Friday, May 11, 2012

Even Stevens?

Glenurquhart 3 Kingussie 3  (Premier League)
Kingussie 3 Glenurquhart 3 (North Division 2)

A perfectly balanced score sheet-home and away. The result for the seconds in Kingussie was a mirror image of the game at Blairbeg- and if it had been last session with Stevie Borthwick in charge of Kingussie then the headline would have been doubly apt. As things stand he isn’t, so the headline is merely accurate.
So what about the games? You’ve got to go with the youngsters since they were playing away from home. We’d seen the Kingussie seconds in the washout game and certainly they have the “legends” in the team Rory Fraser, Michael Clark and John Gibson. And in case anyone starts querying the word legend when applied to Mr G let’s remember he has Camanachd Cup final appearances under his belt and, if the Wing Centre’s recollection has not dimmed with age, scored in one of these wins and then flew off from the pitch in a helicopter, which makes him count as a legend in this author’s opinion.
Manager Iain Macleod was delighted with the performance of his young side- and to be fair after a pre-season struggle with lots of talent but no goals suddenly things are very much healthier. By all accounts it was an excellent game of shinty
Both sides were young with experience in the right places. The Glen, as is par for the course, were down a few players: Ross MacDiarmid has a niggling injury so he was rested; Ewan Fraser is also injured and needing more time to recover. With Calum Smith off shore and goalie Cameron Maclennan away on holiday drastic action was needed. It was taken. Into goals came last season’s custodian Gary Mackintosh – and boy was he needed.
Kingussie who were solid in defence were very sharp up front with youngster Savio Genini the pick of the bunch and before long Gary Mackintosh in goals was earning his mention in the annals of the D with several excellent saves. He was to maintain this form throughout the match and quite frankly kept his Glen colleagues in the hunt.
The difference between the sides was that in the first half Glen took two of their chances-both Jack Hosie and Daniel Mackintosh hit the net-and Kingussie didn’t take theirs.
Kingussie came out strongly in the second half and quickly pulled one back  to make it 2-1. Glen however buckled down to the task and when Daniel Mackintosh grabbed his second of the afternoon hopes were high for an away victory. Kingussie then started to play some lovely shinty, showing some sharp, fast play up front. The Glen defence were excellent particularly goalkeeper Gazza who had lots of good saves and dealt with everything off his feet well.
The loss of Drew Maclennan half way through the second half forced Glen to make changes throughout the team. Donald Fraser who is having an excellent season once again had a cracking game at full back against Michael Clark. Bradley Dixon played tirelessly in defence, and James Hurwood again excelled at wing centre and latterly wing back.
Euan Lloyd started the game well, playing the half forward position but injury cut short his involvement in the match. Jack Hosie also had a fine game , scoring a good goal and tackling well right to the full time whistle. Overall the manager was happy with the result and the performance but would have been naturally more content if the lads had held out for the two points.
Though given the absence of Ross MacDiarmid  and the premature loss of Drew Maclennan the Glen had a struggle in the back line at times to hold on to what they deserved to take from the match.
Still with the boys down after the game because they did not win it certainly shows they are growing in confidence as a squad. With a bit of luck and the avoidance of too many injuries Manager Macleod and his young Glenners should manage to build on everything so far and really start to make an impact at this level of shinty.

But what was happening back at Blairbeg?
More or less a game of two halves is the message being given out from both sides. Glen played well in the opening period but went down 1-0 to a strike from Ronald Ross. The Black and Reds fired on and dominated the first half with the forwards moving the ball about neatly and Fraser Heath was alert enough to snap up two half chances as the first ball broke back from the Kingussie defence. As always the story was one of missed Glen chances and if things had worked out as they should have Kingussie ought to have gone in for their halftime oranges with a bigger margin to chase in the second half.

As it was the tables were turned in the second period and when Martin Dallas equalised as early as the 50 minute, the fans in the shed had to suffer as the visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of the pressure. Eventually 7 minutes from time Ross popped up with what the Badenoch half of the crowd believed to be the winner but Glen grabbed a point saving equaliser in the last minute when Billy Urquhart first timed the ball into the net after Kingussie keeper Andrew Borthwick had made a fine save from the initial drive.

Right at the end of the match Lewis Maclennan was red carded via a second yellow card after an incident with Kingussie defender Iain Borthwick who also received a yellow for his involvement in proceedings.
Now there is obviously a possible point of debate here- and perhaps the TV highlights-which have not been posted yet-will make things clearer.   Even if it did would it change matters? Not really. Sure we get roused over shinty but with UBC going down – and with it a lot of peoples’ livelihoods not so far from home-then perhaps losing a point at Blairbeg isn’t such a big deal after all.

Pictures from Neil Paterson of the game- and the snaps are chosen to focus on the completeness of the Glen connection. Lee ? He went to Drum school and if the local poachers had left any stags in the Glen to be" kept" then he might have had a job here and been playing for us,.Plus one other from Hugh Dan’s collection of iconic shinty photos - EJ taking on the whole of Ireland. Look! He’s carrying the same black and red stick as Paul Fraser did last week

Hope the rain lets up.

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