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Elements to the fore as points are shared in Rothesay!
20 March 2013
Marine Harvest South Division One
Bute 2-2 Glenorchy
Glenorchy's first away trip of the season was to be one of the longest (and coldest), with a visit to Rothesay to take on newly relegated Bute. This was to be Bute's opening game of the season and with both sides tipped to be challenging for the championship by many pundits, an entertaining game was expected.
What wasn't to be expected however was the severe strength of the wind which whirled around 'The Meadows' as both sides warmed up. Glenorchy won the toss of the coin and elected to utilise the elements in their favour in the opening period.
Glen were without John McNulty from the previous week's starting 12 courtesy of a hand injury and his slot was taken by the returning Duncan 'Doch' MacDougall who slotted into defence with McNulty's wing centre position being filled by Ewan Murray. Alec MacPherson was also absent due to work and his place in defence was taken by his brother, Grant who had missed last week's win over Aberdour.
As was to be expected with the elements it was the visitors who opened the fastest and this was rewarded when a penalty was awarded by referee, David Mitchell after just 3 minutes for a kick by a Bute defender. Kieran MacKay, who was still struggling with flu but managed to start, assumed responsibility but his low drive was saved by Bute stopper, Kevin Queen.
The pressure from the away side continued with Scott Livingstone and John Sartain firing just off target as the search for the opening goal went on. The Glen midfield of Murray, Findlay Ross and Duncan Smith were first to loose balls and with the wind meaning Bute goal-hits were just about reaching halfway Glenorchy were playing very high up the pitch.
Half Backs, Fulton Ronald and Grant MacPherson were totally dominant and their long hitting in the wind was proving very effective. Bute's John MacCallum had the hosts first chance with a shot which sailed just over the bar and Iain MacDonald had almost a carbon copy drive moments later which skimmed the top of the bar.
Glen were hoping to make the most of the wind before the tables were turned in the second half and with 30 minutes played switched James Livingstone to half back with MacPherson assuming a full forward role.
This move paid dividends immediately when Ross won the ball in the middle of the park and slipped it to Sartain who fed MacPherson who, in-turn, unleased a 30 yard drive into the roof of the net to make the scoreline 1-0 to Glenorchy.
Grant MacPherson was dominant in both defence and attack, and his stunning strike gave Glen the lead.
Clearly buoyed by this goal, the visitors added a second just 2 minutes later when a corner from the left from Smith was collected by MacKay who got the ball under control then guided it into the corner with a calm finish to put Glenorchy 2-0 ahead.
Sartain and MacPherson both forced Queen into action as the half came to an end but it was the home side who were next to threaten when they won a penalty of their own after Glenorchy keeper, Andrew Smith fell in the area and Mitchell had no doubts about the award. MacDonald stepped up but his powerful strike whistled just over the bar as the scoreline remained 2-0 to Glenorchy at the interval.
Glen coach, John Smith was delighted with his side's showing but reiterated the fact that it would be extremely tough against the substantial wind in the second half and with this in mind he brought MacPherson back into defence which meant James Livingstone resumed his attacking duties.
The Glen defence of MacDougall, Scott McKillop, MacPherson and Ronald knew they were going to be under vast pressure but they began extremely well with the clean hitting of the half backs once again standing out.
Bute's main threat, Iain MacDonald was being tightly marked by MacDougall but he escaped and his flashing angled strike flew just past Smith's post as the home side cranked up the pressure. Player-Manager, Graham Fisher came on in the forwardline with James Dunn dropping back to the wing for Bute.
Glenorchy's forwardline, MacKay, Sartain, James Livingstone and Scott Livingstone were being starved of possession as Glen struggled to make headway into the Bute half. MacCallum and MacDonald both had drives well dealt with by Smith with his feet as the half progressed.
Bute were then handed a lifeline with just 20 minutes to go when they were awarded a free hit 25 yards from goal which was very quickly slipped to Iain MacDonald who fired high into the net to reduce the deficit to 2-1. Glenorchy hotly disputed the goal with claims that Mitchell didn't blow his whistle and players weren't the required yards but the goal stood.
Bute were clearly encouraged by this and just 5 minutes later they had a goal disallowed for a debatable kick by McCallum who had slipped the ball into the net past the onrushing Smith.
Conor Sartain then came on up front in place of Scott Livingstone just before Bute brought themselves level when that man MacDonald was quickest onto a long ball and took the ball past the advancing Smith and stroked the ball into an unguarded net to make it 2-2 after 79 minutes.
The high wind made it a tough day for both defences.
If there was going to be a winner now it was likely to be the home side who notched as they began to fling more bodies forward with the wind showing no signs of letting up. Steven 'JT' Turner came on for goalscorer MacKay with time running out for both sides.
There was to be no further clear cut chances for either side though and David Mitchell brought the game to a conclusion with the scoreline 2-2.
A thoroughly entertaining game between two sides who should be in the reckoning come the end of the campaign with a draw just about the right result. A bigger game of two halves will not be seen all season.
Glen will be pleased with a point but after being 2 goals to the good at half time, they will be a tad aggrieved they didn't head back to Dalmally with all 2 points in tow. Next up for Glen is a home tie against Taynuilt in the league. After losing the corresponding fixture 2-1 last season the motivation is already there as that defeat stung a lot for the Dalmally men. Bute, meanwhile, face a long trek to Fife to take on Aberdour.
Glenorchy: Andrew Smith, Duncan MacDougall, Scott McKillop, Fulton Ronald, Grant MacPherson, Ewan Murray, Findlay Ross, Duncan Smith, John Sartain, Scott Livingstone, James Livingstone, Kieran MacKay. Subs used: Conor Sartain, Steven Turner.