Tuesday, October 04, 2011

They think it’s all over : it is now. Thank goodness!

Kilmallie 1 Glenurquhart 1 (North Divison 2)

Isn’t it strange how a day which starts out rather dull can turn out to be not so bad after all? No? Well if you don’t think so then you ought to have taken a trip with Hendo and his tribe down to Kilmallie last weekend. It was raining in Drum, damp at Invergarry but would you believe it-dry in Caol- and though the pitch was heavy and indeed gloopy in the middle, the new pavilion was coming on nicely. Not so bad now is it?
The Kilmallie crowd were friendly- even Fort William’s former great Ali Clark was allowed to watch the match unmolested- and in the end the Kilmallie team were remarkably generous. How so? Well if you read on you will find out, but truth to tell the Wing Centre does not feel that they meant to be but then it’s the actions that count.
For this match the Glen welcomed Garry Mackintosh back in goal-poor Dave Emery is now in plaster after the ‘Shiel game and is likely to be so for the next 4/5 weeks - and Ian Macdonald took up his place at full back. Also back on duty on his return from injury was big Donald Fraser while the work commitments which prevented Liam Girvan making the trip to Oban, at least permitted him to turn out for Hendo and just as well too. Kilmallie also beefed up their side by popping Kevin Toye into goals and also making use of Peter Macintyre in the front row.
When the game started it immediately became clear that it was going to be a long afternoon for the Glen. The heavy pitch and longish grass made it obvious that this was to be a game where the emphasis would have to be on moving the ball quickly and hitting it far and long- and it was Kilmallie who had the early edge in this respect and they pinned the Glen back for the first 20 minutes or so. The defence stood firm however with Iain Macdonald, Donald Fraser, Ross MacAulay and especially Gary Smith digging in, standing up to the physical challenges and clearing their lines. The few Kilmallie attempts were either wide or high or indeed easily disposed of by Garry Mackintosh. However, the ground was so heavy that in this period practically the only time the Glen made incursions into the Kilmallie half came after long hit-outs by Mackintosh but despite the best efforts of the young centreline they were unable to keep the ball up in their opponents half long enough to threaten seriously. Liam Girvan and Billy Urquhart did work an opening but Urquhart’s snap shot was well saved by Toye.
Then Kilmallie were awarded a penalty. The lad put it past the post. Then a few minutes later Kilmallie were awarded a second penalty. This time Garry Mackintosh saved the shot. It was at this point that – metaphorically at least - the sun came out for the Glen. They began to push forward a little: Ian Macleod moved back deeper and things began to improve.
At wing centre James Hurwood and Bradley Dixon who had been doing well when they got onto the occasional ball now began to thrive, with Hurwood in particular picking out Ewan Lloyd on the right wing. On several occasions Lloyd won the ball well and moved it swiftly forward, though the sticky mud and slippy surface meant that even after he had moved the ball he was vulnerable to a late challenge. He took a few hits which began to take their toll and just on half time he was replaced for a while by another youngster Jack Hosie.
However the Glen weren’t out of the mud yet because three minutes into the second half Peter Macintyre put Kilmallie into a 1-0 lead when he ran onto a through ball on the left and pushed it home from close range.
On the side line the hearts of the Glen faithful sank. To avoid relegation a point was required: at this early stage in the second half even a single goal looked beyond the red and blacks. But then as so often happens, the whole mood of the game changed - and for the rest of the half the Glen with Iain Macleod and Andrew Macdonald beginning to dominate pinned Kilmallie back though they found keeper Toye in top form. He impressed the Wing Centre as a young man cool under fire and time and again he stopped goal attempts and cleared his lines without looking stressed.
Finally after drives from Stuart Morrison, Jack Hosie, and Billy Urquhart had been blocked, Liam Girvan got the goal that mattered. Girvan had looked particularly dangerous for the previous ten minutes and had had one drive blocked by Toye a few minutes earlier when he inadvertently pushed the ball too wide to the left before getting his shot away, giving Toye plenty opportunity to get his angles right. This time however a long ball forward by Iain Macleod was pushed into his path and he fired the ball home from close range to even the score and give Glen their invaluable point.
So that was it? Not quite. There was in fact in the 92nd minute a third and final penalty but
Garry Mackintosh saved that one as well. Phew! That was a close one. Relegation is officially avoided.
The Kilmallie guys were remarkably laid back about the result though their mood was probably down to the fact that Ronald Ross’s late winner for Kingussie against Lovat at Balgate had saved their Premier side from relegation.
“Some player that Ronald Ross,” said big Peter. “The 85th minute. Just when you need him up he pops with the killer goal”
From the way the guys were smiling there is every chance that Ronald will get an invite to the Kilmallie dinner dance and there is a fair chance too that he’ll get a special award for “Services to the Club” He would be sensible to accept too because these guys look as if they know how to party too which is something Ronald won’t be doing in Kingussie at least for
another year.

“By the way,” said Peter “your first team won in Oban. 3-1”
And that was how the day turned out even better.
Then Drew sent me the picture of the guys in a queer strip - pink - and even the cat laughed. Have a look yourself.

The Oban goals? The first from Neale Reid who pounced on a rebound from a shot by John Barr; the second came after a ball up the wing was moved out by David “Chips” Smart to Barr. He held the ball, played it across where Reid won the tussle with the defender and finished well. Then Smack played hurley, caught the ball and Oban pulled one back from the penalty spot. Glen’s final goal came via Dave “Dixon” Maclennan who capped the afternoon with a welcome goal although the unlucky Oban defender whose heel it deflected off will not be using that adjective-probably.

The main picture is of Liam. He looks pleased. His Mam will like the picture. He is even smiling.

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