Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not such a good day for the Great Glen

Glenurquhart 1 Fort William 3 (Premier League)
 Lochaber 1   v Newtonmore 5 (MacTavish Cup Final)

Sometimes shinty gets to you: other times it’s just life that does your head in. They are not quite the same thing though you would be forgiven for thinking that for some in the Glen they were.  The Wing Centre, who has been resolutely hanging on to his “Reasons to be Cheerful” tee-shirt, finally has to admit that it’s not so funny after all.  A short week after beating Kingussie in the MacAulay Cup, Glen find themselves not carrying on from where they were last week but instead taking up from where they left off some weeks before  at Lovat – and from there heading on downwards. Downwards? Why so?  Because didn’t Kilmallie not go and take two points off league leaders Lovat, away from home and thereby nip past Glen on goal difference thus leaving us in a less than comfortable slot.

Still it has to be said that one can take delight in the honest pleasure on the faces of Fort bosses Towser and Peter when they realised with Gary Innes’s well taken third goal that they were definitely going to win a match that twenty minutes after the start they looked certain to lose.
There is no point in obsessing about it but if you don’t score your chances you are liable to regret it. Fort William? By half time they had one chance and scored twice. Glen started off as usual full of early vigour despite the last minute loss of Lewis Maclennan who injured himself in the warm-up. A series of early chances presented themselves at the top end, the best of them coming when Neale Reid’s drive came back off Fort keeper Paul Mackay but Ali Mackintosh was unable to convert the rebound.  Shortly afterwards a solid drive from Dave Smart was deflected for a corner and Mackay was on hand to thwart another attempt from a long ball from the centreline. At this stage Glen were going well with Eddie Tembo in particular and Arran Macdonald forcing the midfield pace.
Then Ryan Campbell scored against the run of play, out of the blue and without really meaning to. A Fort clearance went down the left hand side, Glen wingback Stuart Reid slipped on the greasy surface and Ryan patted the ball towards the goal – and somehow it went into the net past Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh.
Glen continued to press – but Fort heartened by their early unmerited success gradually did some pressing of their own- and then in 30 minutes Ryan Campbell nipped through the defence to score a second and that is the way it stood at half-time.
The second half saw Glen continue to push towards the shop end but Paul Mackay and the rest of his teammates kept the Glen at bay, though in the course of their defensive duties two went into the book  one of whom Mark Grant was dismissed for what one can only assume to be a second bookable offence.
John Barr who had spent his afternoon policing Gary Innes was called into the front line and yes- you’ve guessed it- Garry Innes hit a third.
So here we are three down in a game – and they have only 10 men- and as the Spean Bridge guys on their way to the MacTavish final in Inverness put it “The town were there for the taking.” They may have been but some Saturday’s the Glen don’t do “taking” though it has to be said that Glen’s James Macpherson fired home the goal of the day three minutes from time.
So what has to be done? Sometimes we just have to shoot- simple.

Given that it was MacTavish Cup final day the hot ticket was at the Bught where the fare on view was a side which we took to extra-time banging five goals against a nice stick playing side who never got started on the day. There is a moral there somewhere.
It just could be “take your chances.”
The Herald guy was there in the stand at the Bught and he gave the Wing Centre his original copy to use. This is what the original shorthand appears to say:
From the moment that Glen Mackintosh fired them into a first minute lead, Newtonmore never looked like slipping up in their attempt to bring the season’s first piece of silverware back to Badenoch. For lower league opponents  Lochaber, in their first ever senior cup final, that goal was just the start of a long afternoon trying to get back into a match that proved ultimately beyond them.
Newtonmore, the present Camanachd Cup holders, started powerfully forcing a corner in the opening minute. When the Lochaber defenders hesitated in their attempts to clear, Mackintosh first timed the opener home from an acute angle giving Lochaber’s teenage keeper Callum Macdonald no chance.
Newtonmore continued to press and were awarded a free hit on the left after defender back Bryan Macdonald brought down ‘More winger Chris Sellar. Centre man Paul MacArthur chipped the ball forward and Sellar, who was to cause Lochaber trouble all afternoon dodged his way through the defence to score his side’s second in 15 minutes.
To their credit Lochaber fought their way back but they found the big Newtonmore centreline trio of Jamie Robinson, Blair Mackintosh and Paul MacArthur too physically powerful to overcome and they did not get close enough to test ‘More keeper Mike Ritchie until just before half time when he had to look lively to thwart a snap shot from Ben Delaney.
Lochaber lifted their game but when Delaney beat Norman Campbell on the left but his ball into the D was safely cleared by Rory Kennedy before the inrushing Stuart Callison could make contact. Lochaber finished the half on the attack and on 42 minutes, Shaun Nicolson and Callison linked up to set up a chance for Delaney but his drive flew wide. Ben Delaney again threatened from the left and his pass found Stuart Callison but Ritchie blocked the ball with his foot.
After the break, a head injury to ‘More’s Glen Mackintosh saw him replaced by Danny Macrae – and though clearly hampered by the injury that saw him miss the starting line up his neat touch with the stick piled pressure on the Lochaber defence. The third Newtonmore goal came in 51 minutes when half back Steven Macdonald, who was ultimately awarded the medal for man of the match, hit a monstrous clearance which Lochaber defender Neil Macdonald was unable to clear. The ball fell to Sellar and he fired the ball home from distance.
Lochaber kept plugging away and in the 59th minute they got a goal back when internationalist Sean Nicholson who had found himself starved of supply finally managed to make himself enough space to drive the ball past Ritchie. It was too little too late however and Newtonmore further underlined the gulf between the sides when captain John Mackenzie fell upon a Danny Macrae strike which hit the post and helped himself to number 4 – and to rub salt in the  Lochaber’s wounds, Macrae himself made it 5 with a minute remaining.

Such a shame for Lochaber’s efforts to be reduced to 400 words of clichéd description- but it could have been different. A little more ruthlessness in front of goal; a little more steel in the middle and it might have turned out better for them.  But it didn’t – and so Duncan MacTavish’s silver rosebowl  is off back to Newtonmore for the 38th time- and the Wing Centre is not holding his breath for it or any other senior shinty trophy going to anyone other than the usual suspects any time soon.

Pics- Nothing from Drum just the MacTavish prog cover and one other. Never mind pics of the game or the result ,this is the moment these Macdonalds and Campbells on either side will share for the rest of their lives .

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