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  • Thistle's fledgling four fitting in well

    Andrew Sutherland is just one of four new additions to Tain Thistle's Welfare league set up this summer, alongside Ryan Johnston, John Maclellan and Ayah Rattanaphithak. 2010 has been a year of transition not only for Tain Thistle, heading into their first year as defending Ross-shire Welfare champions but also for the "fledgling four", as they step into Welfare football having won the SWL Ross-shire league with Tain Juniors' Under 17 set up last year.<br /><br />Sutherland has featured in no fewer than six of Thistle's eight competitive games during their Welfare campaign after a short pre-season which also involved a trial game for Tain's North Caledonian side against Muir of Ord Rovers. The result on that day went anything but in Thistle's favour, but the experience thus far has been one to savour for the Northern Irish born defender.<br /><br /><img align="none" alt="" src="http://www.tainthistle.co.uk/news/data/upimages/ff1.jpg"><br /><br /><i>"Its been a really good experience so far. I never expected to have played as often as I have but I've learned a lot already. The trial game gave us an insight into what to expect in senior football and it was a good chance for us to show what we could do for the manager."</i><br /><br />Inspired by the now experienced youngsters who came before him, such as Farquhar, Christie and Goller, Sutherland seems humbled by just how much he has learned in a short space of time.<br /><br /><img class="imgright" align="right" alt="" src="http://www.tainthistle.co.uk/news/data/upimages/ff2.jpg"><i>"Martyn (Farquhar) has been really good for me this season, teaching me how to read the game much better since I arrived, and Darran (Goller) has been fantastic at making us all feel welcome. Football-wise, we'd always spent some time on quick feet with the 17s, and playing the ball quickly has been the main thing we've been doing here, so I feel like I'm learning all the time."</i><br /><br />Like Sutherland, the imposing young forward John Maclellan has found himself in the throws of first team action, starting up front on five different occasions amidst a continually changing forward line. Thistle have been lucky to have Maclellan as they continue to search for their scoring touch, now without Calum Macdonald and missing Liam Rostock for the early part of the season. <br /><br />Many claim the striker could very well have bagged a hat-trick in his trial start against Muir of Ord, were it not for the excellent goalkeeping of Robbie Rose, but instead he had to wait until Tain's trip to Dingwall in May for his first goal, slamming home a penalty in the club's 6-0 destruction of Vertex.<br /><br />Ryan Johnston, too, has impressed. Having swept aside other candidates to win the SWL Ross-shire league's Player of the Year award in 2009, the centre half for Tain Juniors has become a useful full-back for Arron Christie's Thistle side, none moreso than when he netted a goal from 30 yards on the left flank in his first start, picking the man of the match award up on the way. <br /><br /><img class="imgleft" align="left" alt="" src="http://www.tainthistle.co.uk/news/data/upimages/ff3.jpg">The last contributor, but most certainly not the least, is the continually impressive and entertaining Natthaphon Ayah Rattanaphithak. Bangkok born, Ayah - or "Natch" to his 17s brethren - had not kicked a football before moving to Scotland at the age of 10. Making up for lost ground, he has quickly asserted himself as one of the most skillful players to come out of the Tain Juniors' set up, wowing crowds with his dribbling ability since his inclusion in Tain's North Caledonian squad. <br /><br />The winger has also shown his goalscoring touch, netting for Thistle on two occasions, first against Invergordon Social Club in the opening Welfare game of the season, before showing that even as the shortest player in the league, he can still head the ball, with a perfectly placed nut over a helpless Ross Rae.<br /><br />Whatever the future holds for Thistle, one thing can be assured -- the continued efforts of Tain Juniors, working with the young footballers of Tain, are proving once again to be successful, especially if Sutherland, Maclellan, Johnston and Rattanaphithak are anything to go by - and Thistle are only too glad to continue the job.

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