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20 July 2011

Scottish Hydro Premier Division

Glenorchy 1-3 Fort William


The Mart Park in Dalmally was the venue for this Scottish Hydro Premier League fixture as Glenorchy welcomed the visit of title challengers Fort William on a day when the sun was splitting the sky which meant the pitch was 'in the best condition it had ever been' according to Glenorchy coach John MacPherson!

The home side were well aware that this was going to be a very tough fixture but were looking from an improved showing from last week's 7-1 trouncing by Lovat in the Camanachd Cup.

However, many spectators were still entering the ground when the home side hit the front to the suprise of many observers. Sandy Leiper, who had taken up a full forward starting slot found himself in acres of space after being slipped a pass from Kenny MacDougall and he took his time to fire low into the corner past Fort keeper Paul MacKay to give the Glen a dream start.

Although Fort William were a few players short of full-strength, most noticeably Scotland captain Gary Innes. they had to win this game to remain within striking distance of leaders Kyles Athletic and responded by crafting a chance which was snatched wide of the target by Gordie MacKinnon. The midfield battle between Fort's Niall McPhee and Glen's Alec MacPherson was proving to be an interesting and hard fought encounter which enthralled the crowd.

The equaliser that Fort had been threatening finally arrived after just 15 minutes when wing forward Daniel Stewart cut in from the right and thundered a shot high past Glenorchy's number 1 Graeme MacKechnie. The away side had the bit between their teeth now and went 2-1 in front on the half hour mark when Stewart got his 2nd of the day with a low strike from 20 yards past MacKechnie.

As was the case in the previous week the Glen were creating more chances than usual this season but just couldn't find a way past the excellent MacKay. They were consequently made to suffer for this after 38 minutes when young Fort forward Ryan Campbell slotted home after a goalmouth scramble to put the vistiors in 3-1 ahead at half time.

The home side made one switch at the interval which saw veteran servant Andy MacLean introduced in place of the injured Kenny MacDougall. This didn't do anything to disrupt the flow of chances which were being made and Duncan Smith and Sandy Leiper both saw efforts saved by MacKay.

Then, after 60 minutes Glen's task suddenly became a whole lot harder when goalscorer Leiper was sent off for a moment of madness after reacting badly to a late challenge from Fort's Neil Robertson he was shown a straight red for violent conduct. There could be no complaint about referee Dunkie Kerr's decision and Glenorchy would have to see out the game with 11 men.

Manager Allan MacKechnie rejigged his depleted side by introducing Findlay Ross for Andy MacLean with Ross given the tasl of running himself into the ground and making a nuisance of himself for Fort William's full backs, Addy Roberstson and James Clark. Ross, infact found the target just minutes after coming on from distance which MacKay saved with his hand.

If anybody had just turned up at the game and heard there was a side with a man less they would have been hard pushed to guess that it was the Glen. Their players seemed to react first to loose balls and the 50 50s were going the home team's way. But, Fort were always looking lively on the counter attack but the home defence of Scott MacKillop, Grant MacPherson, Ewan Murray and Duncan MacDougall were in outstdanding form and were letting nothing past them.

The remainder of the game was mainly played out in the Fort half with Glenorchy unable to find a way to the back of the net. Efforts from John McNulty, Kieran MacKay and Ross again forced MacKay into action but he wasn't to be beaten.

The match finished 3-1 to Fort William and they were very relieved to leave with both points after being, perhaps unexpectedly, outplayed by the botttom side in the league. Glenorchy will take a lot of belief out of this game and there were positives everywhere you looked. Time is, however, running out for Glen to start picking up points to make some sort of challenge to avoid a swift return to South Division One and these chances that are being created will need to be turned into goals sooner or later.

Next up for the home side is a clash which manager MacKechnie has described as possibly the 'toughest game of the season', with a trip north to Badenoch to tackle the reigning Premier League champions Newtonmore. The match gets underway at the slightly later time of 3pm due to Newtonmore's 2nd team being in action at home on the same day.

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