INVERURIE Locos defeated Peterhead 2-1 at Harlaw Park on Friday night (July 13) in front of a healthy crowd, half looking to see how their team is shaping up for the SHFL season, the other looking to see how their one is preparing for playing newco Rangers in Division Three in their opening fixture on August 11.
Locos were without holidaying skipper Clark Bain, Scott Begg and one or two others but started well. They created the first serious opportunity in 11 minutes, Craig Ross positioned himself well to meet a cross from the left. His header came off the upright and new signing Andy Bagshaw, playing against his old team, scooped the rebound over.
Fifteen minutes later central defender Kieran Adams, looking very confident coming forward, hit a swerving effort which flashed off the underside of the bar
The Blue Toon boys were finding it a bit hard to impose themselves in the final third but that changed on the half hour. A loose pass across the face of the goal allowed new striker Stephen Maguire to work into space but fired wide off his left foot. Within seconds at the other end, John Maitland, playing centre midfield, hit a 35 yarder on the turn but his high shot was well clutched by Mark McCallum
Maguire got between two defenders to try his luck, this time with a high rising right foot shot, while minutes later Scott McLaughlin with a bicycle kick forced Stewart Gray to acrobatically turn the effort away
The first chance of the second half fell to the visitors, trialist Robbie Winters setting up Ryan Strachan who tried to place his shot but Gray dived left to save
The opening goal fell to Locos. Stuart McKay, looking sharper and wilier as the game wore on was starting to put the pressure on his old team, and played a neat ball in from the right. Second half sub Neil GAULD was slightly off balance but did perfectly to force the ball past a wrong footed McCallum
Seven minutes later Peterhead veteran Graeme Sharp, playing in an unaccustomed right back role, cut in from the right, and thundered a left foot piledriver in off the underside of the bar
But the winning goal was scored by Stuart MCKAY. Fourteen yards out, he did a quick turn, positioned himself well then forced his shot in off the right post, past the young keeper
Late on Neil McLean was the next Locos player to strike woodwork while Stewart “Billy” Gray secured the win with another diving save, this time to his left
Locos:.Gray, Park, Scott, Maitland, Adams, Broadhurst, Ross, Stewart, Bagshaw, McKay, McLean
Subs: Gauld, Gordon, Souter, .Mcintosh, Graham, Milne
Peterhead: .McCallum, Sharp, Noble, Ross, McDonald, Smith, Strachan, Redman, McAllister, Maguire, McLaughlin
Subs: Bavidge, Deasley, Kelly, Alexander, Trialist, Jarvie
Ref D Watt
After the match Locos co-boss Kenny Coull said, “We were professional throughout, and kept their chances to a minimum. Our guys looked fit, they gave us a good workout, I hope we gave them a good workout. All in all, it was a good score for us. We were creating chances, it was not backs to the wall stuff, the guys have to take confidence.
“I thought Kieran Adams and Ryan “Chopper” Broadhurst were fantastic at the back, Kieran up against Rory McAllister then Martin Bavidge, you won’t get bigger players than that in the SHFL. Kieran coped well, McAllister is of high quality so I think our boys playing against that calibre gives them confidence and we have high hopes for Kieran.
“The whole back four was solid, marshalled by Stewart “Billy” Gray, he made a good save at the end of the first half, but needs to sharpen up a bit on the feet.
“Our football in training is all about ball work and fitness. There are a few guys to come back in like Clark Bain and Scott Begg, they will need games. There is a happy medium knowing players have enough game time going into the Montrose game.”
At the end of what had been a momentous day in Scottish football with Peterhead effectively seeing their automatic promotion hopes to Division Two disappear following the inclusion of Rangers in their division, boss Jim McInally took time to praise their opponents, saying, “Inverurie Locos are a good side, they were a good side when we played them in the Scottish Cup. There are some wily foxes who’ve been around a bit. Locos will do well this season. This is why teams come up to the Highlands pre-season, they know they’ll get a tough game. It was a decent game.
“We won the other night and I didn’t shout about it, I won’t shout about losing this one. It’s all about fitness, that aspect looks not bad as we finished the game well but we missed a few sitters. Whatever individual mistakes there were for the loss of the goals, it’s better happening now than when the real action starts. Stephen Maguire had a few shots, that’s his first 45 of the season, the improvement in the players will come with game time.”
This Saturday Locos make their regular pre-season trip away to face old junior foes St Andrews in what is a key build up game for the following Saturday’s Ramsdens Cup match at Montrose
To add extra spice to the game, St Andrews play for once a year against various opposition for the Aaron Lofting Memorial Trophy in memory of an ex player. Auchinleck Talbot won it last year and they have chosen Locos to be this year’s opponents.
On Tuesday night, July 24, Locos travel to Aberdeen for their final friendly. Banks O’Dee, managed by former Locos bosses Kevin and Doug Will, with a 7.45pm kick off.