THE COOPER DIET – FIVE PORTIONS OF FRUITY FOOTBALL
Saturday August 31, 2019 – Breedon Highland Football League Inverurie Loco Works 5 Nairn County 1 Match stats – Locos first. Shots ON 16-3, Sots OFF 9-5, Fouls 3-4, Corners 12-7, Offside 4-2, Yellows 0-0, Reds 0-0. Locos: A Reid T Reid Mitchell Burnett Souter Broadhurst Dingwall (Cooper) Michie Gauld (Gordon) Angus Stott (Hunter). Unused subs: Watt Gill McLean Cook. County: D MacLean Ednie Ramsay Porritt Dingwall MacLennan Ewen (Dey) McNab J MacLean (Main) MacKenzie (McConaghy) Shewan. Unused subs: MacDonald Naismith Cuthbert Kendall. Referee – M. Northcroft. Whoosh! Wooft! Boom! Every now & again the dear old Highland League, that bastion of real Scottish fitba for real folk, offers up something to cherish. Inverurie Locos were quite simply sublime with the previously unbeaten Nairn unable to cope with their free-flowing hosts. Tam Reid was back for Inverurie, as was Chrissie Angus, the blonde bomber having came through a 20s match unscathed on the previous Monday. Jonny Smith wasn’t in the group, with Andy Hunter dropping to the bench. Neil McLean was on the bench as the talismanic skipper battles back to match sharpness after being felled by an unpunished off the ball elbow on matchday one. County arrived in the Garioch quite rightly on the crest of a confidence wave, having humbled Brora Rangers seven days earlier. Ten minutes of torrential rain was the precursor for this clash, following a balmy morning, but just at kick off the day settled down to allow the fans to enjoy the match in reasonable comfort, albeit with temperatures to remind them that alas summer is rapidly vanishing. Nairn won the toss & spun Inverurie around to have them attacking the Harlaw Road End. County won an early corner but Locos were to go ahead with the first of their twenty five attempts upon goal, & what a beauty! Ryan Stott’s burst forward was full of purpose but his cross needed strength & technique to find the head of Neil GAULD with his effort hitting the bar & crossing the line. Full marks to the standside linesman for being right up with play. I’m not sure some of the Locos faithful could have coped with another ‘goal’ crossing the line & not counting! Dylan MacLean was to go on & deny Locos a cricket score, & laid down a marker by pushing an Angus shot around the post. The soaking surface was perfect for the ball being pinged around the park by Locos, the players all willing to receive the ball at pace making the unfolding match incredibly pleasing on the eye. Neil Gauld diverted an angular driven ball from Mark Souter goalward with the keeper catching the ball. Chris Angus was looking strong & sharp & MacLean was at full stretch to tip a drive wide. A rare Nairn venture into Locos territory had MacLellan shoot from all of forty yards plus, Reid fielding with ease. Gauld then shot wide after being played in by Angus before Sam Burnett went down injured, the smooth silky player able to play on after treatment. Michie had yet another attempt deflected wide & Souter headed wide as Inverurie peppered the County net. Gauld had further shots pushed wide & over as Nairn teetered on the cusp of a hiding. MacLean was in the right place again as an Angus header from close range was down his throat. Seasoned watchers will have seen the movie script a thousand times – total domination, no second goal then…..the low blow & 1-1! Max Ewen released Liam SHEWAN who struck his shot well for a leveller that came out of nowhere. Angus continued to impress & had a shot deflected inches wide & a header from five yards tipped over. Ryan Stott then cut in & drove wide as Locos notched corner number nine. Neil Gauld had another attempt saved but no goalie could have done anything about the next effort. GAULD collected the ball inside the penalty box with a deft touch, a swivel & spin saw him approach the goal from the right & with passing the ball into net having allowed MacLean the chance to repel previous endless efforts, the Locos top scorer blootered a belting bazooka into the roof of the net to send the Chuff Chuffs into delirium. Indeed one observer commented that had the net not been set by Hamish & Fred ahead of the match, that ball would have surfaced in the Hopeville beer garden. This super hit at least allowed the Locos supporters to enjoy their half time brew with their favourites in front. HT 2-1. Would gaffer Cooper have his charges start the second period as they did the first? You betcha. Ryan Stott continues to impress the Red & Black army & a whipped assist from wide left had GAULD netting with glee from close in. 3-1. Forty six minutes & hat-trick number twenty-two for the prolific Railwayman. Shewan squared up to Souter in low level handbaggery that was diffused with ease by referee Northcroft. No sprinting in, no brandished cards, just a quick word without fuss & play on. For refereeing with a light touch & minimal involvement here we had an excellent case study. Albeit helped by two good footballing teams & disciplined technicals areas, the awarding of a meagre SEVEN free kicks across the ninety really enhanced the football experience for everyone. A welcome antidote to the issues at three matches already this campaign for Inverurie. MacLennan had Andy Reid showing his super concentration levels with a top drawer stop. Inverurie had a series of chances with Stott unlucky to see his right foot shot just clear the bar after pinching the ball from dithering County defenders. Twenty five minutes left & Chris ANGUS got in on the act. Rapid fire passing left Greg Mitchell to claim the assist with the final short pass into Angus, who stroked the ball home. Minutes later and the same outcome from the same player. The speed of thought & deed from Locos had supporters purring with pleasure with ANGUS firing home for 5-1. At last the scoreboard was getting close to having the numericals reflect the balance of play. McNab shot for goal in an increasingly rare Nairn foray in the midst of twenty five attempts on goal by Locos. The Railwaymen didn’t add to their total but come the final whistle their standing ovation was richly merited. Nairn did little wrong & showed plenty to confirm why they are so high in the still embryonic league, but Locos were immaculate. The players reached a fresh level on Saturday & the challenge is to stay there or get even better. Where will it take the football club this season? No-one knows but by goodness it’s going to be entertaining. Next up is the twenty three miles through the Glens for El Gordonico. Huntly v Locos, in the Breedon Highland Football League, is on Saturday September 7th, ko 3pm.