Friday, August 03, 2012

Summer Nights

Lovat 5 Glenurquhart 3 (North Division 2)
Summer shinty! You can’t beat it on a warm evening when the midgies decide to stay away and you are on first name terms with the entire crowd. In fact the only thing that took the shine off the night was that Lovat managed to win: it was certainly a most entertaining game, and the presence on the side-lines of a group of Newtonmore guys had the Glenners wondering to themselves “What are these guys doing here? Could they be planning a party up at Norman Campbell’s caravan at Corriemony? Could Brett be showing the lads round the old Munro croft? “
Seemingly not. It turned out, as the Glenners were to learn after the event that if the Glen dropped a point then Newtonmore would win the league. If only we had realised that at the start we might have bothered to take a full team over the hill.
 As it was Glen started without Calum Fraser, Donald Fraser, Jack Hosie, Ben Hosie, Drew Maclennan and Ross MacDiarmid while Brad Dickson was working and could only make it for half time. Despite that Glen had a bit of early pressure and it was clear that big Calum Smith at full centre made a huge difference to the hitting in the middle.  Unfortunately nothing the Glen hit goal ward could get past Jamie Matheson in the Lovat goal and in 18 minutes that old warhorse Fraser Gallagher fired one home at the other end. Now Fraser isn’t really a war-horse and he isn’t really old, it’s just that he looks old when you see him alongside the bairns in the Lovat team– and if he had been lucky he might have scored a couple more in that spell but Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan first came off the line and pulled off a great stop, then made himself big and a further shot at goal was blocked.
Glen did make forays up field but found Matheson as good at keeping the ball out of the net as he had been at scoring in previous seasons- and then just before the break a ball came into the Glen box – and everyone but everyone had a chance to hack it away, failed to do so and it was left to Rory Campbell to poke home the simplest of chances.
Brad Dixon came on at half time and a little shoogling about with the formation saw the Glen with an opportunity to work their way back into the game but Fraser Gallagher had other ideas and he made it 3-0 just after the restart thanks to good work by Lewis Tawse.
What is it about being 3-0 down that makes Glen play better?

 Suddenly the guys came to life. Good determined work from Iain Macleod forced the ball forward on to Matheson and Liam Girvan was on hand to open for the Glen by knocking in the rebound.
Immediately afterwards Ewan Lloyd scored after an excellent bit of Glen interplay. James Hurwood moved the ball forward where it was picked up by Liam Girvan out on the left :he laid it inside to Lloyd who provided an impressive finish to a move which had class written all over it.
Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan then pulled off a superb stop to deny Gallagher and then suddenly Glen were level.  Ewan Menzies picked up the ball out on the left from the inspirational Iain Macleod and turning inside fired home a strike from all of 25 yards to make it 3-3.
Trust Gallagher though – he poached his third of the night a few minutes later to make it 4-3 for the home side and set up a grandstand finish. Glen poured forward in waves. Liam Girvan was first denied by a fine save from Matheson then the cracked one just over the bar. Calum Miller came up full forward and he too fired a rasper on goal which made Matheson look lively. Lovat pulled Gallagher back to full back and held on desperately conceding a series of corners which the Glen were unable to convert.

 The moment had passed and Lovat moved onto the offensive for the last few moments  when former Glen under-17 Graham MacMillan, who had put in an excellent shift in the Lovat front line, brought two good saves out of his one-time colleague Glen keeper Cameron Maclennan. Cammy the Keeper could do nothing about Lovat’s final goal though which was tapped home by Lewis Tawse after some neat work out on the right by Rory Campbell. A disappointing score line for the Glen in the end because a two goal margin was somewhat harsh, though Lovat could have been forgiven for believing that they should have scored more in the latter part of the first half when the Glen were a bit unfocused in defence.
All in all Glen put in an excellent performance with Calum Smith, James Hurwood and in the second half, Bradley Dickson the pick of the bunch. Lovat have a host of young players who are pretty special but the impressive Fraser Gallagher won them the match. He has excellent stick work, a good eye for goal and if he were fit, he would be a Premier Division shoe- in to any side.

Since the Wing Centre was not present for the previous game in Fort William where a fine 3-1 result was earned he has to rely on the explanation of Manager Iain Macleod which gives a very fair indication of what happened on the day.

 Fort William 1 Glenurquhart 3 (North Division 2)
The first half was very even with both teams playing some nice shinty and creating good chances. Fort William were experienced in defence with John MacLeod and Adie Robertson playing well together. The wet pitch suited them as the ball held up in the mud and they were strong in the tackle. We lost a bad goal mid-way through the first half when our defence had chances to clear but did not and we got punished for it.
 It seemed to wake us up a bit however and we finished the first half well.
We changed our full forward from Calum Miller to Calum Fraser and with the far better hitting surface we really started to stretch and open up the Fort William defence and it was not long before we equalised through a great volley from a corner by Calum Fraser. We had a very good spell in this period of the game and Jack Hosie put us 2-1 up with a lovely little run in with the ball and beat the keeper, again showing great composure. Mid-field and defence played really well and handled any attacks that Fort William threw at us. Iain MacLeod scored 15 minutes from the end to make it 3-1 and the two points were ours.
Donald Fraser had a very good game at full back but had to come off injured. We replaced him with Calum Miller and he did extremely well. Bradley Dixon again had a good game, running and working hard for the whole game. James Hurwood was excellent. He was against a good, experienced player but really showed maturity with good tackling and hitting. Ross Macaulay played well and Calum Smith was outstanding at full centre. He has not played for a few weeks but you would not tell. His was an excellent performance. Jack Hosie too was just great. He scored another super  goal which keeps him one goal ahead of Calum Fraser as our top goal scorer. Ewan Fraser and Rory MacLean both came on to wing back for us and did really well too.
Overall a great two points for us. Why we did not play like that two weeks ago in the semi final I don't know. Another good positive game for the whole squad and we have taken four points from four off Fort William this season which pleases me. There were also some good individual performances, especially from the younger players and a very good team performance too.

Kyles Athletic 6 Glenurquhart 3 (Orion Premiership)
 Of the senior game at Kyles there is little to say. Three –nil down inside 11 minutes. At the 20 minute mark Glen woke up and got back into contention with three well taken goals from James Macpherson. At this stage Glen should have got in front having had a few opportunities to take the lead- and Kyles had at least one big let off when a drive from Fraser Heath hit Kyles keeper Kenny Macdonald in the face.
Kyles showed their concern by pulling Roddy Macdonald back to the centreline and  Glen had further chances to ease ahead in the match thanks to hard  work up front especially by Neale Reid. Kyles however slowly but surely began to get a grip in midfield thanks to a superb display of commitment, pace and effort by Robbie Macleod and it was fitting that he should get what should have been the winning goal in 71 minutes with a long drive though more pressure on him as he struck the ball might have led to a different outcome.
What about the two late Kyles goals? Scored in 85 and 89 minutes by Fraser Macdonald after long balls dropped over an unfocused defence, they put a flattering spin on a game that should have ended much closer.
OK Kyles are up there at the top but Glen need to forget about the MacAulay, obtain more focus and  serve it all up with a little more determination.
Kingussie next. Don’t hold the back page.
Thanks to Tina Marshall who took the pics at the Lovat game, Naturally the pic of Graham “Gee” Macmillan who put on a bit of a game for Lovat just has to be an old one of him in a Glen strip.
It looks so much better.

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