Goal Harvest at the Croft.
Lovat 4 Glenurquhart 0 (Orion Premier League)
It’s time for Plan C. If Plan A and Plan B did not work it is certainly appropriate for some other strategy to be brought into play-literally. Saturday’s match against Lovat, especially a lame first half, did not make happy viewing. Ok , Glen were without Andrew Corrigan, Eddie Tembo, Paul Mackintosh and Neale Reid (Lovat lacked Kevin Bartlett) but in the end you have go with the team you’ve got- and the team Glen have got were not able to keep the team Lovat had got at bay. The result of that is Lovat have to be firm favourites going into the MacTavish Cup Final on the 15th of June.
If you are being honest Lovat have taken four goals off the Glen defence each time they have played this season - and at the other end, Glen, despite having territorial advantage for most of the second half were unable to seriously test Stuart Macdonald in the Lovat goals.
The first Lovat goal was a bit fortuitous in that the Glen defence and Greg Matheson got mixed up together but Matheson had the wit to poke the ball agonisingly over the line as he fell in the tangle. The next two were better worked: Lorne Mackay, whose pace had troubled the Glen defence all first half found himself out on the right on the end of a scrappy Glen clearance and he fired the ball low through a ruck of players into the net. A few minutes later he was left unmarked 15 yards out from goal and his accurate shot meant his side deservedly went in 3-0 up.
Glen supporters were left wondering if their team really wanted the game to take place at all while Lovat were clearly the hungrier team. Their forward line kept the Glen defence on the go for the whole first half and while the Glen midfield did not perform too badly but whatever ball they moved up front to the forwards was woefully handled in the first period. The front four were knocked out of the way by the Lovat defence and opportunities to shoot- and there were at least five -were squandered with over-elaborate lead up play- and the balls were cleared without the backs being put under serious pressure.
The second half was better in that the Glen managed greater territorial possession but unfortunately during the opening 15 minutes of the second half when they would have needed a goal to re-open the game as a contest they were unable to score. They had at least 12 opportunities in front of goal in the second period from the 46th minute when Liam Girvan forced Stuart Macdonald to make a save. David Smart drove over while a drive from Ewan Brady, who began to trouble the Lovat defence into hampering his forward runs, just went over. Lovat conceded a series of fouls and David Smart put one past while another was on target but dealt with by Macdonald safely.
Brady worked his way through and shot past and then fired another one on target which Macdonald dealt with again. Glen rang the changes by moving Lewis Maclennan up front to support Girvan and Billy Urquhart, with youngster Ewan Lloyd coming on in the defence but Lovat still managed to keep their clean sheet. Finally in the 81 minutes a Lovat attack saw Greg Matheson brought down and a penalty awarded which was converted efficiently by Calum Cruden to make the final score 4-0.
So what does one make of that?
Lovat at the back were quick and aggressive while the Glen seemed to play without serious passion. The Lovat forwards also appeared quick and the Glen defence did not appear happy to get tangled up physically with them. There is an issue perhaps about the young Lovat defence in that they appear to be given more leeway by referees to push in the back than would have been accorded to Glen full back John Barr but that is partly about how John is perceived and how some clubs target the ref to have him booked-not something Lovat needed to be guilty of this week. However refs invariably are about 30 yards away from the back pushes and unless the forward goes down these sorts of persistent pushes are never given. Alternatively you can harden up and not get pushed off the ball.
Anyway, all of that is academic now. Certainly Glenurquhart need to play with some more commitment-and a spot of training from all the players would not go amiss since it was clear Lovat were in some areas of the field-not all- fitter. That will certainly be more obvious in the large open spaces of the Bught. However, if Glen play for the full match like they did in the opening 75 minutes of the recent MacAulay Cup tie- and have a complete squad of players-then they can win on the 15th June though it will be tight.
If Glen don’t step up a gear and act as if they want it, then it looks like there’s going to be a good party over at Brockies.
Plan C ? Vitamin C more like!!
Aberdeen University 1 Glenurquhart 2 (North Div 2)
The seconds travelled to Aberdeen with a reduced squad and probably surprised everyone including themselves and Aberdeen by coming home with both points. Youngsters Liam Robertson and Calum Macphail started for the Glen this week in the absence of Calum Smith, Cairn Urquhart and James Hurwood.
Aberdeen had more or less the whole of the first half, playing what they considered their best shinty of the season so far and the only thing that appeared to stand between Glenurquhart and complete disaster was goalie David MacFadyen who kept everything out except a long strike on the 30 minute mark from ironically enough his fellow clansman, Aberdeen’s John MacFadyen. The Glen front men in the first period simply could not get past the Aberdeen defence- and the whole performance was very much below par.
However, the manager’s half time team talk worked wonders. A different team came onto the park for the second half. The defence tightened up, as did the centre line and the introduction of Ben Hosie up front plus one or two positional changes began to make a difference. Suddenly the Glen began to create chances and got several good shots on target. Eventually, the red and blacks scored two fantastic goals in a period of the game when they dominated against a good Aberdeen team. Ross Macaulay and Ross MacDiarmid were the goal scorers with excellent strikes and after a shaky start Glen were able come away from the Granite City with two valuable league points. However they will not get away with an insipid first half in Saturday’s visit to Newtonmore, any more than the first team will at Lochaber.
Thanks to Tina Marshall for the pictures this week. The Crofter’s other snapper Neil Paterson was forced to watch Inverness play Beauly. Imagine a Lovat man being sent to watch Beauly - if inflicted on a child it would rank as cruelty.
Tina’s pics are excellent but the poor girl had to work hard to get a Glenner in the frame they were missing so often on Saturday. As for Greg, he kept moving so fast, she had to wait till he was lying on the ground to get a pic. Thanks Tina. Her stuff can be found at http://tinamarshall.co.uk/blog_110.html