Friday, July 25, 2014

Heath wonder goal Blairbeggars belief

Glenurquhart 2 Kingussie 1 (Orion Group Premier League)
It was a game which looked to always be going to proceed in its own unexciting way: it really didn’t matter about the result. Of course you say it’s important but given where the Glen and Kingussie both are in the League it was not all that important. In truth it was a day for half watching a match, blethering to the Kingussie visitors and hoping that none of the Glen players on the field picked up a booking or an injury. There was a little stir of interest amongst the spectators in as much as Ronaldo was back: he has been out for most of the season and his return is probably not unconnected with the fact that Kingussie have made it through to the Camanachd semis.
You would also have to say that despite the lack of a pile of players, Savio Genini and Lee Bain being two notable absentees, Kings  looked lively at the start and had a couple of early chances neither of which fell to big Ron though he looked good enough but not what he used to be back in the day. Glen struggled to get forward and looked a little off the pace in parts but then again that was only to be expected given that Glen were a pile of players short too-Neale Reid and Dixie Maclennan were banned for going over the points level while Euan Lloyd and James Hurwood  were injured or unwell.

That meant a step up for Raymond Robertson and Ross MacAulay but put massive pressure on an already weakened second team due to face Strathglass on the same afternoon.
Then it happened-26 minutes into the match: Fraser Heath picked up a ball just up from the centreline, juggled it up over Kingussie defender Barry Dallas, ran with it bouncing on his stick and then volleyed it into the net. Goal of the Glen season? Pretty much though James “Frosty” Macpherson has also rattled home some beauties but nothing so far like that. The game then continued with the Glen for a period more dominant since Kingussie appeared to be shell-shocked at the outrageous nature of the goal they had just lost.

Just after halftime Glen picked up a second goal when James Hutchison gave Macpherson just too much time and he hit a powerful shot which Kingussie keeper Craig Dawson did get a hand to, but could not keep out of the net. It certainly came through a group of players and the keeper was probably unsighted till late on.

That probably should have been it but Kingussie continued to look lively and they had a series of opportunities to be more accurate than they were. During this short spell the Glen centreline seemed to be ineffective in as much as they could not prevent their Kingussie opponents from knocking the ball back.  Then in 56 minutes after a nice piece of interplay the ball was slipped inside to Ronald Ross and he hit it hard and low from distance through a ruck of players to put Kingussie apparently back in the match and himself apparently back in first team contention. Indeed if Kingussie get past Fort William in the Camanachd semi, which they should since Gary Innes is not going to be playing, it is unthinkable that they would play a Camanachd final without Ronaldo in the squad if he was fit.

 The news now is that he is fit, not as sharp as he was obviously, but then he is just on the way back to fitness – and he still seems to have the ability to score. He also missed a sitter too which is not the sort of thing you would normally expect from him: it will probably not happen again.
Glen rearranged matters in the centreline at this point and the ship stabilised to allow both teams to fight out the rest of the match on even terms: Glen had a number of chances including a number of free hits which they forced out of the usual no compromise Kingussie back line- but that all came to nothing.
 They also showed some nice patches of interplay which set up some half chances- Raymond Robertson showed some skill and fire in this stage of the match - but Dallas and Hutchison were solid and if given a chance to clear they did so efficiently. If they were absent Dawson certainly wasn't.
 At the other end Kingussie forced a number of chances themselves but wayward shooting and equally solid defending from Stuart Reid and Lewis Maclennan kept them at bay. Ross MacAulay who came on late did well and Mike Brady stuck to a difficult task against youngster James Falconer. Falconer is clearly an up and coming talent for Kingussie but though strong, still looks very much a youngster physically though he has a good deal of pace. The problem for a defender against a player of this type is that he is difficult to deal with and if he gets knocked over in a challenge it can easily look like he is being fouled. To Mike Brady’s credit, in what was a frustrating afternoon, he stuck to his task and as the afternoon wore on he came on to a sound game.
In the end Glen held on to win what was a tight game though Kingussie had more missed attempts on goal than the Glen. On the target Glen did better but only marginally- and it is as always in sport all about slight margins.
The other match at Strathglass saw manager Iain Macleod struggle to get a full set of players to make the game. In order to manage things he was required to dig deep into under 17 resources which at holiday time is not an easy task. However, Ryan Porter, Liam Robertson, Finlay Robertson and Lachie Smith all stepped up to the plate while Dan Mackintosh returned and future Camanachd President Jim Barr also pulled on the black and red stripes for an outing. Cameron Maclennan was up front but the absence of the Hosie brothers, Donald Fraser, Raymond Robertson, Ross MacAulay, Duncan Fraser and Bradley Dixon meant that the side struggled to play coherently. The fact that it was a wet afternoon was also not conducive to good shinty. However Strath scored two early goals and three late ones though the stats table does not indicate the times at which the goals were scored which is a pity. However, Strath will be down in Drum for the return fixture this Saturday and it would be good if there were enough players available to give them a more competitive game. After some excellent showings and some narrow defeats in the cups it would be a good note on which to wind down the season.

The pictures this week are from Neil Paterson and Sheena Lloyd. Best one is the snap of manager Maclean working out the tactics. Look how the position of the tongue shows his total concentration. Bless!

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