LUCKLESS LOCOS LEFT IN FIVE O’CLOCK SHADOW
Breedon Highland Football League Saturday January 26th 2019 Brora Rangers 1 Inverurie Locos 0 Rangers – Malin Pickles A MacDonald Williamson Nicolson Morrison MacLeod (Brindle) MacLean Sutherland Mackay Gillespie (Campbell). Unused subs Docherty N MacDonald Davidson Ross McCarthy Locos – A Reid T Reid Herd Michie Souter Broadhurst Hunter McLean Gauld (Mitchell) Angus Watt. Unused subs Duff Crisp Rennie Leyden Bolton Cook Referee Alan Proctor. This pulsating clash between two of the biggest clubs in north football was book-ended between two pieces of calamitous mayhem! There appeared to be a basic error by the officials pre-match, in failing to check the colours of both clubs, something sometimes done in the midweek ahead of a fixture. Home keeper Malin appeared at the mouth of the tunnel wearing a yellow outfit, a direct clash with the Locos away strip, & there were raised voices & gnashing of teeth as he was forced to change into a green outfit. The home keeper was actually really lucky not to be shown a red card such was his reaction. Rather late for a panto & the players finally took to the field at ten minutes past three. An unseemly start to proceedings at level five of our professional game, although Brian Rix would have proud, with all it missed being someone’s shorts unexpectedly falling down! Locos were unbeaten in five league meets against Rangers under boss Cooper, after previously losing the first seven SHFL matches against this opponent in their current incarnation. Worth noting that of those seven reverses, six were by a single goal with the fixtures in Sutherland laced with controversy. Brora still harbour hopes of winning the title & were expected to start this match at a ferocious speed. The groundstaff did really well to get this fixture played as heavy rain had followed midweek frosts, brilliant work by the locals. There was no standing water on the playing surface, only on the surrounding areas. Some supporters thought the game had been the victim of a late call off, with ‘Gok Wangate’ holding up proceedings. Finally underway & Angus burst forward but was pulled back by a raised flag before Brora bundled the ball home at the far post but the ball was clearly out in the build up. Andy Hunter rose highest to nod the ball down for Angus but he couldn’t get a shot away. A MacLeod flick flashed wide with the utterly baffling call to award a corner laying another marker down for an afternoon of the eccentric & the puzzling. The instant consternation from the away side coupled by the home players sprinting back for the obvious goal kick confirming the genuine mistake. Michie set Angus away up the right flank with his centre being swished over by Gauld. MacDonald caught his shot true & forced Andy Reid into his first of a catalogue of brilliant stops. Ryan Broadhurst was harshly yellowed for his first foul of the contest. If this was going to be the true tariff for a yellow card then very few of those afield would leave without a caution. Locos were sticking in on a sticky heavy surface & refusing to roll over to the homesters. A McLean corner touched the Brora bar on the way over, Malin had it under control. Zander Sutherland is a wonderful talent but his over the ball foul on Michie was a shocker & worthy of a red card every day of the week & twice on Sunday. It was a head scratcher of the first order to work out how the foul could be given without any card or a chat. No help was proffered by the standside assistant referee. A pity the officials don’t work more as a team to help each other’s miss the game changing moments.A player with a poorer pedigree than Jamie Michie could have fired up the aftermath handbags. The Locos bench were, with full justification, flummoxed & feeling really hard done by at this stage. MacLean had Reid stooping low to field, with Michie then incredibly being chatted to despite being the recipient of the terrible tackle moments earlier. Hunter was yellowed for a trip, then Mackay left the deck with a two footed challenge that had all his studs showing. Mr Proctor saw fit to again brandish no cards to players in red. Mackay headed well over, Angus shot into Malin’s arms before Herd was cautioned. It appeared difficult to identify yellow football kits pre-match but cards of the same hue were being shown to the away side with carefree abandon. Inverurie received three yellows from their first eight fouls, none of which were vicious or dangerous. Rangers receiving three red cards by this point would not have been beyond the realms of possibility, to be without a solitary yellow had collective Locos flabbers fully & utterly gasted! Timekeeping brouhaha would come back to haunt Locos & the first half closure foretold of this outcome. The first period closed deep into the forty eighth minute, running over with the metaphoric half time cuppa over stewed releasing a bitter taste, in keeping with this troubled afternoon! HT 0-0. A careless flailing arm decked Angus with no yellow card yet again. McLean shot high. A MacDonald cross flew onto the roof of the net, with a Morrison free kick flying too high as well. Sutherland finally collected yellow after tripping Herd as he tried to attack up the left. Morrison looked to have netted but a fantastic Reid save denied him. Angus got an early strike away from wide on the left, Malin diving low & left to repel it. Nacho then drove another chance too high. Gillespie couldn’t believe Reid got to his net-bound shot. Top drawer from big goalie, Brora then had Locos on the backfoot with a series of chances hacked away, blocked on the line & saved by the imperious Reidzer. Gauld ghosted in for Locos but a really tight flag ended his hopes. Mackay slid a shot wide when he looked offside, Maclean had an effort deflected wide. Brindle snatched his chance wide from close in as Rangers threatened again. Williamson was high & late in collecting a yellow. Sutherland threw himself to the deck but the referee was perhaps unsighted, or a little behind play, as this appeared a routine simulation yellow which would have been an expulsion. Angus had another low shot saved. Morrison was cautioned. A near post flick then hit the outside of the Locos post, with Andy Reid then pulling off a top diving save. The allotted time had came & gone with the allowance for three substitutions & three yellows but still play went on, & on, & on. Seasoned football watchers knew what was coming….Into the forty ninth minute, Craig CAMPBELL mis-controlled the ball in front of the posts& it veered straight into the net. A fluke & cruel on Inverurie. It was now just after five o’clock. Celebrations were delirious & frenzied & remarkably Chris Angus still had time to level but he shot at the body of Malin. This match was finally halted after nearly one hundred collective minutes, excluding the yellow fever fiasco at three o’clock. We have no national sport to enjoy without our match officials & they deserve our collective support whilst they, as a group, are having a challenging period across the country. Brora’s hysterical reaction at full time was a compliment to Inverurie, who have now pushed the two best sides in the league, on their own manors, all the way & no-one would have begrudged Locos a brace of brave draws. Rangers go on now to play eleven SHFL ‘cup finals’ but one would imagine the bulk of these will revert to the traditional ninety minute format! They’re a fine side who are challenging on merit. For Locos, the summary of the day has to be pride, pride in the whole group, pride in the endeavour from whistle to whistle (however far apart they might be!), pride in the big popular big goalie who gets better & better, pride in our youth system especially. Thomas Reid has slotted in to Neil Cooper’s side with the maturity of a seasoned & gnarled old pro, with Andrew Watt the best outfield player on view bar none. What a relief for the Locos Committee & supporters that his injury last week wasn’t a serious one. Keep the faith Locos fans, there’s plenty days in the sun to come. Next up is the visit of Lossiemouth on Saturday February 2nd at Harlaw, kick off 3pm. Stats – Locos first. Shots On 5-8, Off 2-6, Fouls 14-12, Corners 2-9, Offside 5-2.