Thursday, March 06, 2014

Glen make encouraging start in the Orion Group Premiership

Glenurquhart 4 Kinlochshiel 0
A better start than was in evidence this time last year- and that has to be a good thing for all Glenners especially in what is bound to be the tightest of shinty leagues.
On the other hand what does that result do apart from postponing the pressure for another 7 days?
Well it gives Glenners far and near some comfort in that the forwards are able to hit the target accurately though it is a dead on certainty that the Glen defenders will encounter more testing forward lines than the one they faced up to on Saturday. Not a surprise that, what with ‘Shiel’s Keith Macrae confined to the sidelines after a hernia operation and the other two Macraes in the centreline for a time.
Even having said that- and admitting that the Glen were without  Ali Mackintosh – the final result was more than a little harsh on Kinlochshiel because, especially in the first half there was little between the teams and it certainly took Glen a long time to get on the score sheet.
Glen certainly had some good early pressure- an early drive over the bar from David Smart and a neat piece of work by Ewan Brady to set up Eddie Tembo whose shot whistled past are testament to that. However it took until the 15th minute to test ‘Shiel keeper Scottie Kennedy when he just managed to stop a low drive from Lewis Maclennan with his foot.
At the other end Glen keeper Stuart Mackintosh also had to earn his keep with a fine save but ‘Shiel’s other chances like those of Glenurquhart  were squandered without bringing the keeper into play. However just as everyone was becoming resigned to accept a goalless first half, Glen broke the deadlock with an excellently executed finish. Neale Reid picked up the ball beyond the penalty area flicked it in to David Smart who knocked it on in the air and James Macpherson on the left, under tight pressure from the Shiel full back managed to get just enough room take the ball on the bounce and fire what was in essence a half-chance into the bottom corner of the net.
The half time whistle came with the Glen having the psychological edge which with about 60% of the pressure was just about deserved: the big disappointment was an injury to key defender Andy Corrigan just before the half time whistle. He took a blow from a ‘Shiel defender on the thumb and had to leave immediately for Raigmore where the injury was confirmed as a break. He will miss the next very important 6 weeks of the Premier campaign which given the tightness of the league and the small number of fixtures is a severe blow. As to the cause of the injury, the least said soonest mended though credit should go to ref Deke Cameron for defusing the situation in a sensible manner.
Shiel too suffered an unfortunate injury in another tackle as defender David Falconer had to leave the field with an injury which turned out to be a broken collar-bone.
Despite the absence of Corrigan the second half was more securely with the Glen and Shiel tired as the match went on something probably not unrelated to the fact that because of weather related call offs, they had been unable to have pre-season fixtures to sharpen then up.
Lewis Maclennan doubled the Glen lead in the 53rd minute after a Neale Reid shot came back off Shiel keeper Kennedy and James Macpherson added a third when he too pounced on a rebound. The final goal came when Ewan Brady who had a solid match set up Neale Reid with a clear sight of goal and he hammered the ball home from close range. Neil’s victory somersault was less elastic than it used to be but at least he always celebrates with style.

Where does this leave the Glen? Bizarrely, at the top of the league for the next day or so but on looking back at the game the score was more than a little harsh on Shiel- and for both sides the game was hard fought with the attrition rate on players quite high for Shiel’s Mark Macdonald appeared to struggle at the end and both Fraser Heath and Euan Lloyd took knocks. Hopefully, neither will be hurt badly enough to keep them out of competition in the next game. Saturday’s match against Lochaber at Spean has been put on hold because of the funeral of Scotland darts player Brian Whyte who had a shinty club connection.

 Kingussie 4 Glenurquhart 1
Should have done better! There can be no other verdict on what was a disappointing result. The match was first supposed to have been at The Dell, then with the reversal of the first team fixture it was moved to Dunbarry and then finally shifted back to the Dell. Not that that made any difference because Kingussie , to be fair to them ,played their normal second string in a match where had they so wished they could have strengthened it with players from the top squad. They did not do so and that can only be to the good of the game at this level.
The first half was a very even contest with one good goal from Chris Hollysong separating the two teams. However despite the fact that Glen defended well enough, too many players were under par and performed disappointingly.
Kingussie positioned their older experienced players, Camanachd Cup winning veterans Ally Macleod, Kevin Thain and Michael Clark down the middle and placed their quicker players in the wing forward positions. Glen matched this with James Hurwood and Bradley Sneddon dropping into wing back positions with Paul Mackintosh and Donald Fraser down the centre. James Hurwood had an excellent half, putting in excellent tackles as required: Bradley Sneddon played well in parts too though there were occasions when he was caught out by intelligent Kingussie forward play. Both Donald Fraser and Paul Mackintosh played Kevin Thain and Michael Clark well in this half but the Glen’s centreline and forward play was a disappointment and it was clear that only a massive improvement would get Glen back in the game.
Sadly things went downhill right at the start of the second half when keeper David MacFadyen gave away a penalty by kicking the ball. Kingussie’s Kevin Thain then scored from the spot and as a result Glen found it doubly hard to get back into the game from that point. To attempt to rectify the situation the Glen management made some positional changes, with Duncan Fraser doing extremely well when he came on first at full forward, then at half back. Liam Robertson too injected energy into the Glen forward line. Sadly however Glen lost another poor goal through slack defending half way through the second half before a spell of nice shinty resulted in a well taken goal from Jack Hosie. Thain scored another goal four minutes from the end which put a flattering gloss on the result from the Kingussie perspective but by this point the game was well beyond retrieval.
As always there are lessons to be learned but given other results in this division genuine second teams are going to find it a difficult season against recognised first teams. What makes it trickier is that they can come up against second teams that can call on senior players with experience at the very highest level. It is to be hoped that sides do not beef up their squads unreasonably in such circumstances.
Glen now find themselves in that situation on Saturday when they are due to face Beauly and they have options to use at least seven senior players because the Lochaber game is off.  No doubt we’ll find out the line-up on the Saturday but lets hope that common sense prevails.
In the absence of Neil Paterson the “D” can offer only a few poor home-made pics. The WHFP has a double page spread of pics about which a word of caution. While the report on the match is balanced and fair the pics are selected and captioned to reflect a parallel West Highland shinty universe. Almost without exception they illustrate a Shiel player besting his Glen opponent: if the Wing Centre hadn’t been at the game himself, he would have worried about the outcome!!

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