Friday, May 30, 2014

Lochaber lose and ‘More draw at Drum.

Glenurquhart2 Lochaber 0 (Orion Group Premier League)
Glenurquhart 1 Newtonmore 1 (Marine Harvest North Division 1)

Why the delay in posting the story of the Lochaber game? Well, truth to tell, after the high drama of the last two weeks there was more excitement in the midweek Lotto draw than there was in the whole Lochaber match. In fact it was a surprise to the Wing Centre that it was on at all as he fully expected that the death-and indeed the funeral on the Saturday- of the late Mrs Toal, mam of that superb Lochaber stick player the late Joe Toal, would have occasioned a postponement and that would have been acceptable to all, however loud the cries might have been for continuity. The game went ahead however-hard on the heels of a very competitive second string match against Newtonmore (of which more later, if you pardon the pun) but Lochaber did not seem to be up for it. Not that this betokens any pattern for this week’s Camanachd Cup match at Spean where the home side will be much more prepared and competitive.
Lochaber seemed to be a few players short-Zander Ferguson was certainly absent as was Neil Macdonald-and they got off to a shaky start when a saved shot from one of the Glen forwards-too far away to be seen and in the aftermath of a dull game the Wing Centre was too bored to ask who actually played the ball- came back out to James Macpherson who slammed the ball home from close range. There were just 4 minutes on the clock. You have to hand it to big James; he can strike a ball and this was yet another of the vital goals he has nabbed for the Glen this season. The Courier got it wrong though-he was not signed last season: he has been playing in black and red since season 2011-2012 and has been linked with the Glen long enough to qualify for a council house in the area if such a thing still existed. In case anyone forgets, as Mr Reid is keen to remind us, his father Alan gained immortality as one of the Strathdearn Cup winning side of 1977.
Speaking of Mr Reid it only came to light a week last Wednesday at the Lotto draw in the Steading that he is as blind as a bat.
Young Glen Macdonald drew the balls and as you can see from the picture, Mr Reid is struggling to actually see the number. Yet he seems quite capable of cutting the grass at The Nessiedome without it appearing to be uneven. Remarkable really.
Back at the game Lochaber struggled to make progress and only big Shaun Nicholson, well marshalled though he was by Fraser Heath, looked really to have the skill to get through a Glen backline where Lewis Maclennan was superb with his tackling and first touch.

John Barr is carrying a little niggle and was deployed up front leaving the rear to be policed by Lewis, Fraser Heath, Euan Lloyd and Stuart Reid. Considering the absence of Mike Brady, Ally Mackintosh and Andy Corrigan the surprise was that Lochaber could not quite get into swing and keeper Stuart Mackintosh was not really bothered all afternoon. EJ Tembo received a nasty head injury after 25 minutes and he was replaced by Billy Urquhart who moved up front with Dave Smart dropping to full centre .Fortunately, EJ was able to re-join the game after some patching up from trainer Alan Corrigan.
The Glen made the points safe in the 53rd minute when John Barr laid a ball across to David Smart and he swept it into the net for the winner. Glen deployed Jack Hosie, Billy Urquhart and Ross MacAulay later in the match and they all performed well which means that over the last few matches a good number of second team lads have had to turn out in the senior squad and thereby gained some experience. Glen continued to create chances and Neale Reid was particularly unlucky not to score.
Lochaber did have some ball with their forwards later in the game but never really threatened to score and only had a single shot in the 90 minutes. It was particularly pleasing that centre man Arran Macdonald had his best game of the season by some measure and his consistent long shies were a real asset.
In the context of coming on the back of two very intense games, this was overall a good result; Lochaber are a decent team but they did appear short on confidence.  The hope is that their confidence does not return in the next week!
Such is the nature of the intensity of this Premier League that few sides will be playing with the same set of guys that they began the season with back on March 1st.
Glen are not the only side to suffer like this. Newtonmore seconds played in Drum earlier in the day and it was clear that they too were struggling to find a full set of players for their first team to travel to Kyles apparently to inaugurate the pitch by playing the opening game of the season on the Tighnabruaich Park. How that can be happening as late as the 24th of May is a mystery to this writer but there we are.

The Newtonmore North Division 1 match was however a very competitive and enjoyable affair which the Glen really should have won.
Glen took an early lead through Jack Hosie who tucked the ball into the net in three minutes and then had an opportunity to double their lead when goalie Owen Fraser was judged to have caught the ball when attempting to sweep it by.
Fraser however redeemed himself when he saved the resultant well struck spot hit from Raymond Robertson. Glen youngster Liam Robertson had to leave the field with a nasty hand knock as did one of the Newtonmore youngsters - these kids need to wear gloves or learn to keep the blocking club vertical when they tackle (see pic with Paul Mackintosh above) - and the balance of the game swung then a little to Newtonmore. Chris Sellar evened up the score in 48 minutes with a simple strike and for the rest of the afternoon the sizeable crowd were treated to an entertaining match which either side could have pinched. A draw was probably the fairest result.
Best for the Glen were Ewan Menzies and Raymond Robertson who were always on the front foot though youngster Lachie Smith was not far behind them.
Drew Maclennan also put in an excellent shift as did Brad Sneddon and Jack Hosie while Liam Robertson until the moment of his departure was also putting in a tremendous performance.

This Saturday sees the Lochaber youngsters coming to Drum for a Strathdearn tie and once again the Glen will have to be on top form to make progress. The majority of the good photos - indeed all of them are by Donald Cameron. There were unfortunately no real snappers at the Premier game so the camera phone snaps will have to do. The most memorable is of Lewis Maclennan having a wee rest at the end of the game. The Lochaber game pics are only interesting in that if you big them up you can see how bonny the sky was-which is really the only reason for putting them in.

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