neat work up front Ackie Macrae got enough room to blast home a low shot and open the scoring for the visitors.
It was a dangerous moment in the game. Newtonmore are a proud side: their seniors are simply the best side in the land at the moment (though judgement has to be reserved on Oban who also seem to be flying). Any obvious weaknesses in the Glen defence and the Blues would pour through the gaps like the wolves of Badenoch from whom they are descended. (Oops! Not really historically accurate-they were by no means as scary to Glenners of old as were Lochabermen)
It was as so often in the history of the Glen- a Fraser who turned the tide in our favour. Calum Fraser in 38 minutes moved on to the ball in the middle after a little slip forward by Sam Cumming and drove it long hard and high-into the net to make it 3-1 in favour of the Glen. Working in Beauly every day has clearly done the fellow no harm- though it is not a life style the Wing Centre would advocate for other Glenners.
The fourth goal came shortly afterwards and Fraser also had a hand in its creation when his long shy was gathered in by Lewis Maclennan who quickly moved it on to Iain Macleod who rattled it home with authority and sent the spectators off for their half time venison burgers for the first time this season with a spring in their step(s)
Following such a half was always going to be difficult- and so it proved to be for the second period was duller though Newtonmore pressure did force Garry Mackintosh to look lively on a couple of occasions to tip the ball over the bar when the sporting thing to do would have been to let ‘More have a goal. The final Glen counter came ten minutes before time when Dave “Dixie” Maclennan finished off a move by scoring-well a goal. Not a great one though Dixie told the Wing Centre that it was - so there is no point in describing it, it was that good.
Ref. was John Sloggie- and it has to be said he was up to the mark in every way. He let the game flow, was firm when he had to be and particularly showed how to handle the rolling subs. No fuss – let them come on-noted them down and got on with things: a contrast, one hears, with how nameless others deal with the matter.
At Kilmallie there was a disappointing exit in extra time from the MacTavish. A creditable performance in some senses what with Neale Reid’s late goal balancing out an earlier rather fortunate strike from Michael Rodger. Glen, for whom Stuart Mackintosh had his usual array of excellent saves, might have pinched it when they had a 15 minute spell of pressure towards the end of the second half. The extra period belonged to John Stewart who hit two goals and though Liam Girvan got one back, the game was eventually lost when as a result of pushing forward to grab yet another equaliser , Glen left themselves short at the back and Peter Macintyre took the chance that mattered.
This week the big game is in Badenoch-at the Eilean. So no pressure there then!

The pics today are nothng special but I do wonder what Hendo is saying to Fraser about Brad. Donald Fraser and Iain Macdonald are formidable foes to get past but in the background Sam seems to have an opinion.

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