Friday, July 11, 2014

Inveraray get Frosty reception in Drum.

Sometimes you wait for ever to get a story which fits a headline - and then when you finally get the chance to use it you have to say to yourself “Why bother?”  The above is a headline in search of a story - but the game took place in July, both sets of spectators got on well, there was no hassle between the teams - so the only thing that would make it stick , barely, is that James “Frosty” Macpherson had a hand in Inveraray’s
defeat. In fact two glorious strikes and an assist can’t be bad and would carry the story if it were not for the truth that Inveraray actually have every right to think that the two goal margin flattered the Glen.

Perhaps the Glen started a little flat given that the second team had just suffered a disappointing exit from the Strathdearn Cup after extra time and actually leading for a spell- but more of that later. In the Camanachd match, Glen’s defence got off to a very shaky start - but then they were up against some wily forwards who have mastered the technique of getting to the ball first and then falling over. Result- a foul but then again the Glen defenders have to learn to get to the ball first and failing that try not to knock the man over. Whether that is worth the bother depends on how you read the ref but generally nowadays if the forward goes down under the slightest of touches it is a foul. It is hard to believe though that at this stage of the season the Glen are playing without three of the back four which began the season against ‘Shiel - Ally Mackintosh, John Barr and Andrew Corrigan - so the fact that the guys actually playing knitted together so well eventually in this match was a blessing.
The first minute was a disaster - an Inveraray free hit after a back push. The ever lively Euan MacMurdo played the ball across the D and Lewis MacNicol was allowed too much space on the left to finish easily from close range. Inveraray high-fives all round and the Lovat players watching from the sidelines must have thought it was going to be another day of disaster for the Glen - and looking at them and speaking to them the Wing Centre thought they counterfeited genuine concern for the fate of the Glen. Truly. Nobody likes to see their neighbour burgled unless they are carrying out the burglary themselves - if you catch the drift.

Anyway Inveraray had a very good spell at the start of the match when they seemed to have the Glen centreline under control and the Glen defence chasing and only just catching shadows while Stuart Mackintosh in the Glen goals had at least one excellent stop. Other Inveraray chances went wide and high.
Glen began to gather a little more self-belief and the centreline especially Arran Macdonald began to get more into the game until in the 39th minute a free hit taken by Callum Smith on the right was slipped across by David Smart and out of some broken play James Macpherson pounced on a loose ball to smash it past ‘Rary keeper Graham Macpherson to level the match.

A much better Glen performance developed in the second half and Neale Reid began to look dangerous though the pick of the front men at this stage had to be David Smart whose tireless running meant that Inveraray always had to be alert when Glen attacked. In the Glen defence as the game went on the Inveraray threat began to ease as full back Lewis Maclennan and in particular buckshee back Fraser Heath began to dominate. John Barr who had come on midway through the first half moved to full centre to put some bite into matters. Inveraray were hampered too by the fact that the excellent Grant Griffin had to come off with a twisted ankle and their front line never totally refocused after his departure.
 Both sides had chances and Neale Reid in particular fired over the bar when he might have worked the keeper but late in the match a long clearance from Glen keeper Mackintosh skipped right through the centreline and fell to Reid; he patted the ball sideways and James Macpherson as always got his shot on target. The ball skipped up off the hard turf and back off ’Rary keeper Macpherson and back into the path of Reid who made no mistake from close range. That might have been enough to do the business but a tiring Inveraray defence let a through ball from Smart run across the D out to the left where Macpherson fired an unstoppable drive past Macpherson to make it 3-1.

A comfortable victory then - perhaps it looked that way in hindsight. It was however hard fought for: Arran Macdonald and EJ Tembo worked hard in the middle to make it happen and their shies plus those of youngster Callum Smith are exceptional and in some cases cause more hassle for defences than a free hit. Neale Reid battled hard all day and is now showing glimpses of his 2012 pre-arm break form and David Smart ran himself into the ground. “Frosty” Macpherson smashed home the chance which is what he is there to do.
The result is that the Glen is in a Camanachd semi-final for the first time in a wee while which can’t be bad for the village. Just a final thought : one other team in red and black made it into an actual final the other night- and the name of the team begins with a “G”. Of course the Germans play football but it might just be an omen.

Disappointing though was the Strathdearn result: 1-1 at full time, 1-3 after extra time. As the result indicates for the regulation 90 minutes there was very little between the teams with truthfully at either end very little being created. Glen would have been more effective perhaps if Ross MacAulay had been present and the use of Callum Smith in the senior team- where he ought by rights to be - meant that Glen were a little light in the middle of the field. Newtonmore had a good number of youngsters on show and if their sturdy display on Saturday was anything to go by they are going to have an excellent future.
They were also bolstered by the experienced Kenny Ross in the middle while fullback John Mackenzie never did seem very much under pressure despite the fact that Glen had a fair amount of play coming through Drew Maclennan at full centre. Glen too were not especially troubled at the back with Drew MacNeill preventing Brett Munro from being able to do much with the ball and Lachie Smith at wing back was on top of his opponent throughout .
Cairn Urquhart tested ‘More keeper Owen Fraser in 25 minutes but, sadly from a Glen point of view, he was up to the job. The other Glen attacks however seemed more unfocused and petered out at too great a distance to cause the blue and whites much bother.

The teams went in 0-0 at half time and despite the fact that Glen boss Iain Macleod strove to drive his men forward ,there was not much of note until the 68th minute when a slip by ‘More’s Mackenzie allowed Glen forward Cairn Urquhart to hammer home the ball from close range to put the Glen 1-0 ahead. 
Hardly had the dust settled and the cheering subsided in the stand when youngster Ian Robinson equalised.

That is the way it remained until the end of normal time with the only real excitement being the home spectators trying to annoy Glen Tonkin the ‘More manager over a disputed shy. Not that the shy ever was disputed because the guys couldn’t see the line properly from the stand but Glen got roused because at times he does. Memo to Glen: when this happens –the Sgiathanachs will do it in the final- just look at them, smile broadly and give them the thumbs up and they will either slag you off more or laugh. Either way you will have won.
Extra time though was a disappointment for the Glen: Ian Robinson twice beat Glen keeper David Macfadyen , once in either half but by that time the Glen just were not able to reply not least because forward Jack Hosie had taken a nasty blow to the back of his hand which reduced his effectiveness.
Newtonmore too had just too much energy for a Glen side which struggled to compete in the later stages. Good luck to Newtonmore in the final where they will be up against a Skye side which put out new side Strathspey.

Pictures are from Neil Paterson (1,2,3 & 4 Inveraray  + 1 , 3, 4 & 7 Newtonmore ) and Sheena Lloyd ( 5, 6 & 7 Inveraray   2, 4 , 5 & 6 Newtonmore game)

Thanks to Sheena for shot of Gary Mac showing Newtonmore’s Mr T how to smile. Thanks to Neil for nice shot of Glen’s Mr T looking through his visor as he contemplates fatherhood (Wee E J came into the world on the Monday after the match. All the best to himself and Sian).  Meanwhile have a look at the size of the Newtonmore men-children who surround poor Jack  in Pic 5 (Newtonmore game).
They will grow up into  Camanachd Cup winning beasts.

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