Hutchie keeps the Glen at bay.
Kingussie 1 Glenurquhart 0 (Orion Group Premiership)
Last Saturday morning it was very hard to believe that any game was going to go ahead let alone one up on Kingussie moor. After all down by Loch Ness, complete with its micro-climate which means that Drum is 2 degrees warmer than anywhere else in the North, there was a blanket of snow covering Blairbeg. Surely matters would be much worse up in the land of the ptarmigan and reindeer. Indeed, would the team even get over the Slochd?
The Wing Centre thought not and decided he would head over Culnakirk to watch the Crofters on their home park: Lord Lovat’s men against the foot-soldiers of the Duke of Argyll. In the end Lovat won but they had to rely on the boy from the Cromartie estate to get both the goals. Kevin Bartlett got the first early on and got the second late in the second half courtesy of a slip up by Andrew MacMurdo. Otherwise Lovat did not play either badly or well: they played competently and if they can do that every week and still win, then the only match worth watching this year will be when they face up to Newtonmore in some competition or other. Newtonmore, it appears managed the same trick against ‘Shiel.
The Glen? It would be good if they could have a full team of fit players for once in the season. The first half against ‘Shiel was the last time end and then Andy Corrigan was injured. This week it was Lewis Maclennan who went over an ankle at work on the Friday – and goodness knows his hitting and finishing was certainly missed up at the Dell.
The start of the game was relatively even but gradually the Glen started to get the better of the pressure and an excellent opportunity was created for Neale Reid which he struck very well and produced an outstanding save from Dawson in the Kingussie goal. Was it a save? Mr D will undoubtedly think so but every Glenner present on the day has told the Wing Centre that the ball hit the keeper’s club with the keeper not knowing anything about it, and since that fits the narrative better then that is the way it was. That is not to take away from the Kingussie keeper’s afternoon because he produced a number of other fine saves which he undoubtedly did mean.Glen continued to have the bulk of the play without creating any clear cut chances and then mid-way through the 1st half David Smart had to go off injured. On came Stuart Reid at wing back and Euan Lloyd moved to wing forward. 5 minutes before half time Stuart Reid also got injured and so the management reversed position with Euan until we could ascertain the seriousness of Stuart’s injury. The first half concluded with plenty of energy from both sides but little flair or obvious chances.
The second half started much as the first had finished with the Glen having the better of the game but truthfully little creativity was displayed in front of goals. Then 10 minutes into the half Kingussie won a controversial free hit out on the right, hit a diagonal forward ball and Savio Genini scored low into the corner for the first goal the Glen have conceded this season. It was a blow, certainly, but there was plenty time to do something about it but though Glen dominated possession and chances they were simply unable to score.
Indeed Glen’s Steve “Statto” Henderson noted down the figures which give the story of the game. Glen had 7 shots on target, 6 off target and 10 corners. Kingussie had 3 shots on target, 3 off target and 1 corner- and of course among the shots on target 1 goal. Glen keeper Stuart “Smack” Mackintosh only had one hit out in the 2nd half. To make things even worse both James Macpherson and Stuart Reid had to come off injured in the second half to be replaced by Ally Mackintosh and James Hurwood. In fact the first appearance of Ally Mackintosh for this season was one of the few positives to take from the day.
In conclusion, it is hard to fault the Glen defence who put in a very solid performance with John Barr excellent.The centre line won much more than they lost so a reasonable performance from them.
So what happened? Well Mr Dawson in very fine form happened. Then Barry Dallas likewise and then shutting up shop completely by bringing Lee Bain back for the last 20 minutes made a defence good enough to do the business against a Glen forward line to which injuries both before and during the game caused considerable disruption.
The key man for Kingussie was of course full back, James Hutchison. He is a player who at times appears to be a force of nature - he pushes; he pulls; he obstructs at the level of an art form which could be appreciated, indeed savoured, if it was not happening against the Glen.
“I was cursing him even as I was admiring him,“said one veteran Glenner to the Wing Centre last Sunday afternoon. Referees? They were all born yesterday and Hutchie wasn’t: it’s that simple. He is good at what he does and he stands between Kingussie and the abyss-for now.
On Saturday, the Glen go to Skye for the first round of the MacTavish Cup and from a rough head count of those who returned to the forward trench after last week’s over the top attack, a fresh draft of reserves from the second squad is required.
The first two pictures are provided by Neil Paterson (http://www.neilgpaterson.com/ ) : the rest are courtesy of Sheena Lloyd .