Thursday, April 17, 2014

Deconstructing the “D” and destructing opponents.

Glenurquhart 4 Inveraray 1 (Orion Group Premiership)
Lovat 3 Glenurquhart 4 (North Division 1)

“Well,” said the co-manager to the Treasurer. “I’ve experienced losing 4-1 and I’ve also experienced winning 4-1 and I know which I prefer”
The co-manager was speaking just after the 4-1 victory over Inveraray at Blairbeg last Saturday and he looked reasonably pleased.
“Mind you,” said the other co-manager,”thon Inveraray are not a bad side and we rode our luck for the first 20 minutes. If they were not so wasteful in front of goals it might have been a different story altogether.”
And so it very well might, thought the Treasurer to himself, but out of respect to the two managers he actually said nothing about the game but wondered how the Wing Centre would see the game in the D, so he said that to the managers.
They looked at each other and shook their heads.
“Half the time I wonder what game he has actually been to or if he has even been to the match at all?  How he can write what he does some weeks is beyond me. And if we are saying that from a Glen point of view what on earth can other teams think? He’ll only be firing them up to go against us- and you can tell him that when you see him, because I didn’t see him here today”
And so the Treasurer passed on this information to the Wing Centre (which is why the above exchange is included here at all) and the Wing Centre duly sighed.
“It depends on what they think the D is... or what it is for. Is it reporting or is it comment?”
“I think they feel it is fiction- and what is more fiction told by the classic unreliable narrator, “said the Treasurer.
“Rubbish,” said the Wing Centre. “Like who?”
“Like the guy in Chuck Palahniuk’s book ‘Fight Club’ or Patrick Bateman in ‘American Psycho’ “
The Wing Centre shook his head, “I’ve never read any of that stuff.”
“All right then- Forest Gump in the film. Do you get it now?”
“You mean someone who is telling something but their perception is limited through their point of view.”
“If you are wanting an example of that, all you need to do is listen to Charlie Bannerman’s interview with the Newtonmore manager after the Lovat game; you don’t need to be showing off about films and books”
“That was just a one-off interview given in the heat of the moment. That wasn’t a whole blog written from a biased perspective.” …    and with that the Treasurer left to count the money from the Inveraray game which is how the Wing Centre found himself with a little pondering to do before he completed the report on the match.

It certainly had been a dodgy start-and the co-manager was wrong about him not being at the game. He had been though he did spend much of it in the tea-room keeping out of the strong wind which the Glen played against in the first half.
The start of the game however was all Inveraray, and for the first 20 minutes they dominated the game, showing impressive skill and smart thinking to open up the Glen defence on a number of occasions and the red and blacks were indebted to John Barr, Smack the musical goalie  and some wayward finishing that they did not go behind.  Gradually the defence got on top of their men, Ally Mackintosh moved to play in front of his man, while Mike Brady  and  Ewan Lloyd both gradually came on to their game. Inveraray also had the upper hand in the midfield at this stage though Glen should have grabbed a goal when Fraser Heath, who had taken a while to adjust to his forward role, set Neale Reid through clear on goal with only Graham Macpherson to beat but disappointingly the chance was missed.
Just before the halftime break however, the Glen struck twice. The first came in the 40th minute when Fraser Heath slipped a neat ball to David Smart and he laid it on to the stick of Lewis Maclennan who smashed it home with the visitors defence all at seas. Three minutes later Eddie Tembo fired a ball forward from midfield; Lewis Maclennan knocked it across the goals and Fraser Heath finished powerfully from close range. It was another trademark Glen move and it made it look at that stage as if the Glen were well on their way to a comfortable win.
However, just when it looked like the Glen could actually enjoy the 2nd half, Inveraray scored just 3 minutes after the break. This was a goal that was good to watch if you were from Inveraray but very poor from a Glen perspective as the Argyll lads played a pre-arranged short corner- Ewan MacMurdo to Gary Macpherson and back to MacMurdo in a   move which caught the Glen defence sleeping and was expertly fired into the roof of the net.
After this point the Glen started to take control of the game and through some excellent interplay from the forwards, created a number of good chances.  The 3rd goal came from a penalty, after a hack on the edge of the box on 65 minutes and was dispatched firmly by goalkeeper Stuart Mackintosh the designated penalty taker. Three minutes later we scored the 4th which effectively killed the game and this was a goal of high quality, with the ball being moved in the air through the forwards from Lewis Maclennan to Neal Reid before being volleyed first time by Fraser Heath high into the net. In conclusion, this was a game the Glen needed to win and actually won well in the end.  The management had targeted movement and pace up front and that is what the spectators got.  Fraser Heath and the returning David Smart bring an extra dimension to the forward play, but the bosses had specifically asked Neale Reid to move the ball quicker and he delivered on almost every occasion and had a very good game.  Lewis Maclennan also played well.
In the centre line, Eddie Tembo had one of his best games of the season and Ewan Brady playing in the crucial role of full centre had an impressively effective game against Inveraray’s experienced David Robertson though he like the rest of the squad took about 20 minutes to get focused. That slow start won’t work every week. As Steve “Stato” Henderson pointed out to the Wing Centre after the game “Inveraray had 15 corners but they wasted them all but one”.
The only other down side was that the Glen’s Ally Mackintosh was booked for persistent fouling, a decision one could not argue with , though to be fair he has been playing all season through an injury which hampers his mobility.

The news from over the hill where the young boys were visiting the Croft was even better. For the first time in a good number of years the Glen came away with a win 4-3 with Callum “Smudger” Smith grabbing a hat-trick. That means he has scored more goals than Neale Reid and as many as Lewis.
As in Drum, the match was played in a very strong wind so the Glen decided to take the wind at their backs and get off to a good start. Unfortunately the side did not get into the game in the first twenty minutes, losing the midfield battle. Defensively Glen were shaky too and deservedly lost a goal about 15 minutes in. This woke the team up thankfully and they started to get on top. Callum Smith looked a threat every time he got the ball at full forward. Jack Hosie equalised in 20 minutes with a good finish inside the box and then Callum Smith scored a great goal a few minutes before half time to give the Glen the lead. Smith who was outstanding  showed great strength and skill to win the ball, then had the composure to create space and score.
 Unfortunately at half time Glen lost Paul Mackintosh due to his ongoing injury problems so Ross MacAulay was  dropped back into defence. Youngster Liam Robertson then moved into wing centre and Lachie Smith came on at wing forward while Ewan Menzies came on for Rory Maclean. 
These second half changes were able to transform the Glen’s performance  despite the fact that the team were now playing against the  strong and persistent wind.
The centre line continued to be dominant creating chance after chance, with Ewan Menzies making immediate impact. Unfortunately, the Glen were unable to kill the game off and because of that they were punished when Lovat scored a soft goal against the run of play.
After this setback the Glen remained on the back foot for a short period but the strong leaders on the park, Donald Fraser and ‘Dixie’ Maclennan, got the team back on top and again they dominated play scoring two more fine goals through Callum “Smudger” Smith. Smudger had to be the Glen man of the match. He was very strong in the tackle and showed an excellent first touch as well as good balance and control. His distribution to the players around him ,including that to his younger brother Lachie, was excellent too.

Disappointingly the Glen then gifted Lovat another easy goal and that brought in its train a nervous ending to the game with Lovat hitting the post in the last minute. Indeed Glen even had to pull Callum Smith back to defence to make sure of retaining both points though any other result would surely have been a travesty. In conclusion it is only fair to point out that as well as “Smudger” Smith doing the biz up front, “Dixie” Maclennan also came onto an excellent game at full centre too. Beyond his actual playing skills, his positive attitude the whole time helped to inspire the team especially in the latter stages when things were looking tough.
In addition, full back Donald Fraser, solid and strong, was also an inspiration in the heart of the defence and although the hope is that the injured Paul Mackintosh can still  play some part in the games to come, the basis is clearly there of a good competitive side albeit in a ridiculously imbalanced league. Finally and most certainly worthy of mention is Cairn Urquhart  who is a fine example of a hard working club man. A regular attender at training, Cairn always puts in unstinting effort and he is now getting his reward: he will undoubtedly be a key player throughout the rest of the season.
Nearly all of the pictures of the Inveraray match come courtesy of Sheena Lloyd: the very first snap was taken by former manager and forever Glenner Drew MacNeill. Let’s hope the rainbow really is an omen of good things to come.

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