Locos 1 Rothes 0
Breedon Highland Football League Inverurie Loco Works 1 Rothes 0 Locos: A Reid T Reid Mitchell Watt (Smith) Souter Broadhurst Michie McLean (Duff) Gauld Angus Stott. Unused subs Hunter Herd Gordon Cook Rothes: Donaldson Stark Neil ( G Kerr) Ballam (Duncan) Duff Wood Anderson Robertson Cormack Maley Mackenzie. Unused subs Rodrigues A Kerr Christie Referee - Scott Leslie. And so another campaign comes to an end, forty one matches completed, & time to reflect, re-energise, recruit & re-load. Saturday’s opponents at a bright but bracingly Baltic Harlaw Park were Rothes, the Speysiders widely expected & tipped to be in the top six & pushing for better, but who will finish in the bottom half of the table. However they arrived in the Garioch unbeaten in nine & perhaps a sign to their supporters that the next campaign will see a better return. The fixture also saw the Locos, with Garioch Sports Centre & the Aberdeen FC Community Trust, host their third Community Day. Stuart Duff has been such a popular & likeable chap around Harlaw Park since his arrival, & with a coaching role in the youth set-up with the Dons beckoning, this match was his farewell to Harlaw as a player, but most certainly not so as a friend & welcome visitor. Boss Neil Cooper named the starting eleven that had won at Bellslea & the Locos were attacking the Railway End during the first period. The teams were led out by mascots Lexi & Finn who had won a Garioch Goes Green competiton, & by loyal supporter Neil Buchan. The famous Chuff Chuffs, better supporters you won’t find anywhere on the planet, had their numbers swollen with family & friends, adding to the colour & spectacle. Locos threatened right from the off with a Neil Gauld free-kick charged down, the hitman chasing one more goal to equal his record seasonal tally for the Railwaymen. Ryan Stott fell heavily early on but was able to continue after treatment. Craig Cormack turned on the proverbial sixpence & his driven low cross was brilliantly fielded by Andy Reid. Neil Gauld capitalised on dilly dallying in the Rothes right back zone to neatly nip in & fire the ball across to the onrushing Chris Angus, this was a really difficult chance & the ball flew wide. Steven Anderson was showing nice touches allied to a combative streak & the tall player shot well over the bar next. Locos were by far the more inventive of the two sides & a McLean drive was deflected wide, a Gauld header flashed over from the resultant corner & a brilliant trap, turn & drive from the same player went wide. Mark Souter was fancying a goal on this final match of the term & headed over under a challenge from the keeper Donaldson. Anderson attempted to cause issues at the back for Locos & managed to get between centre half & goalie but steered his chance well wide. Jamie Michie was again buzz bombing up & down the park, displaying the energy & workrate that has made his return to Harlaw an undoubted success, & the player then swerved a free kick inches wide. A minor raising of handbags from Souter & Anderson was properly dealt with by the referee, a swift finger wag & a cry of get on with it. Manager Steve MacDonald was finding fault with some decisions & received a short lecture from the referee. Jamie Michie then shot into the arms of the keeper. Andy Reid has been in top class form for Inverurie & next pulled off a top diving save, swooping low to his left to thwart Cormack. Nine minutes to half time & a richly deserved Locos lead. Chris ANGUS smashed home a super strike after a trademark surge forward from skipper Neil McLean. Great goal. This Angus strike saw him notch twenty five for the season, only the second ‘non Neil Gauld’ quarter century for a Inverurie Locos player in the senior era, indeed the last one was fourteen seasons ago. Then it was the legend Kenny Coull who reached the landmark, with seven other players since passing twenty seasonal goals, but not reaching the twenty five mark. Neil Gauld then had another shot saved, Ryan Stott then set clear to race in on goal but alas the referee hadn’t spied the advantage & play was dragged back to an earlier Rothes offence. A Cormack long range effort bounced off the roof of the groundman’s store before leaving the stadium. Souter & Stott had further efforts go off target, with a hooked Allen MacKenzie shot sandwiched between these attempts, edging just wide. HT 1-0 Locos & a chance for a cuppa to thaw out. Rothes were a side rejuvenated & started the second period far better. Indeed Andy Reid’s next save was not only out of the top drawer, but from the special compartment where you keep your most valuable things! Jack Maley quite understandably was starting his celebration when Reidser broke his heart with a phenomenal save, arching his back to brilliantly save the goalbound strike. Anderson then had a low shot deflected behind, with Stott at the other end wide too with an angular shot on the run. Gauld & Michie went close again, McLean likewise threatened the Rothes goal with substitute Gary Kerr dragging a decent opportunity wide of the post. For an end of season clash the sides were creating plenty & indeed would go on to share thirty four attempts on goal. Donaldson was at full stretch to tip an Angus shot wide, the same Locos attacker then had a header blocked on the line with McLean crashing the rebound into the sidenet. Anderson headed straight at Reid as Rothes upped their game again to try & level proceedings. A poignant moment on sixty eight minutes. Skipper McLean passed the captain’s armband to Stuart Duff, with the ex Dons, Dundee Utd & Inverness Caley Thistle man playing the last minutes of his senior career. MacKenzie headed over under pressure from Tam Reid. Gauld had two further shots repelled, next Reid was diving full length again to foil Anderson with a top save. That man Reid was the star of the show again a minute later, diverting a Rothes header onto the face of the bar. The full-time whistle blew to close out the 2018/19 season & a win for Inverurie. Delightful & emotional scenes as the players left the park, Stuart Duff quite correctly the centre of attention & getting the send off from his team-mates, fans & Locos officials he deserved. The football club will finish in fifth place should Forres Mechanics win by fourteen goals or less at Claggan Park on Saturday. If this is the case, it’ll be Inverurie’s first fifth position finish, and eighth different concluding SHFL berth. The scores on the doors across all competitions for Locos, with forty one games played versus thirty eight last time. Three fewer wins, three more draws & three more defeats. Three goals fewer netted & seventeen more conceded with again twelve clean sheets as in 2017/18. Lots to have savoured this term, with the nineteens & twenties both being invincible champions & the emergence of Thomas Reid & Andrew Watt in the first team, along with a brace of clean sheets in his two outings for Morgan Cook. The club are ready to challenge on all fronts & the preparation for 2019/20 is already underway!