The Reds crashed out of the Highland Amateur Cup with a gut wrenching defeat to an impressive Maryburgh side. Whilst there is no disgrace in losing to a very good outfit, the manner of the goals the Rudhachs lost will cause many a sleepless night. All three Maryburgh goals came from corners, with two of them particularly tough to take.
Point team: Gordy, Hugh, Angus, Elliot, Daniel, Andrew Mu, Jones, Andrew Mac, Wally, Andrew Mo, Stew. Subs: Matthew C, Alfie, Spike, Scott, Macca.
The Reds started well with Andrew Mac getting away down the right a few times although the Maryburgh defenders dealt with the crosses fairly comfortably. After ten minutes the Rudhachs took the lead and what a cracker it was. Andrew Morrison received the ball twenty five yards out, twisted and turned away from his marker and hammered the ball into the top corner. Waaw. Take a bow son! It was exactly the start the Reds were hoping for and a fantastic strike by the young Hearach.
Things were about to take a sinister turn however as a good bit of play by Maryburgh followed by some panicky defending by the Reds led to a corner on the right. Always beware the left foot in-swinger and so it came to pass as the Maryburgh left back Deon McAlister curled a cracker of a corner straight into the net, up and over Gordy’s despairing jump. It was a very disappointing goal to lose and left the Reds reeling as the mainland Blues took over for the next twenty minutes. It’s always quite tough playing an unknown quantity and despite having a few mixed reports on Maryburgh, they were proving to be the best team the Reds had faced this season. Indeed, aside from Avoch and Wick Groats, I couldn’t find evidence of them losing many games since they reformed a couple of years ago, earning promotion in their first season. Apparently they have a lot of ex County apprentices and youth team players in their ranks.
A fairly even first half ensued, with Point’s best chances coming down the wings where the two Andrews seemingly had the beating of their men. The Reds were however missing the composure and organisational skills of their skipper Ali G who was away on the mainland. The added knock on effect was that we had to play Angus at centre back rather than further up the pitch, where he has contributed nine goals this season.
Maryburgh were dangerous at set pieces and had a good chance to take the lead but the striker headed the ball wide when well placed from a free kick. At the other end the Reds had a couple of chances from the edge of the box but the shot was either blocked or hammered wide or over.
Whilst Stew was leading the line well, we were struggling to get Wally into the game as Andrew Murray and Jones were involved in a mighty scrap in the middle of the pitch with their opposite numbers. Maryburgh had the physical edge in there whilst the Rudhachs had the technical edge. The pitch itself was in great nick although following a dry spell the ball was sticking somewhat.
The young Maryburgh right mid, who had a lovely touch and good balance when running with the ball, was giving Daniel a tough match although the Point full back was coping admirably, despite being harshly booked early on for his first offence. One of the biggest differences in this match where Point were playing their hardest opposition of the season was the lack of time the lads had on the ball. The Reds have been used to dominating possession and basically having the better of the general play locally, but this match was a different proposition altogether. Our first touch was being tested as well as our split second decision making. It all made for a very close match that would be decided by a moment of magic or slackness in defence.
In the second half the game continued at break neck pace, both young and fit teams struggling for supremacy. The Maryburgh centre forward Russell Mcintyre was quick and very illusive, giving Elliot and Angus no time on the ball and giving them a tough game, although the Rudhach stoppers managed to keep him from getting away from them. After an hour or so Maryburgh took the lead and it was a cracker. Following another avoidable corner give away the ball was recycled back out to the left back McAlister who had advanced towards the box. He took one look and lashed the ball into the far top corner, a cracker of a finish and the Rudhachs were really up against it now.
Things were about to get worse for the Reds as goal scorer Andrew Morrison had to limp off following a nasty foul where his ankle buckled under a heavy challenge. Things were going badly and when Wally’s football boots decided to give up the ghost with him having no replacements, well, it couldn’t get much worse. Matthew Campbell generously dashed home to get a spare pair for Wally. With around fifteen minutes left Wally won a free kick on the left. As he hurriedly swapped boots Stew Munro floated the kick in to the box. The ball was knocked diagonally across and there was Rob Jones to nod the ball past the Maryburgh keeper, you beauty!
As the game headed towards the final few minutes a Maryburgh free kick was headed away for a corner for the Black Islers. Had the Rudhachs learned their lesson? Sadly not as the smallest man on the pitch Russell Mcintyre was able to gain a yard and loop a header in off the cross bar. Noooo! The Reds pushed and pushed for another equaliser. Stew shot tamely into the keepers arms after doing really well to make a yard. Andrew Mac cut the ball back to Jones who whipped the ball narrowly over the bar and with a couple of mins left Wally had a great chance. Stew hurled a long throw into the box and as it bounced about it fell at Wally’s feet, 6 yards out in a central position. He hammered it low and hard but the scrambling keeper Iain Mackenzie, who’s dad George is from Point, flung himself along the line. The ball hit the keeper’s heel and spun agonisingly wide of the post. They say “you always get a chance” and that was it. Stew shot wide from long range moments later in the final play of the game as the Reds Highland dreams faded to an agonising finish.
Reaction: The lads were all devastated after the game. We hadn’t played as well as we could, partly down to the quality of the opposition. However, the most frustrating thing was the manner of the goals we lost- we can’t gift a couple of goals to a good team and expect to win. A harsh lesson but one that this developing team will learn from. Focus know turns to winning as many cups locally as we can and trying to climb the league table. Cmon the Reds!
Point man of the match: Stew Munro. Was a handful for the Maryburgh defence all game. Andrew Morrison was also having a very good game prior to his injury, and his goal was a real cracker.