Robbie Ross made a couple of changes to the side that rounded off Thistle's pre-season, with Kevin Graham dropping to the bench for the returning Darran Goller, while Martyn Farquhar also returned to the starting lineup.
Inver, forced to start with defender Ryan Cowie in goal, found themselves 1-0 down almost instantly thanks to an unfortunate fumble in only the 3rd minute, when Darran Goller ran clean through to blast the first goal of the 2011 Ross-shire Welfare season through the hands of Cowie.
The clock had not even reached ten minutes when Thistle's second was tapped home, again by Goller, after a clever piece of individual forward play saw the striker nimbly nick the ball past Cowie for the easiest of finishes.
Play seemed to settle in the midfield for the next while as Thistle searched for opportunities on a prone Inver goal, and it was Inver who netted next. Handed a reminder of the goal threat throughout the Inver team, it was former Invergordon Social Club midfielder Scotty Stirling who launched a drive over Ross and into the net to make it 1-2.
The goal seemed to give Inver some confidence and before long Ross was forced to make a point blank save, as Russell Ferguson found himself clean through on the Jags goal.
Any semblance of doubt over Thistle's grasp on the tie was eliminated on the stroke of half time however when Goller completed his hat-trick thanks to creative play in midfield from Colin Burry; Goller again slotting home through the hands of Cowie.
The second half started as the first had ended with Thistle pressurising an Inver defence that were losing an ongoing battle and this time it was Andy Durrand who netted, following a pacey right wing sprint. Cutting in from the right, Durrand easily placed the ball beyond Cowie to make it 4-1.
Coming on as a substitute for Burry after the winger had taken a knock, Mark Reid made an instant impact, lashing a volley beyond Cowie at his near post just after the hour to make it 5-1.
Making his return to the Ross-shire Welfare scene, former Tain Thistle man David Robertson capitalised on a lapse of concentration in the Jags box to pop a consolation goal home for Inver, but the celebrations were short lived as Durrand did the same at the other end minutes later, stabbing home from 10 yards for his second to make it 6-2.
Daniel Christie could well have made it seven with five minutes left on the clock with a free kick just outside the box, but his effort flew over the bar.
A man of the match performance from young Ryan Johnston was almost capped off with a goal in the final minutes as the left back careered forward beyond the final line of the Inver but could only shoot over.
Ross, Cameron, Johnston, Sutherland, A Christie, Brand (Maclellan), D Christie, Farquhar (Graham), Durrand, Burry (Reid), Goller
Subs not used:
C Nimmons, Murray
Goller 3, 9, 45, Durrand 48, 81, Reid 68
Man of the Match:
A quiet week saw preparations for the weekend's opening competitive fixture of the season commence. Tain Thistle will travel to Portmahomack to meet Inver in the first round of the League Cup this Saturday with a 3pm kick off. Thistle are expected to have a near full squad available for the tie, with Inver also reported to be strong.
Thistle's first training session on Monday night past went well with a reasonable turnout. Players and anyone who cares to participate are welcome again this Monday night, 7pm at the Links.
Congratulations must go to the senior football team of Tain Royal Academy who secured the Northern Schools League championship last night.
Finally, the club raised further club funds following their monthly poker fundraiser on Tuesday night, thanks to the organisation of Bryan Campbell and hosting venue, The Railway Hotel. The committee expects to have another poker event organised for May.
Michael Stein fell away despite an early comeback to relinquish his hold on the TTFC poker title last night, with Niall Harkiss snatching a last ditch win from the hands of Bryan Campbell.
The standings at the end of the night were:
1. Niall Harkiss
2. Bryan Campbell
3. Peter Foster
4. Michael Stein
5. Mark Reid
6. Gordon Ross
7. Louise Johnstone
8. Dale Finlayson
The night was again a fundraising success thanks to the capable organisation of Bryan Campbell and thanks must go to all who participated and donated to the club.
Tain Thistle will travel twice to Portmahomack to kick off their Ross-shire Welfare league campaign starting this weekend, for a double header sure to send shivers down the spines of Jags supporters. Facing up against their fierce rivals Inver, Thistle could not have envisaged the outcome of their first meeting last May.
With three points the aim, Thistle found themselves with a 2-1 lead at the 75 minute mark when referee Keith Middleton was forced to bring the game to a halt after a head knock to Jamie Shepherd. The stoppage turned to postponement soon after the landing of an air ambulance and ironically, the fixture was not replayed until the end of the season; Thistle beating Inver by 4 goals to 1 with the result academic.
The four fixtures between those games however saw Inver run out with the spoils on every occasion, first with the winning of the League Cup final in May, thanks to goals from Stuart Wood and Craig McCourt, then again in Pattison cup action at the end of the same month. In June, Inver handed Cordiner Cup holders Thistle a 7-2 drubbing to send them out of their own cup and their other league meeting only days later ended in a equally disappointing 4-1 loss for the Jags.
Young striker John Maclellan was among those to score for Thistle in the opening fixture last season only to see his first goal for the club ultimately added to the annuls of unrecorded and abandoned fixtures.
"It was quite an introduction to Welfare football. It was a rough game and I was delighted to score in my first game but it all kicked off with the collision and the helicopter and it was a bit mad. I think we'd have held on for the win - we were solid defensively and created more chances than they did."
"With the rest of the season, we just never played to our best against them and its something we'll have to do better to beat them. We have better players and hopefully we can show that this season."
Historically, Tain Thistle have only won thirteen of their forty-five previous competitive meetings with Inver and only four of them have been away from home.
On the field, Thistle rounded off a satisfactory pre-season with a comfortable win over one of their Ross-shire Welfare league opponents in Cromarty. Goals from Colin Burry, Michael Brand, John Maclellan, Mark Reid and Darran Goller put the Victoria Park men to the sword with a 5-1 win. The result followed a 3-2 defeat against the Smithton Hotel for the Jags as a depleted Thistle XI travelled to Inverness for their friendly meeting this past Saturday.
With the friendlies concluded, training for Thistle will now begin on Monday night at 7pm at the Links park.
The fixtures for the Ross-shire Welfare league were fully announced this week, with Tain Thistle facing almost an entire season of away games on Saturdays following the random luck of the draw. Thistle's only home 1st round tie, against Inver in the Coronation Cup, will be played on a Monday night to avoid a clash with Tain Gala. At most, Thistle will play a small total of nine home games this season.
The next poker fundraiser is scheduled for Tuesday, April 26th this coming week, with a 7.30pm start. Interested parties should contact the club or Bryan Campbell at the St Duthus Hotel.
Darran Goller began his road to recovery from a hamstring complaint on Wednesday, playing 20 minutes against Cromarty. The striker scored within moments of being on the park and set up another goal shortly after, showing no effects of injury.
Finally, Thistle defender Andy Murray has experienced yet another birthday this week, turning THIRTY-SIX today. Happy birthday Andy.
Robbie Ross named a strong starting XI for the visit of fellow Ross-shire Welfare side Cromarty, with only Martyn Farquhar and Darran Goller missing from the regular starting eleven. Ross named a familiar back four of Cameron, Sutherland, Arron Christie and Johnston. Making his season debut for the club, Marc Munro slotted in at midfield alongside Brand, with Durrand and Graham on the wings. Up front, Burry was paired with Daniel Christie.
When last the sides met in August last year, Thistle were handed an embarrassing 9-1 defeat at the end of the season with Cromarty enjoying some great form and an appearance in the Cordiner and Coronation Cup finals.
It was centre half Christie who could well have put the home side ahead after only 5 minutes, but his strike flew over the bar.
After persistent attacks, the opener came mid way through the first half. Colin Burry, again taking up a striking role, led by great example with a terrific predator's goal on 26 minutes, first knocking a high ball beyond the Cromarty's stopper's grasp with his head, then finishing with a precise left foot tap-in to hand Thistle a 1-0 lead.
Andy Durrand, who had the most torrid of times for most of the game where it concerned being adjudged offside by referee Dave Cowie, seemed to have scored before the whistler again pulled play back just after the half hour mark.
History repeated itself on the stroke of half time as Kevin Graham added the finishing touch to a clever move into the Cromarty area but his goal was quickly chalked off for offside.
Cromarty - a side usually renowned for second half comebacks - showed no sign of stunning Thistle at the restart and before long the Cromarty defence again underestimated Burry to their peril, as the forward man lobbed a ball over the top for midfielder Michael Brand to turn the ball home.
Former Cromarty man Brian Cameron, playing at right-back for Thistle could very well have made it 3-0 with a clever cut into the centre of the park, but the defender could only fire wide.
Between the sticks, the gaffer Robbie Ross looked comfortable and organised the defence well, having to deal with a number of challenging crosses despite not being tested with a shot on goal during his hour on the field. It was his replacement, Stephen Wemyss, who was first tested though and unfortunately for the substitute and Thistle, the shot resulted in a goal, giving Cromarty hope of a comeback at 2-1 on 77 minutes. Any chance of an instant leveller was soon put to bed moments later however, as the comfortable paws of Wemyss held a looped free kick.
Thistle's other substitutes however, in Goller, Reid and Maclellan were quickly wreaking havoc on the Cromarty defence upon their introduction. Goller, recovering from a hamstring injury, showed no signs of letting up as he galloped into the Cromarty box on a solo run to rattle the ball home for Thistle's third.
The third goal sent the Jags into a comfort zone and soon Maclellan had added to the tally with the easiest of finishes after the ball rebounded from a Goller strike. Minutes later, Reid added a fifth as he added the final touch to a long ball laid off by Maclellan.
Goller could very well have added a sixth just short of time but saw little fortune in striking the ball on target, giving the Cromarty keeper a final reprieve.
The win sets Thistle up for a final round of pre-season training to begin next week, before they head into their season opener on April 30th against neighbouring Inver.
Ross, Cameron, Johnston, Sutherland, A Christie, Brand, Munro, Durrand, D Christie, Burry, Graham
Subs (all used):
Wemyss, Wood, Stein, Goller, Maclellan, Reid
Subs (not used):
Burry 26, Brand 58, Goller 82, Maclellan 85, Reid 89
Tain Thistle will open the season with two consecutive games against Inver, at the seaboarders' temporary home of Portmahomack. Fixtures were released this week, with the Jags handed a mixed start.
Following their League Cup 1st round opener against Inver at Portmahomack, they will repeat the fixture the following Wednesday in the first game of the league season. The following week, Thistle will host last year's runners-up Alness Athletic, before travelling to Dingwall for the first of a Jubilee Park double header, playing Vertex in the league on Wednesday and Ross-shire on the Saturday thereafter in the 1st round of the Pattison Cup.
Fixtures for May can currently be seen on the club Results & Fixtures page here.
Tain Thistle and Dingwall Vertex have met once already in this pre-season and the game produced ten goals on Dingwall Academy's all weather pitch. Last night's encounter at Grant Park was altogether different, however.
With key players Martyn Farquhar, Arron Christie, Darran Goller and the manager himself missing from the line-up, Robbie Ross reshaped an eleven to take the field against Vertex, with a back four of Cameron, Murray, Sutherland and Johnston, a midfield of Durrand, Daniel Christie, Brand and Graham with Burry partnering Maclellan up top.
Thistle came into no difficulty retaining possession during the first half and produced several crosses into the Vertex box through clever touches from Maclellan and Burry, supported by the wing play of Durrand and Graham. The best chance of the half fell to centre half Andy Murray who found his shot towards the goal deflected wide.
Between the sticks for Vertex, Michael McCallum, the former Brora Rangers stopper, was more than up to the aerial threat of Thistle for most of the action, collecting several crosses from Burry and Durrand throughout the game.
At the back, sweeper Andrew Sutherland produced a confident display to deny the Dingwall men any significant action in the first period, alongside Murray who organised well.
The second half saw the introduction of substitutes Nimmons, Mackay and Davidson, before Mein, Stein, Wood and Pelka were added to play.
Perhaps most outstanding for his tireless running was young Ryan Johnston at left back who seemed to cover almost every yard of the pitch in an attempt to break down a resilient Vertex defence.
The game most certainly had 0-0 written all over it in the end, but with five minutes left on the clock, the Vertex men found themselves clean through. Thankfully for Tain, the safe hands of Pelka were up to the task, thwarting an effort on target to save and hold the ball.
Wemyss, Cameron, Johnston, Murray, Sutherland, D Christie, Brand, Burry, Graham, Maclellan, Durrand
Subs (all used):
Pelka, Wood, Mein, D Nimmons, Davidson, Mackay, Stein
Tain Royal Academy’s Senior football team all but secured the league title, after a testing match against Lochaber High School. It now leaves the Tain boys in pole position to take the Senior Schools North of Scotland trophy home, needing either a draw or a win over Inverness Royal Academy to pip Millburn.
On Friday 8th April, a very late Reece Stewart strike was enough to give Tain a precious 1-0 win. However, for the whole duration of the game, it was a gruelling contest, with little between the two sides. In the first half, the Fort William side perhaps shaded it, but, in the wind and heat, there were very few clear cut chances for either side.
Tain’s back four of Reece Stewart, Alan Duff, Calum Macdonald and Ryan Johnston kept the threat at bay excellently, along with 13 year old goalkeeper Johnny Allan. Doing the dirty work brilliantly in midfield was Andrew Sutherland, while Joe Stainke set about his passing game well, the two of them making a fine partnership. Out wide right was the grafter Alasdair Mackintosh, and left was the pacey Donald Matheson, and up front was Ayah Rattanaphitak, playing off John Maclellan.
Despite all this, scoring opportunities were few and far between, with Johnston and Sutherland coming close, and a long range Maclellan effort coming back off the bar. Both teams were happy going in at half time scoreless, and after some wise words from Mr Stainke, the second period commenced, beginning in a real test for Tain’s defensive line, facing corner after corner and waves of attack as Lochaber looked for the opening goal.
Tain needed a change, and brought on Nick Mein for Mackintosh, and swapped Ayah and Stainke about, with Joe moving up front. Ayah now took control of the game, winning tackles and pinging passes around as Tain came back into the game. It was real end-to-end stuff, with Joe Stainke being a constant thorn in Lochaber’s side, coming close on a few occasions, this all added to his fathers’ stress levels, who on the sidelines was finding it hard to cope with the tension.
There were some scary moments for Tain, and Macdonald was a rock at the back, but as full time grew nearer and nearer, a quick interchange between Mein and Maclellan ended up with right back Reece Stewart in a crossing position. As he swung over a tempting cross, the keeper misjudged it, and it ended up in the top corner. Pandemonium erupted for the home side, with several players being elbowed in the wild celebrations. However Stainke Senior calmed them down, and Tain saw out the remaining few minutes to secure a priceless win.
Report written by John Maclellan.
Tain Thistle will play two friendlies this week, as games against Vertex and Smithton are confirmed.
Thistle will host a friendly against Dingwall Vertex this Wednesday night, following last week's cancellation, with a 6.45pm kick off at Grant Park.
Following that, the Jags will travel to Inverness to play Smithton Hotel FC on Saturday, in what is expected to be an afternoon kick off. Details still to be confirmed.
The draws for the Ross-shire Welfare FA cups were made on Wednesday at the latest league meeting. Thistle were drawn away to Inver in the first cup of the season, to be played on April 30th in the club's first game of the season. In the other competitions, Thistle also find themselves away to Ross-shire Club, Cromarty and Alness Athletic for their first round matches while their only home tie is against Inver in the Coronation Cup.
The club wishes to thank G Bannerman Ltd of Tain for their kind donation towards matchday equipment and medical bag supplies.
Following the cancellation of last Friday's trip to Embo and this Thursday's visit of Dingwall Vertex, the club elected to organise a mix of senior and junior players to participate in a scratch game at Grant Park on Thursday, pitting two XI sides against each other. Wearing all-white, Thistle "A" bettered the claret and amber Thistle "B" on the day.
Wemyss, A Christie, Oliver, Durrand, Cameron, Grant, Mein, Burry, G Mackay, C Mackay, R Ross
Pelka, Stein, Murray, D Mackay, MacIvor, Nicolson, D Nimmons, Cunningham, C Ross, Goller, Wood, K Ross (D Christie)
The club are currently exploring options for friendly matches for the remainder of April, with a trip to Inverness looking likely in the coming weeks. Thistle also hope to reschedule the visit of Vertex, which the Dingwall club were unable to fulfill this week.
TainThistle.co.uk is looking for an aspiring and enthusiastic sports writer to report on Tain Juniors under 15 and under 17 games this season. Please contact the club if you are interested.
Finally, on the injury front, Ryan Johnston is recovering from an ankle knock, while messrs Andy Murray and Darran Goller were able to shake off injuries to participate last night.
The draws for the cup competitions associated with the Ross-shire Welfare Football Association were made this past Wednesday night. In attendance for Tain Thistle were Robert Ross, Ian Christie and Andy Murray.
The opening game of the season will be played on Saturday, April 30th, in the first round of the Ross-shire Welfare League Cup. The draw was made as follows:
Invergordon Social Club vs Dingwall Vertex
Ross-shire Club vs Balintore
Inver vs Tain Thistle
Cromarty vs Alness Athletic
Cromarty/Alness vs Inver/Tain Thistle
Social Club/Vertex vs Ross Club/Balintore
The remaining cup draws were as follows:
Pattison Cup (final played at Portmahomack)
Cromarty vs Inver
Ross-shire Club vs Tain Thistle
Alness Athletic vs Invergordon Social Club
Balintore vs Dingwall Vertex
Alness/Social Club vs Ross Club/Tain Thistle
Cromarty/Inver vs Balintore/Vertex
Coronation Cup (final played at Dingwall)
Dingwall Vertex vs Cromarty
Tain Thistle vs Inver
Alness Athletic vs Ross-shire Club
Balintore vs Invergordon Social Club
Balintore/Social Club vs Tain Thistle/Inver
Alness/Ross Club vs Vertex/Cromarty
Seaboard Cup (final played at Balintore)
Ross-shire Club vs Cromarty
Invergordon Social Club vs Inver
Dingwall Vertex vs Balintore
Alness Athletic vs Tain Thistle
Alness/Tain Thistle vs Vertex/Balintore
Social Club/Inver vs Ross Club/Cromarty
Cordiner Cup (final played at Tain)
Inver vs Dingwall Vertex
Cromarty vs Tain Thistle
Alness Athletic vs Balintore
Invergordon Social Club vs Ross-shire Club
Social Club/Ross Club vs Cromarty/Tain Thistle
Inver/Vertex vs Alness/Balintore
Action with pre-season friendlies continued this past week as Tain met both Brora Wanderers and Dornoch City, losing 2-1 to the latter while putting several past the former on Sunday past to win 6-1. Goals from Darran Goller, Michael Brand, Andy Durrand and Mark Reid saw Thistle win the game, their first at Grant Park of the pre-season.
Thistle will play Dingwall Vertex again next week, this time at home. The game will take place on Thursday, April 7th with a 6.30pm kick off. It is hoped that the game can be played on the lower Links park, which has been reposted and should be lined during the coming week, to be used for training during 2011.
The committee wishes to thank Neil Munro of Tain Sports for his kind donation of a goalkeeping top and corner flags. Thank you Neil.
Further to last week's revelation that the first meeting of Tain Thistle and Tain St Duthus was in 1897, it has emerged that an earlier meeting in 1885 took place prior to the development of association football rules, in what would have resembled something closer to rugby. Thistle, playing with 14 men against St Duthus' 11, lost 6-1 on the day.
Ian Macleod of Tain Golf Club has kindly agreed to roll Grant Park pitch for the forthcoming season.
The next poker fundraiser is expected to take place this Tuesday, April 5th with a 7.30pm start. Any interested parties should contact the club or Bryan Campbell at the St Duthus hotel.
Team manager Robbie Ross and chairman Niall Harkiss will both attend next week's Ross-shire Welfare cup draw meeting on Wednesday evening.
The novelty fundraiser auction of Darran Goller's perished football boots fetched £25.00 towards club funds for the upcoming season.
Finally, on the injury front, Darran Goller is struggling with a hamstring strain for tonight's visit to Embo, Andy Murray could still be out with a groin concern and Andrew Sutherland continues to recover from an infected leg. More pleasingly however, Martyn Farquhar returned from a knee complaint midweek to play against Dornoch.