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  • Inver 2-2 Tain Thistle

    Only four days separated the Jags' last visit to Portmahomack and their evening league meeting with rivals Inver. With Arron Christie missing due to work commitments, manager Robbie Ross dropped Martyn Farquhar to the back four slotting in Kevin Graham to fill the void in midfield, with the team otherwise unchanged. Inver introduced forwards Scott Smith and Martin Smith to their lineup, with Gordon Macinnes providing a more able pair of hands between the sticks for the home side this time around.<br /><br />The game started as it indeed proceeded to go on with a series of scrappy challenges and heated moments, referee Keith Middleton having to cope with a number of contentious decisions.<br /><br />With twenty minutes gone however, it seemed as though Thistle had made a breakthrough, as Darran Goller found the net with a header from only one yard - but referee Middleton bizarrely chalked the goal off for offside.<br /><br />The short size of the Portmahomack pitch always makes for an end-to-end affair and this evening proved to be no different with Inver almost scoring on the 25 minutes mark; goalkeeper Robbie Ross blocking a one-on-one effort from Scott Smith.<br /><br /><img border="0" align="none" alt="" src="http://www.tainthistle.co.uk/newstest/data/upimages/invtain222.jpg"><br /><br />Undeterred by the earlier stroke of misfortune however, Thistle made no mistake with a later aerial effort, the imposing Kevin Graham first heading towards goal before poking the ball home for the opener just after half an hour.<br /><br />Graham remained in the thick of the action after his goal too, on the unfortunate receiving end of a vile attack from Inver's Stuart Wood, who sent a knee into head of a grounded Graham. Referee Keith Middleton, very softly, issued only a yellow to Wood, and a booking to Graham for his involvement in the incident, much to the amazement of Tain onlookers.<br /><br />In what would have perhaps been more reflective of their dominance, Thistle could have gone in 2-0 up at the break thanks to very clever running from Ryan Johnston on 40 minutes, but the full back struck just beyond Macinnes' far post.<br /><br />The second half saw the introduction of more meat to the challenge, with Inver chasing an equalizer. The threat of Smith and Robertson proved to be a test for Farquhar and Sutherland at the back, but it was Macinnes again who saw the most of the action, first watching as a Brand effort flew a tremendous distance just over the bar and moments later a Daniel Christie strike, that would have been easier to score, sail past his far post.<br /><br />It was Christie however who eventually found the net for the evening's second goal, rattling a shot in off the post to make it 2-0 for Thistle. The goal should have marked the beginning of a spell of ease for Tain, were it not for an instant strike-back by Inver, who sent a shot straight over Ross from the resultant kick off to make it 1-2; Scott Stirling making it 2 in 2 against Tain this past week.<br /><br />The close scoreline made for a nervy final quarter and it seemed Thistle's pressure would eventually pay off for a third thanks to Goller rattling Macinnes' hands and the crossbar with a thunderous effort to force a corner and an underpower strike from Graham that was easily held. But it wasn't to be. A late cross sent over the top of Tain defence was met with a glancing header by Scott Innes who left Ross with no chance to bring the scores level at 2-2.<br /><br />Inver's desperation to prevent Thistle from finding a late winner eventually led to the dismissal of Stuart Wood, who ruthlessly scythed Ryan Johnston out of play on the wing. A late headed effort for Martyn Farquhar which was sent over the bar was all she wrote for Thistle's opening league game and the scores ended at two a piece.<br /><br /><b>Team:</b><br />Ross, Cameron, Johnston, Sutherland, Farquhar, Brand, D Christie, Burry (Reid), Durrand (Maclellan), Goller, Graham<br /><br /><b>Subs not used:</b><br />Wemyss, D Nimmons<br /><br /><b>Goals:</b><br />Graham 32, D Christie 72<br /><br /><b>Booked:</b><br />Graham<br /><br /><b>Man of the Match:</b><br />Michael Brand<br /><br /><b>Match details:</b><br /><a href="http://www.tainthistle.co.uk/matchdetails.php?id=428">http://www.tainthistle.co.uk/matchdetails.php?id=428</a><br /><br />Elsewhere, Balintore kicked their defence of the league title off with a 3-0 win against last year's runners-up Alness Athletic, thanks to goals from Ross Powell and James Metcalfe and an own goal from Gordy Maclean. Ross-shire Club secured three points at home to Cromarty with Cammy Bell and Kegan Stewart on target for the home side as they won 2-1. In the final game of the day, the much improved Invergordon Social Club ran away with spoils thanks to a 5-1 win over Dingwall Vertex, with Paul Austin, Stephen Campbell and Gordy Oman on the scoresheet.<br /><br />Next week's fixtures:<br /><br />Cromarty vs Inver<br />Inv Social Club vs Ross-shire Club<br />Tain Thistle vs Alness Athletic<br />Vertex vs Balintore

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