FOR the second Saturday in a row at Harlaw Park, Inverurie Locos took control from the start against North East rivals Turriff United and a full three points collected leaves them sixteen points behind new leaders Cove Rangers but with four games in hand. Could the title race still have a few twists?
A wearisome Turriff side going into the fixture on the back of Aberdeenshire Shield Semi Final heartache were up against it, going behind after only six minutes.
The opener was all down to creative play on the right. Nicky Gordon’s well flighted cross straight to the the head of Marc YOUNG. Steven Coutts failed to hold his close range effort, Young heading home the rebound.
Losing such an early goal clearly rocked the Turriff defence, allowing Inverurie to put players under pressure and, as a direct result, force simple errors. A poorly cleared in-swinging corner from John Maitland should have been punished, had Ross and Gordon not both gone for the resulting half volley.
Locos again should have added to their early lead as Neil McLean’s long cross found Neil Gauld in the box with plenty of space, but the little striker was unable to control the ball properly.
The second goal was a straightforward penalty award after Dave McKenzie upended Craig Ross. Neil GAULD stepped up and dispatched it straight down the middle.
As the game began to slip away from Turriff, Andy Hutchinson registered their first effort on target with a optimistic 40 yards strike, with Andy Reid forced to palm the ball round the post for a corner.
A gift of a third goal on the half hour sealed the points when left back HUTCHINSON could only divert John Maitland’s inswinging cross into his own net.
Inverurie Locos now had full control of the match and looked to maintain it by flooding the midfield to ensure that any Turriff possession was put under extreme pressure. Neil Gauld’s ability to run off the final defender remained a constant source of pressure as the match approached half time. Showing his ability, he controlled a long ball from Gordon whilst still advancing on goal, Gauld twisted and turned the defenders around him before hooking his shot over Coutts, but just wide of the far post.
Former Inverurie midfielder Dave MCKENZIE reduced the leeway seven minutes after the restart, heading a Donald Fraser cross ball into Andy Reid’s left corner.
The goal allowed the game to open up, creating a high tempo period of possession for both sides. Although shots on goal were limited, the end to end football proved to be incredibly entertaining.
However the best goal of the game was left to last. Neil McLean running half the length of the park unchallenged before laying the ball up for Clark BAIN to sweep his right foot shot curled effort high into Coutts’ top right hand corner. A real captain’s contribution!
The stand side Hospitality attendees, as usual out en masse, were treated to a blue wig wearing Fraser Skene requesting Tommy Wilson’s autograph and every Locos player in turn being called “his second favourite player”. Unfortunately Fraser’s attempts at catching a ball falling in towards the stand resulted in him falling in a heap to the ground, for waht was . “laugh of the day”.
Before the game the home support gave rapturous applause to the Kellands P7 football team who have battled to the North finals of the Lloyds TSBSoccer Sevens event, after a gruelling day of qualifiers at the Aberdeen Sports Village.
Next stop for them on, Wednesday, March 21, is St Johnstone’s MacDiarmid Park where they will face sides from all over the top half of Scotland
Inverurie Loco Works: Reid, Michie, McLean, Bain, Thomson, Park, Ross, Young (Strachan 74), Gauld, Gordon, Maitland
Subs: Wilson, Buchan, Coull, Adams
Turriff United: Coutts, Chalmers, Hutchison, Bowden, Anderson, Young, Fraser, McKenzie, Gauld, Ligertwood, Cowie (Allan 72)
Subs: Taylor, Harris, Herd, Simpson
Referee: G Fraser
Home first team coach Iain Alexander stressed the importance of starting a game well and keeping going. He said, “We did well from start to finish, we kept the ball well. Three good goals in the first half, it could’ve been a couple more, Neil Gauld had chances
“The whole tempo thing is what we do at training all the time, it’s all about closing down, winning the ball. Just before kick off, it was a toss up between Scott Buchan and me for the bench, we had a few players missing, but we can still put out a strong starting eleven.
“We stressed at half time not to give them any chances, a great header though from Dave McKenzie, that’s his forte. We were disappointed with that but pleased with the way we reacted. It could’ve gone the other way but we went in search of another goal
“Clarky Bain, had goal of the game, he does it all the time in training, we encourage him to go for it all the time.”
And looking ahead to this Saturday’s Breedon Aggregates Highland League Cup Second Round tie at Grant Park, 3pm kick-off to a finish, he added, “We went up to Lossiemouth and controlled the game but ended up beaten 2-1 so won’t take them lightly. A good team at home but if we play the way we can, we have a chance of progressing.
“All we can do is keep winning and put pressure on the teams above, we’ll take it one game at a time“
Voted Sponsors Man of the Match was right back for the past two winning games, the popular diminutive figure that is Jamie Michie. The Kemnay Colony Park product was playing down his accolade post match, “I don’t think I deserved it, I thought Nicky Gordon and John Maitland were exceptional. But I’ll take it. I’m just glad to be back playing. Two games on the trot for me, hopefully I play at Lossiemouth too.
“I love playing for the “Locies”, signing a new contract recently shows how happy I am to be here.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve been trying to get teams turning. We realised once we got a couple of balls over the top it was working for us. It worked against the Broch as well Keithy Thomson played in at sweeper, I thought he did well.
“Clarky’s goal just finished off the game. It was coming although they had come back into it. A good goal from Dave McKenzie. We were disappointed to lose the goal, the cross should have been stopped. Dave is a cracking header of a ball
“We want to win silverware so we have to go to Lossie and beat them. We won’t win the League but want to get close to the top two as we can but we have to be trying as hard as we can to win the League Cup”