In the only North Caledonian league match of the day, Tain Thistle were soundly beaten by league leaders Thurso at Sir Georges Park.
An early pitch inspection conducted by referee Graham Elder led to the pitch being passed for the game despite frosty conditions across the region. Thistle manager John Oliver coped with the absence of Michael Brand, Daniel Christie and Darran Goller to name a makeshift eleven with last week's unused substitutes Andy Murray and Kyle Oliver slotting into the midfield.
Thurso's Andrew Bremner gave the Vikings the earliest of leads to put his side in pole position, before going 2-0 up through Sean Munro on the half hour mark.
Second half goals from Jamie MacKenzie and a penalty from Mark Nichol wrapped up the afternoon.
Officials from Thurso FC will conduct a 9am pitch inspection to determine the playability of Sir Georges Park tomorrow morning, with forecast frost and snow threatening to postpone the fixture.
Should the game go ahead, Tain will see a near full strength squad travel to Caithness, with only Darran Goller and Michael Brand missing from the side that lost 3-1 to Golspie last week.
Fixtures for the next three weeks have been announced by the NCL committee, with Tain Thistle travelling to league leaders Thurso this coming Saturday (Feb 20th) for a 2pm kick off, followed by a visit to Halkirk on Saturday March 6th. Thistle are expected to have a free week on February 27th, with a full set of Football Times Cup 2nd Round fixtures scheduled for that day.
20/2 - Thurso vs Tain Thistle (2pm KO)
27/2 - No game
6/3 - Halkirk Utd vs Tain Thistle (2.30pm KO)
The 2nd Round of the Jock Mackay Cup saw Golspie Sutherland, Thurso, Bonar Bridge and Muir of Ord advance to the semi finals, with the following results:
Bonar Bridge 3-1 Balintore
Kraig Vass recorded his second win as Bonar manager, once again in cup competition, this time beating league rivals Balintore. The Bridge were 2-0 ahead after only 20 minutes, but Gus MacDonald replied for the Seaboard side on the stroke of half time. Chris Campbell ended all doubt however with a second half goal for Bonar.
Tain Thistle 1-3 Golspie Sutherland (also a league result)
A lively first half saw NCL champions Golspie take a 1-0 lead before Darran Goller made amends for two earlier missed chances by leveling the scores on 53 minutes. Golspie were undeterred however, capitalizing on errors with goals from Krystoff Mikula and Stuart Thomson to seal the win.
Muir of Ord 2-1 Dingwall Thistle
Goals from Ewan Dance and Scott Morrison were enough for Muir of Ord as they cast aside local rivals Dingwall Thistle at Pavilion Park. A 90th minute strike from David Murray was the Jags' only reply.
Thurso P-P Invergordon - Invergordon failed to raise a team
In league action this weekend, Fort William's reserve side put up a good fight away to Halkirk United, in another double header played in Caithness. Halkirk opened on 20 minutes with a Colin Sinclair penalty, before Fort equalized. A second Sinclair penalty secured a close 2-1 win for Halkirk on 87 minutes.
A tough display at the newly rotated Grant Park ended with Golspie Sutherland advancing to the semi final of the Jock MacKay Cup while also notching a further three points in the North Caledonian league in today's "double header".
John Oliver could enjoy a near complete squad for today's tie, with travellers Chris Mailley and Darran Goller back from holiday and Russell Lawrie shaking off a groin strain to become available.
Thistle started the game in lively fashion, with Darran Goller unlucky not to have put his side in the lead on 3 minutes. Clever link up play between Russell Lawrie and Goller led to the winger finding himself one on one with the Golspie stopper, the latter standing up to the challenge. Lawrie also came close to finding the net in the opening stages, watching his effort sail just past the post.
Golspie struggled to find their way in the first half, thwarted on the counter numerous times by a steadfast Thistle defence of Mailley and Mackay. The Tain men found themselves out of luck however on the half hour mark as the visitors found the net with their first effort. An early call for offside was waved off by the referee before Golspie's Krystoff Mikula was able to round Steven Martin to make it 1-0.
Tain were undeterred however and finished the first period as the more likely side, Lawrie again hitting the side netting following some silky wing play, and Martyn Farquhar coming very close with a 20 yard dip.
Thistle started the second half with the same vigour and soon were rewarded for the efforts. Lawrie and Goller linked up again, with the latter connecting with the killer touch to place the ball beyond Budge.
At 1-1, Tain were back in the game and could very well have taken a lead through Lawrie, had the striker not been unsuccessful with a lobbed effort from close range.
Golspie did not waste time in restoring their lead however, with a second goal on 68 minutes. Following a counter down the wing, goalkeeper Steven Martin was pulled wide and rounded for a predator's toepoke from Mikula for his second.
Within minutes, Golspie had rounded off their afternoon with a fortunate third; Stuart Thomson pouncing on a loose ball after Martin had failed to hold.
Despite the 3-1 scoreline, Thistle battled on and were handed an opportunity for the remaining ten minutes as Golspie were reduced to ten men. The Golspie offender had been handed a second yellow for a bad challenge on Lawrie and Chris Mailley came extremely close to pulling a goal back when his set piece effort cannoned off the bar.
The result keeps Thistle in 6th place in the North Caledonian League, but sees Golspie advance to the semi final of the Jock MacKay Cup - ending Thistle's debut season in the NCL cup competitions.
Thistle have five games remaining this season, with trips to Golspie, Halkirk and Thurso awaiting scheduling and home games against Muir of Ord and Bonar Bridge still to be played.
Martin, Sutherland, Farquhar, Mackay, Mailley, Brand, Cowie (Durrand), Smith, Goller, Christie, Lawrie
Subs not used:
K Oliver, Murray
Farquhar 38, Cowie 42
Man of the Match:
The outstanding Jock Mackay quarter final cup tie between Tain Thistle and Golspie Sutherland will now be played on February 13th at the Jags' Grant Park with a 1.30pm kick off.
To alleviate fixture congestion, the clubs have also agreed to count the result after 90 minutes as their rearranged league meeting, after blustery conditions postponed their first outing in December.
Today's match between Dingwall Thistle and Tain Thistle in the 1st Round of the Football Times Cup has been scratched from this weekend's fixtures, following Tain's decision to withdraw from the tie.
The game, originally scheduled to be played at Dingwall's Jubilee Park, had been moved to the HFA's 3G astroturf park yesterday due to weather concerns. Tain later conceded that they could not guarantee a team to play on the artificial surface, following a number of player withdrawals.