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  • Thistle battle their way into the Merrythought Final

    A superbly fought comeback secured Tain Thistle their place in the first Merrythought Cup Final to be played under the auspices of the Ross-shire Welfare FA, as they defeated an in-form Contin by the odd goal in three at the Links this afternoon.<br /><br />With player absences in double figures (largely thanks to many of the squad attending club captain Daniel Christie's stag do in Berlin), no fewer than six changes were made to the starting eleven who played in the club's last competitive game against Eastern Rose. John Allan stepped in for Robert Ross between the sticks, while Brian Cameron took the place of Arron Christie at left back. Up front, Mark Lamont and Tony Farquhar filled the void left by Liam Rostock and Darran Goller. David MacIver made his debut for the club while Dave Murray was the other absentee. The delayed Chippie Mailley took a place on the bench. Following on from their back to back drubbings of Fortrose Union, Contin traveled with a fourteen man squad, with prolific scorers Ryan Dow and Ewan Dance up front and the familiar face of Gordy Duff at centre half, who last played for Tain in 2009.<br /><br /><img width=90% src="http://www.tainthistle.co.uk/news/data/upimages/image.jpeg"><br /><br />The wind was blowing a gale as the game began, despite relatively clear skies and a decent day for football. Playing with the wind in their favour, the long ball of Contin looked set to pay dividends early on as Thistle had to be on their toes on a number of occasions, Ryan Day and Alan Duff thwarting chances. A flurry of corners had Allan and his defence under continued pressure for the opening quarter hour and Contin were unlucky not to have taken an early lead as they heaped dangerous balls into a packed area. It took until the 25th minute for Contin's pressure to pay off and the goal eventually arrived through former Muir of Ord man Ewan Dance, who powerfully placed the ball past Johnny Allan from an angle.<br /><br />It was Day at the other end who should have levelled just moments later when a cross from Lamont met the free head of the centre half, but he missed the target. Clever defending saw Thistle take a grasp on the game and four minutes before the break they eventually got their reward for their perseverance. Mark Lamont, playing his first game of the season, turned his man just outside the box and bearing down on Iain Bartlett, he coolly slotted the ball home to make it 1-1. The goal arrived at the perfect time as the tide had begun to turn just before the break.<br /><br />Tain started as they had finished and began looking for the lead. It looked certain to have arrived when Cammy Mackintosh was faced with the job of tapping the ball past Bartlett from six yards on 57 minutes but he shot just wide. Tony Farquhar also found himself clean through on the hour mark when the ball fell to him from an angle but didn't connect cleanly enough to beat Bartlett. Contin chances were few and far between as they battled against the wind and struggled to get the ball up the park but from a free kick awarded for handball on 65 minutes, Willie Stewart fired over the Tain bar, before the defender was eventually replaced due to injury. The deciding goal eventually arrived for Cammy Mackintosh with a quarter hour remaining. With a finish not dissimilar to that of Dance in the first half, Mackintosh slammed the ball home from an angle with authority, leaving the Contin stopper helpless. The lead was a deserved one for Tain at this stage in what had been a hotly contested game thus far.<br /><br />Drafted in at the last minute, Tony Farquhar (who had all but sworn he was retired just 24 hours earlier) had turned in a great performance up front and with ten minutes to go he made way for Chippie Mailley. The change saw a reshuffle in the formation and in the next few minutes Thistle missed a catalogue of chances to extend their lead. First, Lamont failed to convert a chance one on one with Bartlett, and MacIver, clean through, shot early into the keeper's arms. At the other end though, a penalty shout from Contin was waved on by referee Scott Matthew before Tain again missed another chance late on. Tain saw the game out to advance to the final.

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    Team Pld GD Pts
    Brora Wandrs 0 0 0
    Golspie Stafford 0 0 0
    Helmsdale Utd 0 0 0
    Lairg Rovers 0 0 0
    Lochinver 0 0 0
    Tain Thistle 0 0 0

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