INVERURIE Locos kicked off their eleventh season in Highland League football with a narrow one goal victory over a Lossiemouth side which matched their opponents in terms of determination and commitment but could not grab the vital leveller.
Locos were without the suspended goalkeeper Andy Reid as well as key midfielder Clark Bain which meant that ex-Brora Rangers players Daniel Bell and Scott Begg made their competitive debuts. Injury ruled out home skipper Tommy Wilson while holidays meant Neil McLean, Jamie Michie, Nicky Gordon and Kieran Adams were also out of contention
The Coasters, with Craig Morrison back in the striking set up after his summer shift from Turriff United, could have been a goal down with less than a minute on the clock. Bell’s first long kick out came to Neil Gauld whose perfect first touch at the edge of the box gave him momentum. Coming up against him in a sandwich were the two visiting pivots but David Watt’s first big call was to wave away penalty claims
Marc Young’s electric pace running on to Pat Vigurs pass in eight minutes saw him get right in on goal coming in from the right, but a brave Darren McConnochie read his intentions and saved from an acute angle
Lossie were unlucky not to take the lead at the midway point. Colin Charlesworth laid the ball back to Tony Ross whose well flighted cross was met by Martin McMullan, the central midfielder’s header clearing Bell’s upright by inches.
Six minutes later Locos looked odds on to score, John Maitland’s hard driven cross across the face of the goal fell to Young at the back post. The keeper saved from close range and Scott Begg’s overhead hook went over the top
The home front three linked up well in 39 minutes, Gauld and Young interchanging on the right and the ex-Formartine winger’s cross was just slightly high to the head of Craig Ross who could not get the required downward purchase
However it was 1-0 in 43 minutes. John Maitland, out of nothing, hammered in a volley from around 20 yards which McConnachie could only see spinning off his body straight to Neil Gauld who instinctively rifled home from 12 yards.
Gauld looked the pick of the forwards on the park and early in the second half was not far off with a snapshot, then he got in behind Bryan Bell who appeared to pull him back but the prolific scorer still got a shot in, which “Mini” pushed away
In the closing 20 minutes saw the Coasters gathering belief in their ability to get something out of the game. The industrious McMullan sent in a well placed shot which Bell saved in proper clutching style to his left.
But with eight minutes left, the same player was extremely unfortunate to see a header come off the crossbar and a big melee ensuing ended with the home goal escaping unscathed.
The closing moments saw Kevin Neish come close with a header and Gauld nearly nicking a second but in between it had to be a perfectly timed dive at the feet of sub Grant Milne by the impressive Bell who can be very happy with his stand in performance.
Inverurie Locos: D Bell, Thom son, Scott, Vigurs, Park, Broadhurst, C Ross (Neish 81), Begg, Gauld, Young, Maitland
Subs: Crosby, Coull, R Strachan, McIntosh
Lossiemouth : McConnachie, A Ross, McKenzie, B Bell, Stuart, McMullan, Charlesworth (Milne 67), Flett, Archibald (Wilson 63), Morrison (Smith 70), Grant
Subs: Bagley, Miele
Referee: David Watt
After the match Locos Co-Manager Kenny Coull, “It was our aim to get the three points. After a tough pre season we were just happy to go out and get three points against a tough hard working Lossie team.
“I thought we lost our shape a bit last twenty minutes, maybe more to tiredness. The guys missing gave others the chance to impress for next week.
“Our defence coped very well, Daniel Bell in goals was very composed, picking things out of the air. He was very steady. Gauldy (Neil Gauld) was very sharp and deserved his goal. A second goal would have let the crowd relax and let us relax. At 1-0 it always gives us hope.
“A good start and we look forward to our next game this Saturday away at Strathspey Thistle”
Meanwhile a very impressive competitive debutant was former Brora Rangers keeper Daniel Bell deputising for the suspended Andy Reid. He said, “I enjoyed it. Lossiemouth played well, they played a long ball game and had a couple of chances but overall we deserved to win. The boys in front of me were good, I’m just getting to know them, hopefully it’ll work out well
“Andy Reid is a great keeper, good to work with, I only met goalkeeping coach Chris Ainslie last week so I’m thoroughly enjoying it
“It will be hard to displace Andy when he’s available, he’ll be trying his hardest to get back into the team. We’ll build from this, hopefully I’m in the team for the game at Strathspey”
Looking back on Tommy Wilson’s Testimonial in which he conceded eight of the eleven goals he added, “The Aberdeen defeat didn’t really affect me, it was a friendly and they stepped it up in the second half “
Locos travel to Grantown to take on Strathspey on Saturday, August 8. Kick-off is 3pm.