Thanks to a 2-2 draw at home to Cromarty, Tain Thistle have secured the Mid Ross Shield, with 16 points.
This was the first time the Mid Ross Shield had been contested since 1963, when the last winners, Alness United, won the magnificent trophy in a knockout format before it was rescued from refuse by the MacAngus family in the early 80s. First introduced in 1904, the Shield has a history of being contested both home and away, in a two legged format, and upon it's revival, clubs from Tain, Contin, Dingwall and Cromarty agreed to play in a league group format for the prize.
With a full sixteen named for the game, manager Gary Ross brought in Donald Matheson and Daniel Christie, both yet to feature this season, for the substitutes bench.
Thistle looked under the cosh in the opening stages as a willing Cromarty peppered Ross Henderson's goal, however resolute defending from Dingwall, Ross and Calderwood as well as safe hands from Henderson saw the goal go unscathed.
Remarkably, Tain opened the scoring on the counter, Paul Cowie knocking a loose ball home after the Cromarty keeper had failed to gather a cross.
The lead was short lived however as the Victoria Park men hit back to make it 1-1; Phil Macdonald striking high into the net.
The game now more even, it was Cowie once more in the first half who gave Thistle the lead, leaving the Cromarty men feeling aggrieved.
The Jags were dealt a blow in the first half with an ankle injury to David Calderwood, who limped off to allow Daniel Christie a place on the pitch; Jamie Macdonald more than capably dropping back into defence.
The score remained 2-1 at half time and the Jags faced a second half of holding on to an all important advantage, aware that anything but defeat would be enough to secure the Shield.
Chances for Liam Rostock went a-begging and introduced mid way through the second half, Martyn Oliver found himself clean through to make it 3-1 but his shot was saved.
A late flurry of corners for Cromarty left the Jags on tenderhooks as they looked certain to break down the defence - and indeed they did with 3 minutes left on the clock, Ruari Rogan scoring to make it 2-2.
Despite late chances, Thistle were able to hold on to the draw and win the necessary point to win the competition, much to the delight of the Jags support.
The Shield's custodian, collector and Tain football enthusiast, Brian MacAngus, presented the shield to Thistle captain Robbie Ross on the Links pitch after the game. Commenting on the moment, MacAngus said, "To be standing here, presenting my father's shield on Tain's pitch, to a Tain team, is phenomenal."
Despite St Duthus regularly competing in the competition from 1904-1963, Thistle's capture of the trophy in fact marks the first time a Tain team have won the Mid Ross Shield.
Henderson, Davis, Mackay, Ross, Calderwood, Dingwall, Wood, Farquhar, Cowie, Macdonald, Rostock
Subs (all used):
Durrand, Matheson, McIvor, Christie, Oliver
Despite going a goal down, Thistle played well to record a comfortable 6-1 victory over North Caledonian league side Invergordon yesterday.
Gaffer Gary Ross was missing messrs Martyn Farquhar, Liam Rostock, Niall McVicar and David Mackay, who were unavailable. Allan Campbell opened the scoring against the run of the play with a well struck volley inside the 18 yard box, leaving Henderson with no chance.
It wasn't long before Thistle's pressure paid off however as Graeme Davis found the head of David Calderwood for a headed goal from close range. Shortly after, Darran Goller made it 2-1 after good work from Martyn Oliver left the Invergordon stopper stranded.
Tain kept the momentum going as clever crosses from Andy Durrand frequently tested the Invergordon defence but at half time the score remained 2-1.
Goller eventually notched his second of the afternoon after missing a couple of earlier chances with a backward header to make it 3-1 and making a second half appearance as a substitute, Ross Grant saw his post bound effort defy gravity to spin into the net for Thistle's fourth.
Substitute Andy Bell got off the mark for Tain with a goal in the latter stages to make it 5-1 and soon after a sixth was added. A late effort for Invergordon found the net but was ruled out for handball.
Henderson, Davis, Durrand (McIvor), Ross, Dingwall, Macdonald, Wood, Cowie, Calderwood, Goller (Grant), Oliver (Bell)
Sub not used:
Having secured three points at home to Contin three weeks prior, Thistle went all out to do the same again, visiting Contin's temporary home of Dingwall Academy Park in cold conditions.
The Jags quickly took control of the game with a first half strike from Stuart Wood. Martyn Farquhar made it two when he got the all important touch on a long throw from Liam Rostock shortly after and the Contin stopper was foxed by yet another long throw when he found himself beaten by his own player, in a defensive attempt gone wrong, leaving the scoreline at 3-0 at half time.
Contin reduced the deficit after Darran Goller had made it 4-0, however Liam Rostock did well to beat several players before he was astonishingly robbed of possession by his own partner in crime Goller, who netted in an open goal to make it 5-1. Martyn Farquhar was next on the scoresheet to make it 6-1 and Paul Cowie added the final goal to round the game off with virtually the last touch of the match.
The win leaves Thistle needing only a draw against Cromarty to secure the Mid Ross shield.
Henderson, Davis, McIvor (Cameron), Ross, Dingwall, Mackay, Farquhar, Wood, Cowie, Rostock, Goller (Oliver)
Wood, Farquhar 2, Unknown o.g., Goller 2, Cowie