Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Glen pay heavy price for penalty failures

The headline is such a no-brainer that even the Courier went with a version of the “P” word  but what really galls the Wing Centre is that he got up this morning to a lovely day in the Glen but the fact remained unchanged that the boys were still out of the MacTavish. The climate may change - though not quick enough to save the bedding plants of the new Glenners who indulge in what is known on Balmacaan Boulevard as “English” gardening - but Glen are still out of the cup. Unless you are a Calvinist and believe in some kind of predestination – it did not have to be like that. There were chances there but sadly they remained untaken.
Still it was an occasion in which was good to be involved. A good crowd at Blairbeg, the most successful team in shinty over the last year or two being pushed to the limit- and then we lose the penalty lottery - though truth to tell we really need to start scoring these penalties sooner rather than later. The malaise has also spread to the wee team who also missed a spot-hit on Saturday but more of that later.
The opening exchanges of the match were even and if it were not for the fact that your reporter is inclined to see things through a black and red haze then he could freely admit that in the early stages Newtonmore probably shaded things. Their defence were cleaner quicker hitters and Glen through balls did not stick up in the ‘More defence for long enough to satisfy the Blairbeg faithful. However when the opening goal came in the 18th minute it fell to the Glen. The robust Newtonmore defence conceded a foul out on the left and defender Fraser Mackintosh lost contact with his direct opponent Fraser Heath and the youngster shot the ball home to put the Glen into a 1-0 lead .
The rest of the half continued in a similar manner but as the minutes ticked away towards halftime the general tenor of the game began to move ever so slightly in Newtonmore’s  direction and the Glen were fortunate not to lose a goal when Paul Macarthur missed a clear chance about the 35 minute mark. There were Glen attacks however but direct strikes on Mike Ritchie’s goals were not common - though a series of excellent long shies from Arran Macdonald caused panic from time to time in the ‘More back line.
Glen held on until just before the half time whistle when they shipped two goals. The first came when Paul Macarthur broke through on the right and was allowed time to pump over a high ball right across the D where it fell to Glen Mackintosh. He took a second to steady himself then first timed it high into the net. An excellent finish yes - but a goal which was possibly avoidable.
Worse was soon to follow when from a ‘More free hit, Mackintosh prodded the ball forward to the edge of the D and Jamie Robinson found himself with space enough to knock the ball home from close in to put Newtonmore in at half time with a 2-1 lead, though another Arran Macdonald long shy at the top end presented Glen with a half chance which they failed to convert.

If the first half belonged in some measure to Newtonmore, the second period showed the Glen in a more dominant role. The first thing required was an equaliser and that came in the 59th minute when a long shy by Arran was knocked through by Fraser Heath. The ball came to Eddie Tembo whose shot on goal was half blocked and landed in front of Billy Urquhart on the right and he swiftly clubbed the ball past Mike Ritchie to even the match up.
That was it for scoring though by common consensus the Glen had somewhat of the upper hand with Lewis Maclennan at wingback keeping Glen Mackintosh in his place. The arrival of John Mackenzie up front for Newtonmore gave them more physical presence though he did not add to their powers of penetration. Like Newtonmore, Glen also rotated subs in the hope of making a breakthrough but chances to wrap up the match were scorned at both ends.
What can be said about extra time? Not much except that Glen gave as good as they got and on more than one occasion the chance was there to finish the match. Newtonmore however stood firm and if Norman Campbell at the back is more or less the best in the business ,Steven Macdonald is not far behind. These lads were prepared to put their bodies on the line for the win and they did so. For the Glen, Fraser Heath was excellent as was Arran Macdonald whilst John Barr was supreme at the back. Everybody else put in their full effort and the Glen were fit enough to last the pace well. Both goalies surprisingly had little to do though what housekeeping they did undertake was effectively handled.
The penalties? Glen missed: Newtonmore scored enough – and so when the record books are written up and future MacTavish programmes are published, the name of the Glen will not appear.
Next Saturday Glen play Lovat over at the Croft for the first time this season: it won’t be an easy trip given they’ve had a week off and doubtless after our bruising game we’ll be carrying some injuries but we do need to put up a show - and certainly stop them hitting the net.

The Sutherland Cup tie was a clear win over Beauly 5-0 and it has to be said the youngsters were a little apprehensive about going over the hill because in the pre-season friendly they struggled to achieve. However within half an hour they were five goals to the good thanks to a hat-trick from Jack Hosie, a stunning strike by Ewan Menzies and a fine goal from Ross MacAulay. Jack’s goals?   All finished neatly from close range but with superb composure.
So what happened then? The game deteriorated especially in the second half. Glen had sewn up the midfield and the service to the front men was excellent.
The game took a nasty turn towards the end of the first half but tipped over when Beauly’s Martin Davidson had an encounter with Glen full back Donald Fraser and after a swung arm the Beauly full forward was sent off. Glen then tried to play the extra man as a second half back so as to ensure the goals were kept intact to prevent Beauly from getting back in. Glen also opted not to push someone forward and crowd out the forwards but they never really utilised the extra man. However no goals were conceded and the Glen held on comfortably to the end to their five goal lead. Glen did however miss the traditional penalty, awarded for an incident that saw the Beauly keeper very lucky to survive on the field. Beauly also missed a penalty though why they did not give the strike to recognised striker Sean Stewart is a mystery on this side of Culnakirk.Player wise for the Glen Donald Fraser at the back was once again unbeatable. Solid, strong and determined, everyone gets confidence from him. Ross MacDiarmid and Bradley Dixon were both steady and gave their usual 100 per cent.
A special mention must be given to Duncan Fraser. He had his best game of the campaign so far and now he is holding that wing back position well. The centre line of Drew Maclennan, Calum Smith and Ross MacAulay were always in charge and in truth won the game for Glen in the first half. Good games too from Daniel Mackintosh, Ewan Menzies and Ewan Lloyd but the star of the show was Jack Hosie. He scored a terrific hat-trick and worked hard the whole time he was on. He is skilful, fast and strong in the tackle and as one of the squad’s best trainers and has an excellent attitude.
However Glen also need to learn from this game. Retaliation is totally unacceptable and the side picked up two yellow cards because of itDoubtless Glen will have many more physical encounters and although it is important to stand up to intimidation, retaliation is counterproductive as all it does is get you booked or sent off.
Beauly? They need not to lose the rag and play their shinty. They are quite good at it although you would never have known that in the second half on Saturday. Youngster Ryan Mackay at buckshee looks a player but gets himself too much involved as does wing-centre Connor Ross. They need to ignore comments from the side-lines and get on with the game in the way the No 8 Davie Groat did. He took a lot of verbals from the side as the match got tousy but ignored it all. He looks to have big game temperament and if the rest of the green guys had taken a leaf out of his book they would have done much better.
Saturday’sother game against Lovat will be interesting but no doubt that will be not only another day but also in the light of knocks to the seniors, a completely different team as well .

Pictures come courtesy of Neil Paterson (

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