Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spot The Ba'

Glenurquhart 4 Newtonmore 3 (Sutherland Cup)
Glenurquhart 5 Kilmallie 1 (Premier League)

Spot the Ba’ eh? It was certainly true that to do just that was by no means easy for either of Saturday’s visiting keepers, Sean McQuarrie of Newtonmore and Kevin Toye of Kilmallie: between them these two lads lost nine goals and if it had not been for the fact that they both expended considerable amounts of energy keeping their respective goals intact them the Glen tally would have been much greater.
Of the two victories it has to be said from the Wing Centre’s point of view-the Sutherland victory over Newtonmore was the sweetest. Why? Simply said, Glen have unfinished business in that competition having had an excellent opportunity last year to put the said trophy in the Blairbeg Cup Cabinet (Yes! It does exist- and Roy, take note-it has been reasonably well occupied this last while)
However Hendo’s Heroes let the opportunity slip last session and while they picked up both League Title and the Strathdearn, this season they are a much changed team and so after a shaky start it was good to see them get back on the winning trail with two consecutive victories over Newtonmore. Of course it doesn’t mean that two such consecutive swallows make a shinty summer but it is a start. Indeed come to think of it when last did the Glen hold three straight victories –at both levels-over Newtonmore? Certainly not this century.
This Newtonmore team was certainly stronger than the one that visited Drum two weeks ago. John Mackenzie and Cameron Binnie were on the park and their presence alone plus that of Blair Mackintosh meant for a competitive game. For all that Glen had most of the opening pressure and on two occasions shots from Lewis Maclennan whistled narrowly past.
Glen’s breakthrough came in 17 minutes when a ball across the face of goal was picked up by Gregor McCormack and his low drive went emphatically home for the opener. Glen’s second goal came a few minutes later when Calum Fraser pounced on a loose ball out beyond the D and his fierce left hand drive left keeper McQuarrie stranded. ‘More were not so easily subdued however and they created their own chances which the Glen defence ably marshalled by Iain Macdonald had to be at their best to deal with. Alarm bells began to ring however in 29 minutes when good work by the Newtonmore centreline got the ball up wide right to winger Ross Aitken and his sudden strike unexpectedly found the net. An excellently struck goal but from such a wide angle and distance that he caught the defence unawares.
If Aitken’s goal was a shock the Newtonmore equaliser just after the interval was a greater let-down for the Glen faithful. Confusion reigned at the shop end and Ackie Macrae was able to infiltrate the defence and place the ball past Garry Mackintosh to make the score 2-2. With only 48 minutes on the clock and Newtonmore beginning to show their teeth in the tackle the game was poised on a knife-edge. The next 20 minutes or so settled down into a rather untidy physical battle though the addition of youngster Daniel Mackintosh to the front quartet did revive the Glen front line with his quick movement of the ball. Out on the right Calum Smith swapped heavy blows to the leg with Cameron Binnie and both were spoken to by Referee John Sloggie who also had a word with side-line’s coach for ‘More, Glen Tonkin. Glen had an opportunity in the 65th minute but Billy Urquhart’s drive flew over the bar. Then in 68 minutes Lewis Maclennan worked the ball out right to Calum Fraser who finished from inside the box but as he did so was felled by a carelessly wielded caman from the ‘More defence who were by this stage growing increasingly restless.
The introduction of youngster James Hurwood also pepped up the Glen forwards and he played the sensible ball at all times, moving it before he came into contact with an opponent and always looking for space on the wing. The next action of note was that ‘More's Brett Munro went, a little harshly, into the book for what amounted to a defensive block on Hurwood and then with Glen swarming around the top goals Newtonmore conceded a penalty amid scenes of protest. Lewis Maclennan kept his nerve and expertly sank the pressure shot. Game over? You would have liked to think so but no- Newtonmore kept on going and two minutes from time Chris Sellar got them back into the match with another easy goal. Just as well it was two minutes from time-any longer and the Glenners would have been unable to sustain their own energy levels and would thus have safely avoided The Garry in the next round. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
Except that very afternoon at about 4.45 it seemed that we could have everything. Kilmallie had been defeated by 5 goals to 1 and Glen forwards at Premier level had not scored 5 goals since that memorable afternoon back in the dear departed swine flu days of May 2009 when Kyles were put to the sword in similar fashion. Somehow looking at the Kyles results one doubts whether we will be doing that this year: though if they can be beaten like that at Blairbeg, how come they can make it into a Camanachd final. On second thoughts-think not on that. That way madness lies.
Glen did however have some divine intervention on Saturday. Kilmallie’s John Stewart had been over in the Western Isles at a wedding. The mist , which had rolled up Loch Ness on the Friday night and then rolled out again on the Saturday morning, did not roll far enough away and thus the Stornoway plane to Dalcross could not land and John was left on the Island and to his fate. His presence and that of Fraser Massie was sorely missed.
What was pleasing for the Glen was that the forwards seemed to click right from the start and Ruaraidh Cameron’s opener was a splendid affair. Neale Reid, whose physical presence is growing with every game got on the ball out on the left and turned it back to David Smart. Smart slipped it in to Calum MacAulay and his touch through was superbly finished off by Cameron. Glen then proceeded to dominate the match and played a great deal of slick interpassing shinty which had the crowd in raptures. Cards on the table though: on two occasions the ball should have gone into the net and the Wing Centre, born as he was in another age, prefers a simpler more direct game which, though less artistic and less aesthetically pleasing, is to his mind more effective- but then that is only feasible if you have a player like big Ron Fraser up on the dust.
No matter, Glen dominated the half-David Smart was excellent- but did not get their second until not long before half time when the pacey MacAulay opened his account for the Glen by driving a ball on goal from the edge of the D. It squirmed through the keepers legs and just over the line but with Smart following it up Toye had no chance to scramble it away. However, the frustrated keeper felled Smart as the Glen forward turned away from goal and were it not for the fact that Ref Deke Cameron had already moved away having given the goal then the lad would surely have been carded.
The second half saw Kilmallie come out fighting and Liam Macdonald pulled one back with a neat finish just after the interval. The same player then had an excellent chance to level the game but he just pulled his shot wide and the Glen breathed again.
The match continued to seesaw back and forth in this manner – and as always congratulations are due to the Glen backline especially keeper Stuart Mackintosh for his handling of matters at the sharp end. However, as time ticked on the Red and Blacks gradually seemed to gain the upper hand and finally they made the game safe with two goals in quick succession –Cameron in 62 and MacAulay in 64 before a final strike in 73 from Neale Reid convinced Kilmallie that further resistance was futile.
An encouraging result then but as always one that must be built upon. It will count for nothing if the lads slip up-against the Crofters, as they can do- over on the Common Grazings next Saturday. Teams are having a hard time over there as Fort William can testify, and so the Glen have to be on their guard.
As he went home after a satisfying afternoon at the Shinty the Wing Centre had only one little twinge of disappointment. What a pity Russ couldn’t flash up the score on our newly installed energy efficient, solar panel powered electronic scoreboard. Really! Yes really! The first in Scotland –powered by green energy- truly a sign of the times.

The pics ? Some action shots from the games- clearly a goal at the top end and EJ in action. Can you spot the ba'? A really good one of Ruaridh (thanks to Mick Evans)
The team-

the official one from the Website (thanks once again to Mick ) and the one the Wing Centre took himself with the old guys still in it.
Calum and Daniel? Well believe it or not that's them smiling. Their Mams will be pleased. But check out the cool boots!! Wow.

And the lower picture? Saturday morning and the Wing Centre and DP were booraching about on the hill. The pic shows how bonnie the Glen is but it is placed here to show the mist (they call it "fog" in town) that closed the airport and caused John Stewart to miss the match.
This was as far as it rolled up the loch. Imagine how bad it was in Dalcross! Peter Jackson and the guys will definitely believe you now, John

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