Thursday, June 05, 2014

Glen axe Lochaber twice in the cups……..just!

Glenurquhart 6 Lochaber 4 (Strathdearn)
      Lochaber 3 Glenurquhart 5 (Camanachd Cup)

OK so the Glen notched up two good results on the same Saturday but things were nearly very different.
Take the game at Drum for instance : Lochaber were two up before you could say Loch Ness Monster and then they  hit another one to make it 3-1 after Glen had got a goal back through Cairn Urquhart- and it took until extra time before the red and black lads made it securely through to the next round. What a cliff-hanger!
Of course it could all have been predicted before the match. Glen manager Iain Macleod had to go into the match with a number of players missing the most important of whom was keeper David MacFadyen who had to work. Back between the sticks came Gary Mackintosh after a three year lay-off and it took about 15 minutes or so before he got himself re-adjusted to the business of plying serious shinty again. By that time the Glen were two nil down, the first coming when Lochaber’s Danny Delaney picked up a rebound off the stand–in keeper in 5 minutes and the second when the goalie misjudged a shot from Stuart Matheson. It might have helped matters however if the Glen defenders had been tighter on their opponents and prevented the Lochabermen from playing good shinty which let them have the opportunity to shoot.
From this point the Glen centreline of Drew Maclennan, Iain Macleod and Liam Robertson took control in the middle of the park and began creating chances. Cairn Urquhart was first to profit scoring an excellent goal from a well worked corner which he fired into the net from just outside the D. Glen created a number of chances to level the game but wayward shooting and two good stops from Lochaber’s veteran keeper Harry Macdonald kept the home side at bay until disaster in the 34th minute when Delaney picked up another goal to restore Lochaber’s two goal lead.
All was not lost however because just before half time the excellent Drew Maclennan fired up a long ball to Glen full forward Callum Smith. He controlled the ball and on the turn smashed it home to put the Glen in to the half time dressing room only one goal behind.
The second half saw the Glen continue to play well and Ben Hosie drew the sides level in 48 minutes when from the right he made a lovely run into space and scored with a fine first time shot.
Unfortunately though Glen continued to have the bulk of the play, inaccurate finishing and good play from Lochaber keeper Macdonald kept the Glen out. Lochaber were awarded a penalty when Glen fullback Paul Mackintosh kicked the ball but keeper Gary Mackintosh saved from Delaney and the game ran on into extra time.
At the start of the extra period a Lochaber miss in front of goal was quickly punished at the other end in the second half of extra time when Callum Smith rocketed a shot into the roof of the net after receiving the ball from an indirect free hit. Ben Hosie then put the Glen further ahead with another rocket shot, this time from the right.
Glen continued to press and Lochaber’s Macdonald had a fine double save from first Raymond Robertson and then Ben Hosie. In the tenth minute of extra time  Ben Hosie completed his hat-trick when he finished well from a ball that came over from a corner and although Lochaber goat a fourth goal back from a penalty strike which this time they converted there was not enough time left for them to make further in-roads into the Glen lead.
In short this was a game which the Glen deserved to win but in order to do so they needed to keep their self-belief at points in a game when it would have been easy to give up. That they kept their collective nerve was particularly down to Drew Maclennan and Ewan Menzies who both put in excellent performances and led by example but those on the sidelines, especially Iain Macleod’s No 2 Chris Surtees who suffered greatly at various points in the game would perhaps have preferred a little less excitement on the day. However there will be no let up on that front since in the next game the lads face up to Lovat seconds who no doubt will have all their pensioners on hand for the match.

 The Camanachd Cup tie at Lochaber was equally thrilling - apparently. Perhaps the rather boring affair back in Drum the week before in the Premier League was not so dull after all. The Wing Centre asked Mr Reid what he thought of the game.
Mr R shook his head and simply stated “Lochaber have a lovely pitch. It was perfection. What an improvement there is on it from the time I used to play there when wee Tommy and big Donnie used to rule the roost.”
He refused to say more….
However, it did transpire that this week the Glen had to rejig the backline since Lewis Maclennan was unavailable due to suspension but the return of Mike Brady at least helped to restore some experience to the defence line. 

A much tougher game than the previous week was certainly expected and that was how it transpired.  Lochaber had clearly made a decision to be much more physical in this game and it paid off when the Glen, unusually made a poor start and lost a goal inside 10 minutes to a Stuart Callison strike as a result of slack marking at a free hit.  Shortly after this defender Stuart Reid received a knee injury and had to be replaced.  Glen gradually came more into the game and after a period of pressure David Smart scored the equaliser.  For the remainder of the half the Red and Blacks dominated the game and played some excellent open shinty, with further goals from Neale Reid , Fraser Heath and James “Frosty” Macpherson making the half time score 4-1.  Unfortunately both Euan Lloyd and James Hurwood received nasty injuries and had to be substituted with Stuart Reid coming back on and Billy Urquhart also taking the field for the second half. 

A super start to the second half was marked with a fine finish from “Frosty” Macpherson making it 5-1 but any  hope for a relaxing second half was quickly dashed when Lochaber scored an immediate second and then midway through the second half a third.  Glen then brought on Ross MacAulay for Stuart Reid and pulled both Fraser Heath and Andrew Corrigan back into defence.  Although this did tighten the game up Lochaber still had a penalty well saved by Stuart Mackintosh which if it had gone in would have meant an uncomfortable last five minutes. Still the important thing was the result and given that the draw for the next round favoured the Glen with a home draw it is now all down to the lads themselves as to how far they go in the Camanachd. Certainly with Newtonmore gone and Lovat , Kingussie and Kyles due to meet each other in the “draw of death” Glen have as good a chance as any of progressing to the semis. Provided they beat Inveraray of course which will be no easy task.

The photos all come from the game at Spean and come from the camera of Sheena Lloyd with the exception of the snap of “Frosty” which was taken by Neil Paterson.
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