Halkirk United ready for top-of-the-table clash at Fort William
Halkirk United will be aiming to continue their superb start to the North Caledonian League campaign when they take on Fort William in a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.
The Anglers are in confident mood ahead of their trip to Claggan Park after picking up six wins from their opening seven league fixtures. Halkirk are a point behind leaders Fort with two games in hand.
Ewan McElroy's side showed again why they deserve to be seen as title contenders when they thumped Golspie 5-0 at King George V Park last weekend. McElroy rated it as probably the Anglers' best display of the season so far and the Sutherland club promptly sacked their manager Mark McKernie.
There were two goals each from James Mackintosh and Aidan Reid, with Jonah Martens getting the other. Martens also missed a penalty.
"Saturday was probably our strongest performance of the season and one of the most comprehensive performances I’ve seen from a Halkirk United team," McElroy said. "Everybody played their part and the credit firmly lies with the players in terms of their commitment and determination on the day.
"We were a constant threat going forward, and the movement and tempo the boys managed to maintain was impressive.
"I thought defensively we were resolute and you could see how eager the boys were to keep a clean sheet. We haven't had many this season and it was another real plus point.
"I really can't be critical of any aspect of the performance. The challenge for the squad will be if they can replicate it this week and on a regular basis.
"It’s something we have struggled with in the past, and with the run of games ahead it’s a massive challenge for the group."
Now the Anglers are targeting a first win against Fort William.
"We have a really difficult run of games ahead," McElroy said. "No disrespect to Golspie, as they are still a top side, but they are sitting third bottom while Fort William are leading the pack and scoring at will.
"We know Saturday is going to be a really difficult challenge. We have never beaten Fort William and they are in good form themselves. That being said, we will travel down with a strong group of boys and everyone is looking forward to the challenge ahead."
Fort held on to top spot after a 4-1 victory at Alness on Saturday. The Easter Ross side took an early lead through Luke Mackay but Fort hit back with goals from Andrew Sneddon, Martin Munro, Andrew Maclean and Davie Neil.
Loch Ness kept in touch with their title rivals after a 3-1 win against Bonar Bridge.
Thurso will be looking to build on their encouraging display against Golspie a fortnight ago when they welcome St Duthus to the Dammies on Saturday.
The Vikings were 3-0 and 4-1 behind in that one but came battling back to make the final scoreline 4-3. Their scheduled match against Inverness Athletic last Saturday was postponed as Ferry Brae Park was waterlogged.
Manager Scott Davidson felt there were plenty of positives to take from the Golspie match. He has been pleased with the numbers at training and the morale within the squad, and the immediate aim is to get off the bottom of the North Caley table after one win and five defeats from their opening six league games.
North Caledonian League results: Alness United 1, Fort William 4; Golspie 0, Halkirk United 5; Loch Ness 3, Bonar Bridge 1.
Fixtures for Saturday, November 11 – North Caledonian League: Bonar Bridge v Golspie; Clachnacuddin "A" v Orkney; Fort William v Halkirk United (1pm); Invergordon v Alness United; Inverness Athletic v Loch Ness; Thurso v St Duthus (1pm).
Battling win for Caithness United U14s
Caithness United under-14s put in a battling performance to beat Tain Rovers 3-2 on Sunday in their latest match in the Moray Youth Development League, thanks to a double from Matthew Cook and another from Seth Bunch.
Caithness coach Stewart Ross said: “Our game lacked the level of quality we would expect. But, given that the boys hadn’t played a game for four weeks, this was no real surprise.
"However, what we lacked in quality the boys certainly made up for in commitment and a will to win. Our lads really had to roll their sleeves up after twice being pegged back after taking the lead, and on the balance of play and chances created I’d say we deserved the victory.
"However, we will be looking to regain our standards quickly going into our next few games.”