Glen slip up in the Cup-but youngsters earn valuable home point.
Lovat 4 Glenurquhart 2 (MacAulay Cup)
Two questions have puzzled the Wing Centre this past week. Here they are in order of importance:- what does weather girl Judith Ralston do with her 101 wee Dalmatians when she is on air and how come the Glen can lead Lovat for 74 minutes and then lose three goals and a hard –won cup in only six minutes?
The answer to both of these questions remains a mystery but in the case of Glen’s shinty flop at Balgate things are not as they might seem. By all accounts Glen played well and at the point when they were 2-1 up they had a chance to go to 3-1 when the ball came across from a corner and the resulting shot struck Lovat keeper Stuart Macdonald on the body thus avoiding the net. The ball went immediately up to the other end; Lovat scored and eventually went on to win by what looked like a comfortable margin.
Glen had of course taken an early lead when Neale Reid managed to turn Lovat defender Drew Howie- and fire the visitors ahead with a nice finish which found the corner of Stuart Macdonald’s net. Glen were playing well at this stage, moving the ball nicely with Ruaraidh Cameron, Ewan Brady David Smart and Reid linking well. Lovat were tenacious however and kept things together and eventually equalised with a long speculative shot from Martin Mainland just before half time. David Smart restored the Glen lead in the 60th minute with an instinctively accurate finish and with the game moving into the 75th minute it looked like all the visitors had to do was hang tough and the match was in the bag.
Except, it wasn’t. By that stage Glen had lost two of their midfielders to injury-Eddie Tembo and Dave Maclennan had to come off the field with knocks-but then so had Lovat’s front man Lorne Mackay. However, the Lovat bench had a joker in the pack however in the person of ex-Glen player Calum MacAulay. He came on up front for the Crofters and basically changed the game. Calum is a quick skilful player with a fine first touch: he is not the sort of player whom the more old-fashioned of the touchline pundits actually rate- but that is their weakness. Against a tiring Glen defence, with a quick running Kevin Bartlett to support him and allied to Greg Matheson’s striking ability, on the day he gave Lovat the sort of dimension they needed to win a game they might otherwise have lost.
About the goals, two from Matheson and one from Bartlett, there is no point in saying anything except that they came very close together and Glen should have done better particularly after the equaliser. The Lovat boys will know that themselves and good luck to them in the next round. However, one would not expect to lose three goals like that in such quick succession again, though with Newtonmore to play next one should perhaps err on the side of caution and say nothing.
Advice for Lovat? The Wing Centre is a generous soul and actually likes Lovat. It doesn’t necessarily endear him to his fellow Monster-watchers but then other matters in the wider world of shinty have conspired to keep his stock low anyway, so he is now at the point of not really being bothered too much either way. So Mr Macrae, don’t play young Master MacAulay on Saturday from the start against Kilmallie in the MacTavish: hain him until the final. Why? The Canal pitch in the wet west requires a different style-keep him for the final in the Bught where the wide open spaces will play to his strengths. What about the other cup, the one in which they won last Saturday? Why, that should be a skoosh for Lovat -after all the main boy has got his name on the cup already.
Lovat 0 Glenurquhart 0 (North Division 2)There was of course another important game on earlier in the day between the Glen and Lovat second teams. It happened over in Drum at Balbeg and by all events Glen were happy to come away with a draw courtesy of some extra-ordinarily fine goal keeping by David MacFadyen.
The first twenty minutes or so were quite competitive –too competitive by some accounts-but then it all settled down with the Glen having to work hard to stay in the match. Glen were certainly fortunate in having Stuart Reid and Calum Smith at the back to bolster Donald Fraser-it’s a moot point whether the first two should have been involved as back up over the hill at Balgate-but the star of the show was undoubtedly David MacFadyen. Having recently relocated to Inverness for work reasons the former Kilmory and Aberdeen University custodian has fitted in well in the Glen colours both outfield and between the sticks as Lovat found out to their cost.
For aficionados of Glen shinty this was an interesting match not least in the unusual manner in which manager Iain Macleod laid out his troops. The most interesting switch was to pull Calum Miller back from the forward line into the centre line for the first part of the match- and he had an excellent match in that area. Defensively the line held well against tough pressure for Lovat had Ewan Ferguson in the front line but he was unable to penetrate the Drum defence which was physically a match for the men in black and white. Bradley Dixon too was able to sweep up a lot of stuff at buckshee back where his speed also stood him in good stead.
Up front, Paul Mackintosh back from injury performed well as did the front three of Jack Hosie, James Hurwood and Euan Lloyd. Given however that they were up against a vastly experienced Lovat back row which included Jimmy Mackenzie and Martin Bell they were never going to find it easy to find the net. Special mention must also be given to youngster Liam Robertson who came on at wing centre later in the match and impressed the spectators with his work rate and commitment. Given the injuries and upheavals that this Glen side have had to face over recent weeks and the fact that Lovat are an experienced side then a point was a definite result. Magic!!
The verdict overall? Lovat got out of jail at Balgate and Glen got out of jail in Drum. The Wing Centre missed both games of course because he had been sent into to exile for the weekend to do penance for having got involved in the league restructuring boorach.
On Saturday the Glen play Newtonmore up in the foothills in what one can only assume from the weather forecast will be heavy rain. Or on the other hand one could stay in Drum and watch the seconds play Kingussie : the rain will be doubtless equally heavy on the loch-side. Summer shinty-dontcha just love it!! Only sometimes.The questions in the intro? Here are the answers in order of importance: “Who cares?” and “Don’t know.”
The pictures are from Crofter snapper Neil Paterson and his stuff can be seen at http://www.neilgpaterson.com/ Thanks Neil and this ought to be the year when your young agriculturalists get their hands on a trophy.