Press & Journal Highland League Inverurie Loco Works 1 Cove Rangers 2 Saturday August 12th 2017

Inverurie Locos: Mathieson, Laing, Mitchell, McCabe, Souter, Crisp, Charlesworth, Donaldson (Cooper), Gauld, Hunter, Leyden. Unused subs – Gordon, Dawson, Reid, Watt, Duffy, Cook.

Rangers: McKenzie, Campbell, Milne, Strachan, Redford, Kelly, Park, Burnett (Lawrie), Megginson (McDonald), Scully (Masson), Stott. Unused subs – Gray, Robertson, McCafferty

Referee – Alex Shepherd

Match Stats – Locos first. Shots On 4-10, shots off 2-7, Fouls 16-18, Corners 6-4, Offside 5-0, Yellows 1-2. Inverurie Locos went in to this clash with the favourites for the title minus their engine room pairing of McLean & Duff, their most experienced defender in Broadhurst, the injured Rennie & keeper Booth. Written off & expected to concede a cricket score to their vastly more experienced & streetwise opponents, this young group produced a display to be proud of, & indeed Cove’s celebrations at the final whistle was testimony to this. On the upside for the Railwaymen, Messrs Hunter & Gauld were finally able to take to the field together. Harlaw Park was drenched in August sunshine with the Locos, unfamiliarly, attacking the Harlaw Road end in the first period. Scully had the first pop at goal, shooting wide early doors. Crisp was short with a backpass forcing Mathieson into a brace of excellent, brave stops. Scully & Leyden traded attempts on goal before an exceptionally soft free kick gifted Cove a chance to take the lead that didn’t materialise. Stott drew another top notch Mathieson save as Cove were ahead in shots upon goal although Locos were putting up a fine effort. Half-hearted Rangers calls for a handball in the Locos box were met with no reaction from referee Shepherd. Football matches often hinge on pivotal moments & the first one went against the homesters. A grounded Burnett kicked out at Hunter, generally an offence, that if seen, can only be a red card. Mr Shepherd proffered a yellow card & Rangers retained a full compliment of players. Locos fans in the stand were muttering about their four reds received this term and were using the C word. (Consistency). LAING was helping out his side manfully in a full back berth & the luckless player was to turn the ball into his own net for the crucial opening goal. That old mantra about keeping backpasses outside the line of the sticks wasn’t followed & Cove were ahead on thirty five minutes. Harsh on Locos but the heads didn’t go down and after Stott headed straight at Mathieson from close range, the prodigal Garioch son, skipper for the day, popped up to net a richly deserved leveller. Neil GAULD received a ball to his feet right on the stroke of half time & showed his trademark calmness & class to pass the ball into the onion bag. What a wonderful moment for the Inverurie lad & his adoring supporters. HT 1-1. Milne was performing well again and had a header cleared off the line, Gauld was almost played in from a Hunter centre, before Locos were to be undone yet again in controversial circumstances. If this group of players didn’t have bad luck, they wouldn’t have any! The softest of free kicks was given against McCabe on the edge of the Locos box. Scully showed his experience to move the ball across the corner of the penalty area a few yards to a far more favourable angle & turned what was probably going to be cross into a strike for goal. This was made possible by the correct position of the free kick not being marked by the referee’s foam, as is customary, with the more advantageous position being foamed instead! Ignoring that oversight it was still a well struck SCULLY free kick that flew into the net appearing to take a touch en route. On an afternoon that saw a whopping thirty four breaks in play for ‘fouls’, it was perhaps nothing short of inevitable that one of these interventions would lead to the deciding goal. One can only hope that the whistle received medical attention at the end & that a replacement pea was to hand. Two – one to Cove after fifty three minutes. A Hunter header should have seen Locos back level but landed in the arms of McKenzie. Inverurie fought to the end & were genuinely worth a share of the spoils but alas it finished 2-1 to Cove, who have assembled the quality & depth of squad that would see anything other than a title win deemed a major surprise. Cove had failed to score from open play & needed moments out of the bizarre & the serendipitous envelopes to gather the points in triplicate. Their ball retention & use of the full width of the park was at times very impressive. For Locos its three points out of twelve but lots of good showings on the day. Man of the match was Mark Souter who excelled all the way through. Next (Sat 19th) is a tough trip to Sutherland to face the other Rangers, the red Brora type. Inverurie’s record against the current incarnation of the Cattachs is poor, but boss Cooper will have talismanic skipper McLean available for selection. Saturday the 26th then sees the Gordon derby at Harlaw v Huntly.

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