Matchday seven for Inverurie Locos saw the beleaguered & battered Fort William travel to the Garioch. You’d need a heart of Kemnay granite not to feel at least some measure of empathy for the Lochaber lament but football is football & boss Cooper & co had to be professional & go about their business properly. Fort were only able to name two substitutes but in the Locos ranks there were debuts for the excellent young goalie Morgan Cook, & the dynamic & mature full back Thomas Reid. Harlaw Park was positively balmy as kick off approached, shirt sleeves or short sleeves the dress code of the day. As sure as a cat is a hairy beast there’ll be a need for the multi layers & high tog semmits at some point but let’s enjoy the temperate stuff for as long as possible. Locos were attacking the Railway End but Fort threatened first with Majewski firing in a wicked cross. Mitchell started as he was to continue, marauding & rampaging down the right flank & he was denied by Kulbacki in the Fort sticks, as was Reid shortly after. Donaghue & Morrison both provided early tests for the debutant Locos keeper, which he handled perfectly. The first goal came on 13 minutes, LEYDEN with a left foot long range effort taking a nick on its way into the onion bag. Kulbacki was giving his all for Fort & bravely dived at the feet of Angus. MacIntyre had to leave the field with a bloody nose briefly, as the red & black current continued to sweep towards Kulbacki. It was 2-0 on 20 minutes, ANGUS neatly finished off a flowing move. A Gauld volley & Souter header went wide with no 3 then arriving on 24 minutes. Greg MITCHELL collected the ball wide & despatched a rising rocket into the far top corner. Five minutes later & unsurprisingly Neil GAULD got in on the act. A shot came back off the over-worked, under-protected goalie & the outcome was as expected. A seemingly endless torrent of shots were raining in on goal and number five came on 45 minutes, LEYDEN with his trademark fast feet & a cool finish. HT 5-0. Yet another Locos debut after the break for the talented and assured Andrew Watt. Nine minutes into the second half & MITCHELL again on the mark. Greg appears to only have been working on worldy finishes in training with another piledriver finish. The Locos fans were willing keeper Cook to bag a clean sheet on his debut & he needed to react brilliantly to repel a viciously struck drive by Jordan Morrison, Morgan diving low & pushing the ball to safety with his legs. It was 7-0 on the hour mark, GAULD finishing from a tidy Angus cross. Mitchell was now gunning for his hat-trick & was popping up all over the final third looking for what would have been as popular goal as Harlaw Park had seen in a long while. He was felled in the box & more in hope than expectation scooped up the ball & tried to ease towards the penalty spot without Neil Gauld noticing! Mission impossible & Gauld placed the ball on the spot. The attempt wasn’t struck cleanly & Kulbacki saved down to his right. Gauld was then pushed over inside the box but the offence wasn’t seen. Glen Donaghue was a lively character all afternoon, engaging in some well-natured patter with the crowd & his opponents but over-stepped the mark with referee Leslie. The match official had no appetite to expel a Fort player on another tough afternoon, but was left without any option & off he went for “effing & blinding”. Kulbacki wasn’t lacking in guts & again was down amongst the studs to save from Herd. Mitchell was still on Operation Hat-trick & smashed a drive a foot too high. Eleven to go & Angus had a brace after finishing from under the bar. Fort William concentration was close to zero now & they stood & watched the home side taking a free kick without any attempt to stop Locos. GAULD strolling in for yet another hat-trick for Inverurie Loco Works. Neil then had further shots held & saw a lob go just too high.He also adopted panto baddie mode briefly when failing to square for a Mitchell tap in! LEYDEN completed his hat-trick on 89 minutes. There had been substitutions & various injury breaks in the second half but referee Leslie blew up right on 90 minutes, a decision no-one could grumble with. Locos had bagged double figures in a league game for the third time & the first in eleven years. Morgan Cook had become the fourteenth Loco Works keeper to be on the clean sheet board & the sixth Locos goal was senior strike number 1600. The win saw Locos sit in fifth in this still embryonic table & only two points off the top. For Fort William, Kulbacki, Morrison, Taylor & Majewski could form the basis of improvement, Taylor in particular. Supporters of north football want the Atlantic coast represented & hopefully the infrastructure improvements at Claggan Park can be replicated on the field of play.
Tuesday night sees the delayed first match in the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup. Banks o Dee visit Harlaw Park & kick off is 8pm. Saturday has Inverurie travelling to gorgeous Grantown in the SHFL.
Locos – COOK T.REID HERD DUFF SOUTER (WATT), RENNIE (BROADHURST) MITCHELL MCCABE (CRISP) GAULD ANGUS LEYDEN, UNUSED SUBS MICHIE GRANT MCLEAN A.REID
Fort – KULBACKI ZINKO MACINTYRE MACKINNON FRASER MCKILLOP MORRISON TAYLOR MAJEWSKI (LOPEZ) CORBETT DONAGHUE, UNUSEDS SUB GILCHRIST
Stats – Locos First: Shots ON 19-3, Shots OFF 14-4, Fouls 10-13, Corners 11-2, Offside 5-0., Yellows 0-4, Reds 0-1.