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I'm a part-time freelance sports photographer covering Caithness and the North of Scotland.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Pentland Utd vs Avoch

Donald Sutherland scores the equaliser for Avoch

Avoch's Neil MacKay saves a Utd freekick with his fingertips

Neil Mackay brings down Lukas Geruzel but no penalty was awarded

Pentland Utd lost 2-1 to Avoch after extra time in the quarter final of the Highland Amateur cup today. I arrived at half-time and Utd were 1-0 up.  Avoch equalised early in the 2nd half with a low shot from the edge of the box.

A large crowd of around 150 watched a cracking match with plenty of action, a few bookings and a controversial sending off. Utd's Tony Farquhar came on in the first half of extra time and stayed on the field for only 2 minutes. He went up for an aerial challenge and ref Bob Gunn indicated that he had deliberately elbowed an Avoch player in the face. A straight red card was shown to a distraught Tony. Most thought the decision was harsh.

Both veteran keepers (Michael Gray for Utd and Neil MacKay for Avoch) had excellent saves. 39 year old MacKay was playing his first match in over 10 months, but showed that he had not lost his reflexes. Avoch had the better chances and their defence kept the shackles on the dangerous James Murray and Lukas Geruzel.

Avoch scored in the 2nd minute of extra time with a cracking shot from out wide on the right which whizzed past Gray into the far corner. Utd should have had a penalty when goalie MacKay felled Geruzel, but Bob Gunn waved play on. (see pic above)

At the end, somebody commented that the match was worthy of being the final.

Acks vs Kirkwall Rovers

Rovers had this penalty saved

celebration of first goal

goal number 2

celebration for 2nd goal

Thurso Acks lost 4-0 to Kirkwall Rovers in the quarter finals of the Highland Amateur Cup at the Dammies today. Acks had 5 players missing as they were on holiday in Tenerife, including midfield maestro Jack Halliday and top striker Murray MacKintosh.

Acks had all the play in the first 20 mins and had a goal chalked off for off-side. The islanders soon got into their stride and won a dubious penalty when two players went shoulder to shoulder and the Orkney forward made a dramatic fall. However, Neal Clark made a cracking save. Rovers scored in the last minute of the first half with a fine strike inside the penalty box.

Acks battled away in the 2nd half, but had no firepower up front. Rovers scored mid-way through the second half when a forward broke through and hit a clean strike past Clark. The game was over when the Rovers centre forward rose unchallenged at a corner and fired a powerful header in off the cross-bar from the edge of the box. I left with 5 mins to go (to go to the Pentland Utd match) and Rovers scored late to make it a comfortable  4-0 victory.

Other scores in the cup;

Sleat & Strath 2-4 Muir of Ord Rovers
Pentland Utd 1-2 Avoch (aet) (FT 1-1) pics to follow.
Wick Groats 4-4 John O'Groats (aet). Wick won 4-3 on penalties. John O'Groats were 3-0 up and Wick Groats clawed back 3 to take the tie to extra time. Wick scored another, before JOG equalised to take the tie to penalties.

Semi-final draw;

Kirkwall Rovers vs Avoch
Muir of Ord Rovers vs Wick Groats

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Halkirk vs Wick Groats

Gavin Swanson was booked for this crunching tackle on Graham MacNab

George Groat gives ref Michael McPhee his views on the controversial decision to send off Graham MacNab
Wick Groats beat Halkirk 3-2 in Halkirk tonight. Groats started brightly and had 3 good chances in the first 10 mins before Halkirk stunned them by scoring with their first real attack. Gavin Sutherland collected the ball wide on the right and smashed the ball over trialist keeper Graeme Miller into the far corner. A contender for the goal of the season.

Groats went to pieces after that and Halkirk rattled them for the rest of the half, but neither side created any good chances. Grant MacNab had to be substituted after 20 mins after receiving a nasty head knock.

The half-time talk by manager George Groat worked wonders and Groats scored after only 20 secs. A ball across the face of the goal was swept in at the far post. Groats scored again after 4 minutes. A ball from out wide and into the box found an unmarked forward, who had an easy shot past Lee Allan. For all the goals I was at the wrong end!

Two minutes later the Groats team and management were stunned when Graham MacNab was sent off. Nobody seemed to know why. George Groat was very restrained when he asked ref Michael McPhee to explain the decision.

I had to leave after 20 mins of the 2nd half and as I was walking to the car Groats scored their 3rd. Left back Chris Taylor latched onto a defence splitting pass and slotted the ball past Lee Allan low into the corner. Lee Elder scored the second for Halkirk from a penalty.

Other scores;

John O'Groats 1-4 Pentland Utd
Acks 2 - 4 Castletown
Thistle 0-4 Staxigoe
Watten 2-15 Swifts
Keiss 8-1 FSC
High Ormlie Hotspurs 3-7 Top Joes
Rovers 0-6 Lybster

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Colin MacLeod Cup Final - Acks vs Pentland Utd

Jack Halliday jumps onto scorer Murray MacKintosh in the celebrations

The Colin MacLeod cup final was played in a wet and cold Castletown this afternoon. Hot favourites Pentland Utd never got out of 2nd gear and Thurso Acks fully deserved their 1-0 win. Striker Murray MacKintosh lashed a low shot past Michael Gray from the edge of the box after only 20 mins to win the game.

The Stabs never really bothered Acks goalkeeper Neal Clark, whereas Michael Gray had to make several good stops to keep the score down.

Several Acks players had postponed a booked holiday to play in the final and it turned out to be worthwhile.

Iain Grant was the reporter at the match and it may be his last. He takes over as the new editor of the John O'Groat Journal and Caithness Courier next week.

Next weekend sees 4 Caithness teams in the quarter-finals of the Highland Amateur Cup.

Acks vs Kirkwall Rovers
Wick Groats vs John O'Groats
Pentland Utd vs Avoch
Sleat & Strath vs Muir of Ord Rovers

Monday, 18 June 2012

Swifts vs Lybster (2-1)

Thurso Swifts beat Lybster 2-1 at the Dammies tonight, the first defeat for the village side. I caught the first half and it was 0-0. Swifts started brightly and hit the bar twice in the first 15 mins, but the remaining 30mins was pretty dull.

Keiss lost 7-0 to Thurso Pentlands and Rovers lost 7-3 to Top Joes.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Acks vs John O'Groats

Stuart Sinclair scores John O'Groats equaliser
John O'Groats beat Thurso Acks 4-2 at the Dammies tonight. Acks raced into a 2-0 lead, but Groats pulled one back just before half-time. It was all Groats in the second half and they scored three more goals late on.