There will be two prizes up for grabs this Wednesday as Tain Thistle welcome Balintore to the Links. As well as 3 points in the Ross-shire Welfare league, the clubs will contest the Graham Jardine Memorial Quaich, last played for during the 2009/10 North Caledonian league between the sides.
The Quaich is traditionally played for upon the first league meeting at Tain between the two, but with neither town entering a side in the Highland reserve, they have elected to introduce the prize to their Welfare football calendar. Graham's parents, Jean and Jim, will be on hand to present the Quaich to the victorious team. In the event that the league match ends as a draw, a special penalty shootout will be overseen by referee Billy Murray to decide the winner of the Quaich.
Speaking after the disappointing cup loss to Fortrose, Tain Thistle manager Gary Ross is looking to his squad to improve ahead of their opening league match against local rivals Balintore.
"I feel that we've allowed one very poor referee's decision to become the main topic and it's the main topic because we were unable to put the game to bed, which, being honest, we should have done."
"After the disappointing cup exit today, we welcome Balintore for our first home match of the season on Wednesday. This game gives us the opportunity to put the wrongs right, and record our first competitive victory of 2013. Hopefully we can all step up a gear and make it an enjoyable match for all."
The U17s of Tain Juniors played their first home game on Friday night, finishing in a disappointing 3-3 draw with rival SWL side Wester Ross U17s.
The Tain lads took the lead with a beautiful lob from Rory Vass placed over the keeper from 20 yards. Two clear chances to score followed as Tain pushed their Western visitors but were unable to convert them. As the first half came to a close, very much against the run of play, Wester Ross equalised.
The away side eventually took the lead with a free header in the second half but within five minutes Tain were awarded a penalty. Scoring his second in as many games, Josh Rodgers neatly converted the spot kick. Tain took the lead once again as Dean Ross was played through on goal with a great pass from Micah Spence to calmly slot his effort past the Wester Ross keeper.
At 3-2, it looked as though the Juniors would see the victory out, however with the last kick of the ball, Wester Ross were awarded a penalty. The visitors ably slotted past Dylan Chapman in the Tain goal to make it 3-3.
Speaking after the game, coach Mark Stainke left his squad with a stark warning, quoted as saying "Let's hope the boys can give a better performance away to Dingwall next week or they will get another roasting!"
Tain Thistle's opening competitive match ended in controversial fashion as a refereeing error left a bitter taste in Jags mouths. New side Fortrose Union battled towards a 2-1 win on their home turf despite going 1-0 down in extra time.
In a closely fought game, honours were even at 0-0 after ninety minutes - a rarity in Ross-shire Welfare football - the only breakthrough coming from Keith Dingwall as he headed home on 70 minutes, but the goal was disallowed due to a foul on Fortrose keeper Martin Smith. Thistle undoubtedly enjoyed the lion's share of possession and chances during the game, but failed to make it count against a determined and motivated Fortrose side making their Ross-shire Welfare debut.
The unfortunate story of normal time was the unique performance of the "referee". Fortrose midfielder Jordan Black, having received a yellow card during the earlier stages of the second half was dismissed for a second bookable offence a quarter hour later, however the official elected to "allow" the home side to replace the player instead of reducing them to ten men. An exchange of words followed between the Tain dugout and the official however little order or agreement was mustered and the game took an ugly turn. Details of the incident and a report have been filed with the RSWFA.
In the first period of extra time, Keith Dingwall nodded home once again after five minutes, this time making it count to put Thistle 1-0 up. The lead was held for only five minutes though, as Union substitute Kenny McIver pounced on a rebound during a goalmouth scramble to equalise. Chances fell to many a Tain player throughout the rest of additional time, however Fortrose hit the Jags on the counter and Kieran Fitzpatrick deflected a rebound past Martin to score with three minutes remaining.
Try as they might, Thistle were unable to make chances count in the dying moments and Fortrose went on to win the match by 2 goals to 1.
Martin, Davis, Durrand, A Christie, Dingwall, Ross (Oliver), Farquhar, D Christie, Sutherland (Morgan), Rostock (Wood), Maclellan
Davis, Farquhar, Sutherland
For the second time in ten days, Tain Thistle recorded a win over East Sutherland amateur league champions Golspie Stafford, in what will be the team's final preparation for the forthcoming Ross-shire Welfare league season.
With Darran Goller and Vinnie Wood still absent (ankle injuries), gaffer Gary Ross had an otherwise full squad at his disposal for the evening, as the Jags debuted their new home kit - kindly sponsored by The Railway Hotel.
It took Thistle just over ten minutes to take the lead, following a sustained period of pressure; midfielder Chris Mailley lashing a ball past the Stafford keeper from distance. The returning Jamie Macdonald was unlucky not to make it two shortly after a shot sent wide.
At the other end, Stafford nearly equalised five minutes before the break when they struck the crossbar; Scott Innes for Tain taking a glancing blow to the head during the melee.
In the second half, a moment of brilliance from Andy Durrand made it 2-0 for the Jags, as the wing-back shot with finesse from the edge of the box to curl a shot over the top of the keeper into the net.
Tain introduced five substitutes for the remainder of the second half. The next goal however came from Golspie, in the form of a strike from distance, placed into the top corner beyond Steven Martin to reduce the deficit.
Despite the consolation, Golspie could not muster an equaliser, and in fact, Thistle were the less lucky of the two sides, as Jamie Macdonald saw a headed effort drift just wide beyond the stranded Golspie goalkeeper.
The 2-1 win marks the Jags' fifth win in six pre-season games as they now face the competitive challenge of league newcomers Fortrose and Rosemarkie Union in the Ross-shire Welfare League Cup on Saturday.
Martin, Davis, Durrand, Dingwall, Innes, A Christie, D Christie, Farquhar, Mailley, Macdonald, Rostock, Oliver, Sutherland, Ross, Smart, Morgan.
Tain Juniors' U17 side got off to a winning start in the SWL Ross-shire league last night away to Invergordon. The home side opened the scoring with a disputed offside goal after five minutes however Tain replied just before half time with Jason Macdonald earning a well deserved equaliser.
Throughout the second half, Tain looked the stronger side with thanks to a fantastic work rate and then on eighty minutes, Josh Rodgers scored the winner with a beautiful shot from just inside the box. The 2-1 result capped off a great start to the season for the boys, who will welcome Wester Ross to the Links next Friday.
Report by Mark Stainke.
Under new head coach Mark Stainke, Tain Juniors' U17 side began training at the Links tonight, preparing for another season in the SWL Ross-shire League. The Tain boys will play their first league game on Friday in Invergordon before playing their first home game against Muir of Ord on April 26th.
The U17's summer schedule is as follows:
19/4 - Invergordon (a), 26/4 - Muir of Ord (h), 3/5 - Dingwall (a), 10/5 - Muir of Ord (h), 17/5 - Alness Utd (a), 24/5 - Muir of Ord (a - John Maclean Cup 1st Round), 21/6 - Invergordon (h), 28/6 - Wester Ross (a), 5/7 - Dingwall (h), 12/7 - Muir of Ord (a), 19/7 - Alness Utd (h), 26/7 - Wester Ross (h - Jewson Shield 1st Round)
The Jags ambled towards a victory at the home of East Sutherland champions Golspie Stafford this afternoon, with a 3-2 win.
Missing several key players, Thistle were boosted by the addition of trialists Mike Mackay, Alec Beattie and Darren Custerson to the bench, while Vinnie Wood also returned to the side, having missed the the midweek trip to Invergordon through injury.
The game took an unexpected turn prior to kick off as the appointed referee was unable to turn up and a representative of Golspie Stafford volunteered to take hold of the whistle. Despite a promising opening for Thistle, a lapse at the back cost Thistle dear as Stafford netted from their first attack, albeit with aid of a "handball", gone unnoticed by the stand-in official.
Despite taking control of the first two thirds of the park, forwards Martyn Oliver and Liam Rostock were unable to find a breakthrough up front in the opening stages and on the half hour mark, Thistle were stunned again as Golspie took advantage of a break and scored. Frustration at the referee's positioning became prevalent as the Golspie forward was more than several yards offside at the time the ball was played.
Nevertheless, Thistle's hold on possession soon turned to goals as Liam Rostock turned beyond the keeper following a persistent build up to reduce the scoreline to 2-1.
Following the restart, Custerson and Beattie were introduced. Hilarity ensured as just after the hour mark, Thistle were awarded their first free kick of the game, to a rapturous and somewhat sarcastic applause. It was soon after when Arron Christie found the net with a speculative lob over the top of the Stafford custodian.
Thistle's dominance finally saw them take the lead as centre half Scottie Innes nodded home from a corner. A series of chances followed in the remaining minutes, with Vinnie Wood shooting just wide and Rostock missing a chance to finish having gone clean through on the keeper. A long range effort from Martyn Oliver flew just wide in the final moments as Steven Martin enjoyed the quietest second half he'll have this summer.
The Jags will feel aggrieved not to have won by more in the end, however with strikers Robbie Ross, Dean Morgan and Darran Goller to return from injury and John Maclellan weeks away from his comeback, goals are sure to be in abundance.
Martin, Davis, Durrand, Dingwall, A Christie, Innes, Farquhar, Wood, D Christie, Rostock, Oliver, Custerson, Mackay, Beattie.
With the reintroduction of the "Tea Hatch" this season, Tain Thistle's hard working committee have been carrying out some improvements and none more so than the work carried out by David Purvis, who, along with his team have reintroduced matchday snacks to the menu. David has spent the best part of the past week sprucing up the clubhouse kitchen in preparation for the new season.
The Jags travelled away for a friendly against Ross-shire Welfare opposition last night, returning from Invergordon with a satisfying 2-0 win. A closely fought game saw the sides divided by an excellent Martyn Farquhar strike and a first goal in Thistle colours for Dean Morgan.
Under new management, the Paul Austin led Social Club had introduced a handful of players from Alness such as Craig Munro and Kraig Vass among others to cover for absences, while former Tain man Mark Reid also started up front for the home team. Messrs "Vinnie" Wood and "Chippie" Mailley were posted injured for Thistle, while Arron Christie and Farquhar returned to the side.
Steven Martin was called into action in the early stages as a defensive lapse saw Reid played in one on one. The Thistle keeper however, produced a great save to keep the scoresheet blank, continuing the good form he has shown in pre-season.
Farquhar broke the deadlock just after 25 minutes play with a lovely strike sent into the far corner of Stephen Campbell's net from fifteen yards. The Thistle midfielder saw a later effort fly wide of target before Liam Rostock was unlucky to shoot just wide of the post moments later.
The Jags' back line of Durrand, Davis, Innes and Dingwall held up well to the threat of the Social's attacking personnel with Ashley Mills, Reid and Vass thwarted on several occasions. Up front, Robert Ross had worked hard as a lone striker against a persistent Invergordon defence before making way for the young Dean Morgan.
As both sets of players tired in the second half there were chances at either end and moments after Vass had seen an effort held by Martin, it was Morgan attacking the Social goal whose target bound shot was deflected past Campbell to make it 2-0.
The scoreline was a fair reflection of Thistle's confident defensive display and command of midfield, proving the match to be a satisfactory exercise for every part of the team.
Social Club team from:
Campbell, J Austin, Bremner, McLauchlan, Sinclair, Munro, Gourlay, Mills, Stephens, Reid, Vass, Sangwin, Patullo, P Austin.
Tain Thistle team from:
Martin, Davis, Durrand, Dingwall, Innes, Farquhar, A Christie, D Christie, Sutherland, Ross, Rostock, McGaw, Morgan, Oliver, Mackay.
Last night, Brian MacAngus, the Chairman of Tain Thistle football club, accepted the generous donation of over £600 from the Tain Bowling Club, in front of over 100 people at a packed raffle event.
Speaking today, MacAngus said: "The club would like to thank Tain Bowling Club for the fantastic donation made last night to the football club. A huge show of support was made towards Tain Thistle F.C, from all who attended the bowling club's weekly bingo night, and the committee of the bowling club too. It was truly a fantastic gesture from the bowling club community. All at Tain Thistle F.C are very grateful for the immense support shown towards us. Thank you all."
Black Isle side Fortrose & Rosemarkie Union will host Tain Thistle in the first round of the Ross-shire Welfare League Cup.
Union, formerly of the now defunct Ross-shire Amateur FA, join the Invergordon based MSIS team as newcomers to the Ross-shire Welfare FA for the forthcoming campaign.
The game is scheduled for Saturday, April 27th with a 3pm kick off and the 2012 cup winners Tain Thistle will be looking to spoil Union's debut at King George V Park. A win for the Jags will secure a place in the semi final at home to either Ross-shire Club or Alness Athletic.
Tain Thistle lost with a whimper this afternoon as a fit and firey Embo side bettered them at the Links, contesting a newly donated friendly prize in the form of the Purvis Challenge Trophy.
A second half Scott Mackay goal was enough for the visitors as injuries for the Jags and a solid performance from the Embo goalkeeper saw Tain fail to impress.
Central midfielders Chris Mailley and Vinnie Wood were both substituted in the first half, suffering from complaints of the calf and ankle respectively, replaced by the only subs available in strikers Dean Morgan and the returning Liam Rostock.
Graham Davis offered Thistle's only threat in the first half as he twice tested the Embo custodian Steven Mure with close range efforts but found his shots saved. At the other end, Steven Martin went largely untested in a game that was was far from entertaining to watch.
The second half continued in the same vein, however it was Embo through Scott Mackay who broke the deadlock, knocking a loose ball home after a defensive error had played the Embo forwards in. Despite producing a spectacular reflex save, Martin was ultimately beaten by the rebound. Embo had the ball in the net again not long after however the effort was disallowed following a foul on Martin.
Rostock and Morgan were positive in their attempts to equalise, and Jamie Macdonald did well to take control of the midfield but a resilient performance from Mure ensured that their scoring efforts remained fruitless.
Local man David Purvis donated a trophy for contention between the sides, designed to be played for every year, and with their 1-0 victory, the Sutherland side went home with the prize.
Martin, Davis, Durrand, Dingwall, Innes, Macdonald, Mailley, Wood, Ross, D Christie, Sutherland, Morgan, Rostock.
The Ross-shire Welfare competitions for 2013 will be contested between eight teams following the withdrawal of Inver from the association this past Thursday.
Joining Thistle are current champions Alness Athletic, League Cup holders Balintore, Pattisons' Cup holders Ross-shire Club, existing members Invergordon Social Club and Cromarty, along with new sides Fortrose Union and MSIS (based in Invergordon) who have also registered.
It is anticipated that a new list of fixtures will be released in the next few days.
An organised performance saw the Jags record their first win in many years over their Sutherland rivals Dornoch City last night, winning 3-0 at the Links. Martyn Farquhar and Craig Sutherland had put Tain two goals ahead before the returning John Maclellan found the net to open his account for the season.
Joining Maclellan on the bench was newcomer Stewart Shearer and former Jag Stephen McGaw as the only additions to the squad who defeated Contin on Sunday past. Meanwhile, Graeme Smart and Daniel Christie were among the absentees.
The gaffer's 4-5-1 formation proved fruitful in the early going, with Sutherland unlucky to be caught offside on a number of occasions. At the other end, Thistle held firm against the early threat of the Sutherland men, seeing two free kick attempts fail to find the target. On twenty minutes, Farquhar eventually broke the deadlock for Tain, scoring his second in as many games.
The defence of Cameron, Durrand, Dingwall and Davis held strong throughout a second half dominated by Thistle as Sutherland eventually found himself through on Dornoch's goal to finish cooly, making it 2-0.
Introduced as a substitute in the second half, Maclellan offered a new threat up front and enjoyed a string of chances, eventually adding the Jags' third of evening with a top corner bound strike.
The win continues the new manager's unbeaten run since he took the reigns in September last year, with 7 wins and 1 draw thus far in friendly competition.
Martin, Cameron, Durrand, Dingwall, Davis, A Christie, Farquhar, Wood, Oliver, Maclellan, Morgan, McGaw, Sutherland, Ross, Mackay, Shearer
Sunday afternoon saw East Sutherland amateur league new boys Contin AFC visit the Links for Tain’s opening friendly of the season. Kick off was delayed by fifteen minutes due to the late arrival of the visitors, however this did not disrupt Thistle’s preparation as they started the brighter of the two sides.
Looking confident, the home side kept position well and the majority of play was in the Contin half. Thistle were denied the opener after 12 minutes when referee Mike Stainke decreed Martyn Farquhar to have fallen foul of the offside trap prior to tucking the ball past the visiting keeper.
Thistle, sporting a 3-5-2 formation, were making the most of the extra man in the middle of the park. The pressure paid off after twenty minutes, when a long ball from goalkeeper Steven Martin led to a corner kick and from the resulting set piece Daniel Christie found the head of centre back Robbie Ross, who expertly guided the ball into the net - despite the best efforts of Jordan Tremlett in the Contin goal.
It was 2-0 only seven minutes later and this time Farquhar was not to be denied, after neat build up play involving Stuart Wood and Martyn Oliver the ball was worked to Farquhar at the edge of the area and he finished with aplomb, steering the ball into the roof of the net leaving Tremlett with no chance.
Contin had Tremlett to thank on 30 minutes for keeping the score at 2-0 with a fantastic reaction save; the big stopper getting a hand to a ball destined for the postage stamp, tipping it onto the cross bar to deny Ross his second of the afternoon.
Contin did have a chance to pull one back only a few minutes later however, as a mix up in the home defence allowed the visitors in behind, only for the attacker to roll the ball wide as the advancing Steven Martin narrowed the angle well.
Shortly afterwards Brian Cameron was adjudged to have fouled the advancing player 20 yards from the Thistle goal. The free kick however, was wastefully curled wide of target.
The home side made several changes at the break, bringing on Graeme Smart, Michael Mackay and Arron Christie and adjusting to a 4-4-2 formation. Contin, however, began to gain a foothold in the match and Thistle had their goalkeeper to thank only three minutes into the second half, making a block when faced one on one with the striker.
The visitors’ pressure paid off in the 55th minute with a fine strike from Dean Morgan taken from the edge of the area, finding the roof of the net. Morgan should have levelled the match only 3 minutes later but lifted the ball over the bar from 8 yards out.
Martin was again called into action when a mix up at the back allowed another one on one, but the Jags’ keeper was able to thwart the aspiring equalizer.
Tain introduced two former youth goalkeepers to the game, as Darren Custerson and Alec Beattie came on at the hour mark playing up front and wide left respectively.
The home team where able to get back into the game and took control of the midfield once more, this was to pay off with 20 minutes to go, Graham Davis scoring a fantastic diving header after reacting quicker than Tremlett in the Contin Goal.
Thistle where able to see out the rest of the match with relative ease, there were no other chances of note and a 3-1 victory, albeit nervy is spells, was recorded by the home side.
Martin, Davis, Dingwall, Ross, Durrand, Wood, Cameron, Farquhar, Sutherland, D Christie, Oliver, Custerson, Beatie, A Christie, Mackay, Smart
Tain: Ross (20), Farquhar (27), Davis (70)
Contin: Morgan (55)