<img class="imgleft" align="left" alt="" src="http://www.tainthistle.co.uk/news/data/upimages/stevemartin.jpg">Goalkeeper Steven Martin is a footballer in transition. Touted by many as the number one keeper in the North Caledonian league, it was not surprising that many clubs came knocking when he left Bonar Bridge last year.<br /><br />Top of the list were Brora Rangers. The Highland League club had trained Steven in the past as a youth player before he left for Bonar Bridge, but it was the new management team led by Andy Macleod (who snapped up left winger Arron Christie from Tain last October) who were keen to see him return to join the squad of keepers at Dudgeon Park.<br /><br /><i>“After Bill (Russell) left Bonar, I knew I was not going to stay there and I had a few options open to me.”<br /><br />“I wanted to test myself at a higher level again and when Andy (Macleod) asked me to go back to Brora I had to go.”</i><br /><br />But the talented custodian has yet to be handed the chance of first team football and for now, has agreed to see out his season with Tain Thistle, the club he grew up playing for and supporting.<br /><br /><i>“I am a Tain fan and always like to see them do well so I am always willing to help out when I can.”<br /><br />“I picked up a calf injury at the end of November and have struggled since, only managing one training session in the past 7 weeks. My main focus at the moment is getting a few good sessions under my belt.”<br /><br />“I would like to think when I get back training on grass that I will be able to get my fitness up and get involved up at Brora again.”</i><br /><br />Steven made his unofficial return to the side as an outfield substitute during the Graham Jardine Quaich match with Balintore in November but it was not until this past weekend that the Fearn resident pulled on the gloves for Thistle � and he could not have gotten off to a better start, keeping a clean sheet in the club’s first win of 2010, as Tain overcame Fort William by one goal to nil.<br /><br />The stopper reserved special praise for the club’s resolve in victory.<br /><br /><i>“Winning is always pleasing and keeping a clean sheet is a bonus. It makes it easier for the strikers, knowing one goal is enough. After a bad run of defeats it was important to get 3 points on the board.”<br /><br />“We did something that Tain have struggled to do lately -- win ugly.”</i><br /><br />Martin is the fifth goalkeeper to play under John Oliver this season, with young Maryburgh native Ali Matheson the only to have kept a clean sheet until Martin’s arrival. Along with the players and supporters, Martin hopes that the team can find a new level of consistency for the remainder of the season.<br /><br /><i>“Every team needs a steady goalkeeper and defence. The NCL (North Caledonian League) is so unforgiving, and one mistake can be the difference between teams at times.”<br /><br />“If you can get a settled team that are comfortable playing together it cuts out the mistakes.”</i><br /><br />But Martin, under no illusions, sees next weekend’s fixture as a different story, with talisman Chris Mailley and winger Darran Goller missing.<br /><br /><i>“Golspie are always a difficult team to beat, and missing key players only makes the task that much harder. Chippie (Mailley) was fantastic yesterday and will be a key player for the rest of the season.”<br /><br />“Darran's pace can hurt every defence in this league, but Daniel and Dickie will bring a bit of quality back into the team and hopefully we can put in a good performance.”<br /><br />“You never know, with a bit of hard graft and the rub of the green an upset might be on the cards.”</i><br /><br />Steven Martin is expected to be between the sticks for the club’s first ever Jock MacKay cup tie, at home to Golspie Sutherland this Saturday, January 30th.
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