Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Friendly Fire

Beauly 3 Glenurquhart 0 (second teams)
Glenurquhart 0 Fort William 1

The first trip of the season over the hill to Beauly is as always….. well……. a trip. Not that the Wing Centre has anything against Beauly except in as much as it was from there that Mrs Wing Centre’s family originated-fortunately only on the one side.
Of late Beauly has been much dug up and difficult to get into and so the decision was made not to venture into the interior thus avoiding the chic niche shops favoured by the female of the species and merely content oneself with dumping the household rubbish in the bins at Braeview . It seems only right to a Drummer to do this.
Not much separates the two villages: they both have underachieving shinty teams. The Glen Chemist comes from Beauly while the Beauly optician comes from the Glen which seems a fair swap but there is one crucial element which hints at the differing character of both settlements. In the Glen, geese are domesticated: in Beauly they are wild -and there are lots of them.

That was certainly a thought to be born in mind as the match got underway between the Glen youngsters and a Beauly side which included some lads from the upper side.
As always the Beauly crowd were friendly and the game itself was interesting and illuminating. Certainly given the time of year, the pitch needed it all- though it is difficult to agree that the layout is as satisfying as it used to be of yore when the feeling was of more space.
From a Glen point of view there was satisfaction that for the third week in a row there was a full squad available- and though the Glen were slow to start by the middle of the first half they had a spell of dominance. Drew Maclennan at buckshee back was in particularly good form-his tackling is consistently excellent-and James Hurwood was always successfully involved at his side of the field. Prize for consistently high work rate went to Bradley Dixon while Dunc Fraser and his brother Ewan also showed up well in their spells on field.
Beauly failed to penetrate in the first half and goalie Cameron Maclennan showed good reflexes to stop a powerful Beauly drive. Indeed his play was consistently effective throughout. Ross MacDiarmid too was tidy in what he did and showed an ability to read a game which will stand us in good stead as we progress in what will be, given the retirement of a number of our veterans (not to mention the promotion of others to the top squad) a young team. Big Ross MacAulay did fine in the centre as did Donald Fraser both in defence and up front when he went there late in the game.
The youngsters, who played up front supporting the hard working front man Calum Miller, did well enough too: Jack Hosie, Ewan Menzies and Ewan Lloyd all looked good on what at times on what was for them a difficult and sticky pitch. Daniel Mackintosh had a second half run out up front and fired some good balls forward but by that time the Glen were beginning to wilt and he had to track back too deep to be a genuine threat in front of goal. Of course the difficult conditions are the same for both sides and Beauly had the edge where it came to hitting, and as the match moved into the second half the home side gained the upper hand eventually running out 3-0 winners thanks to strikes from Scott MacLean, Calum Morrison and Jack MacDonald.
While the margin of victory was perhaps a little hard, the Glen really must learn to score when they are on top- but if the positive attitude from the players is maintained then the side should make some progress though make no mistake, it is a hard League to play in with kids. Doubtless we’ll find this out in Skye at the end of the week.

Back over the hill the main point of difference was that Blairbeg had dried out well enough for the surface to be shinty-friendly. On an equally positive note it was good to see both Eddie Tembo and David Girvan getting a little time on the field in competitive conditions after some considerable absence.
Glen opened well enough in the same groove as they had been in during earlier friendlies but they found the Fort William backline a very different proposition from their previous opponents with quality defender Duncan Rodgers in particular two levels above anything they had met earlier. The game was fairly even in the first half, the one difference being that about the 30 minute mark Gary Innes worked himself free at the shop end and fired home the goal that was to be the winner.

Glen certainly pushed and worked hard but were unable to create clear cut chances. Partly that was down to good Fort defending but it was also down to not being effectively aggressive enough. Smarter, faster, harder is the only way without being silly about it-but then the guys should know that already.
Fort William are apparently down a number of quality players but chaps like Alex Duncan and Steven Stewart on this performance will step up to the mark in the course of the season. Niall Macphee had a strong game as had Bryan “Boob” Simpson and if Mr Innes can co-ordinate his lifestyle to turn up regularly then reports of Fort’s demise this season are very much exaggerated.
Glen’s disappointment in the second half was that despite some excellent interplay between the forwards, they failed to adequately test keeper Paul Mackay though it’s a fair bet he would have kept out most direct attempts. Disappointing too was the carelessness in some Glen set plays and basic drills like shies. An injury to Neale Reid occasioned his replacement midway through the half-but Liam Girvan who took his place put in a sound performance-without hitting the net. Best for the Glen on the day were David Smart and Fraser Heath.
The important thing in a friendly is not what the result is but how well it has prepared you for the campaign to be faced in the days and weeks ahead. For the Glen after the heady results of the week or so before, it is a reality check. Premier League teams are in the Premier League because they are the best in the business- as Kilmallie will attempt to prove next Saturday. We had better be ready for them.

Included in the pictures is the Wing Centre’s most favourite ever picture, taken in Beauly in 1991 with the Balliemore and London Shield winners together.The suspicion is that not since 1922 has such a snap been taken in Beauly. For the others taken in Drum thanks must go to Neil Paterson whose generosity helps give the D an occasional touch of photographic class. Many thanks Neil. He is to be found at Have a look!!

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