Saturday, July 21, 2012

Magic Moment at Fort – but two priceless points gained in Bute

Fort William 2 Glenurquhart 0 (Strathdearn Semi-final)
Bute 1 Glenurquhart 4 (Premier League)

You can look at it either way- a devastatingly disappointing afternoon or an opportunity to see something magical. The Wing Centre isn’t sure but let’s go for the magical angle first. You are two nil down in a semi-final, Fort are pouring forward with every intention of putting a stranglehold on a game they should never have caught by the throat in the first place when something marvellous happens. A ball comes into the D and Fort’s Graham Campbell is less than a yard from goal when he catches it on the shaft of his stick and directs it point blank at the goals. A definite counter- but no, Cameron Maclennan on the goal line , going the wrong way, twists back, gets his hand to the ball somehow and pops it over the bar. Unbelievable save but you’ve just seen it happen. Magic! 

But that was as good as it got though the appearance of Harry Potter’s Choo-Choo puffing along the embankment by the Black Parks seemed to hold out the promise of more supernatural happenings but it was not to be – and there was nothing left for the Wing Centre to do but to try out the old line that you can always use in Fort William or Mallaig or Aviemore for that matter. You know the one. “I knew you were behind the times here in Fort William or wherever, but I did not know you still had steam trains.”

Of course they smiled but theirs was the smile of folks who knew they were already in a cup-final and they were simply humouring a loser. How true that was.
This was the second time in a few weeks Glen lost in a semi-final, a feat they managed last year as well- and it has to be said that this last weekend it was a particularly disappointing occasion.
Glen opened strongly and in the opening few minutes a number of chances fell to the forwardline which they failed to clinch though to be fair Fort William keeper Cal Brown also had a good save in the air from a drive by Ewan Menzies.

Fort’s first attempt went close enough a drive pulled past by Graham Campbell but the big full forward made amends in 10 minutes when he blasted home the opener from close range. From that point Fort William were in the driving seat as they poured forward into a Glen defence that rather struggled to cope with the action. Cameron Maclennan was on hand to deal with a few difficult shots but Fort were really rather wasteful firing drives high wide and not especially handsome until the Glen faithful almost began to believe that they would survive unscathed until half time. Glen then came back a little and forced a couple of chances which again failed to go home. Escape was not on the cards however  because in 37 minutes Fort’s Jack Fraser rasped home number two from an angle and were it not for Glen keeper Cameron MacLennan’s heroic effort it would have been three before the half-time whistle went to give the Glen a chance to regroup.
Glen made a couple of changes at half time so as to strengthen the midfield and try and provide service for the forwards which was lacking in the first half. This strategy worked  and the red and blacks did get on top creating three chances in a row – for Calum Miller, Jack Hosie and finally for Daniel Mackintosh but all three remained untaken and Fort William held out to win 2 0.
It has to be marked down as a disappointment even although Cameron Maclennan in goals had his magic moment to prevent Fort going 3 nil up. Donald Fraser worked hard, covering for his wing backs who struggled at times against Fort’s  “Opportunity “ Knoxes , Scott and Alan and “Jack the Lad” Fraser who were fed by good hitting up by Sean Cameron and Jamie Cruickshank  on the short pitch. In the second half this was not so evident as Ewan Menzies played well when he went to wing back. Bradley Dixon again worked hard for the team but things did not go as well for him as they have done in earlier matches. Other lads put in effort certainly but sadly things did not click: it might have been so very different if Drew Maclennan   and particularly big Calum Smith had been available but they weren’t- so we lost out on the day. All the best to Fort William in the final.
Doon the watter, the top side did themselves a Premier League favour taking two points off a Bute side that are a fair team. They may not have won much away from home but they don’t give away points or goals easily. Glen scraped past them at Drum via a superb goal from Lewis Maclennan- and the guess is - it may be wrong - that the reason that four goals were scored down there was because Hector Whitelaw had been pushed forward to get a goal.  That is not to downplay the other guys but it is quite simple - Hector is big player and in the collective mind of shinty players everywhere he is synonymous with the Bute defence. When you take him out of there then the opposition feel they have a chance. Rubbish? Perhaps, but he can also get you a goal-so it’s a fine judgement for Barry Martin. Sometimes it will work-sometimes it won’t.
Having talked to some of the players after the match the best that can be said is that the local paper  The Buteman  contained a report of what happened –and here it is :

Bute Shinty Club’s senior side were forced a step nearer to relegation from the Orion Group Premiership on Saturday after Glenurquhart scored three times without reply in the second half to complete a 4-1 win at the Meadows.
Bute had got off to the perfect start with just six minutes on the clock when John Beattie met Roberto Zavaroni’s cutback with a neat finish at the near post.
But the visitors levelled matters in the day’s only Premiership fixture when Neale Reid sent a low drive into the bottom corner of the net midway through the first half.
Glenurquhart had three good chances to extend their lead just before the interval; all went unconverted, but that all changed less than a minute into the second half when Reid held off the attentions of Bute’s Hector Whitelaw before laying the ball off for David Smart, whose low strike gave the visitors the lead.
Glenurquhart keeper Stuart Mackintosh pulled off a superb stop to prevent Roberto Zavaroni netting an equaliser in 57 minutes - and Mackintosh then recovered brilliantly to deny Robert Ferguson from the rebound.
The visitors made the most of that narrow escape when Reid drilled home Fraser Heath’s lay-off to make it 3-1 midway through the second half.
The loss of a third goal knocked the stuffing out of a Bute team already low on confidence,
 Glenurquhart had several chances to put the icing on the cake before Smart added a fourth in injury time after he was picked out in acres of space at the back post.

After the match, as can be seen from the snap taken at the ferry terminal the lads were in party mood. Still the Glen are not out of the woods yet. We shall see if they can escape this week.

Scottish Blogs