We were deeply saddened this week to learn that David Matheson, affectionately known as "Davie Embo", had passed away at the age of 47. Davie was a well known player and character in recreational football circles throughout both Ross-shire and Sutherland, having worn the goalkeeper's jersey for a number of different clubs, and for Tain Thistle as recently as 2010.
He will be fondly remembered. On behalf of the Tain Thistle players and committee, we wish to send our heart felt condolences to his family.
A double defeat to Alness Athletic ended the Jags' season this past week, as they fell 5-1 in their final league match, ending any hopes of a 2nd place finish, before losing 6-0 in the Cordiner Cup Final at the Links. The finale was not representative of Thistle's recent form, however, as they had been on a four match win streak prior to their visit to Alness's Academy Park. Shaking off the disappointment of a 1-0 semi final defeat Fortrose Union, Tain went on to beat Ross-shire Club 3-0, Contin 2-1 and Social Club 4-0, having exacted revenge against Fortrose along the way too, with a 2-0 win. The constant in each win was the free-scoring Liam Rostock who netted seven goals in as many games in July, reaching a century overall for the Club.
Jags' fans will argue that the side was greatly weakened by absences on the day of the final, as well as the departures of John Allan, Alan Duff and Michael Brand towards the end of the campaign. It is interesting to note that just six of the fourteen man squad who defeated Alness in last year's thrilling play-off were in the same size squad for the Cordiner Cup Final on Saturday past - however there is no doubt that Alness Athletic were deserved winners of both the league and cups they won this season. The league table after all, tells the story. Fortrose Union were the only other team to enjoy success under the Ross-shire Welfare banner, securing the Coronation Cup and finishing 2nd place in the league. On the whole, Tain's most competitive games this season have been against the Black Isle side.
The Club concluded the season a week early off the field with their annual awards get-together with a meal at Tain Curry Club before the players and committee convened at sponsors The Railway Hotel for the presentations. Martin Smith, the youngest outfield player in the side, collected the Most Improved Player award, closely followed by the returning Brian Cameron, while Paul Cowie, in a landslide vote, was named Player of the Season. Chippie Mailley, for his looping shot over the Social Club keeper in Invergordon, won the Goal of the Season award. Though it was not awarded on the night, Liam Rostock is, this year, once again the winner of the Top Goalscorer Shield, with 14 goals.
The Tain Thistle players and committee are not about to rest on their laurels though, as there are already plans afoot for a Christmas dinner dance at the Saint Duthus Hotel during the festive season and manager Darren Mackay has expressed an interest in playing some friendly matches during the winter in a bid to keep players fit and playing together.
The committee wishes to thank Kirsty McFarlane, Alan Nimmons and The Railway Hotel for their continued sponsorship and hospitality throughout the season, not to mention their tireless efforts washing the kit after every game. We must extend our thanks to Isleburn Ltd for their kind sponsorship, as well as those who continue to subscribe to our Supporters Club. Thank you also to Tain Golf Club for their hospitality at the beginning of the season for our annual Texas Golf Scramble - we look forward to our third tournament in 2015.
The past week has been one of mixed fortunes for the Jags. Having avoided a near upset against Social Club in midweek to run out 6-2 winners, Thistle's hopes of reaching the Seaboard Cup final were dashed by a serious lack of fortune against Fortrose Union.
On Wednesday last week, Tain visited Invergordon on league business and by the forty minute mark they found themselves with a very comfortable 3-0 lead thanks to a goal from Martin Smith and a brace from Liam Rostock. An Allan Campbell penalty for the home side reduced the score to 1-3 at half time.
Tain struggled to find the same stride that had given them such a healthy lead at the start of the second half, and mid-way through Social scored again, this time through the pacey James McGroarty. Any chance of a scare was eliminated four minutes later though when Alan Duff slotted home. A spectacular left footed curler from Chippie Mailley made it 5-2 moments later and popping up in the last minute of the game was Duff again, nodding home with ease.
Team: Allan, Davis (Durrand), Cameron, Duff, Brand, Farquhar, Cowie, Mailley, D Christie, Smith, Rostock (Gourlay)
On Saturday, against the backdrop of the bustling Tain Gala celebrations, Thistle welcomed Fortrose Union to the Links, recreating the tension of their Coronation Cup meeting three weeks prior. It was to be just as tight on this occasion as both sides produced a competitive game - as they have done every time they have met this season - but neither could find the net in the first half. Liam Rostock hit the woodwork on a couple of occasions and Johnny Allan at the other end for Tain made a couple of good saves.
Despite enjoying the majority of the possession, Tain were hit with a sucker punch in the second half. The opener came for Fortrose midway through when Jordan Knight stabbed home from a counter attack. To make matters worse, Rostock again hit the bar having gone round Martin Smith in the Fortrose goal. It was certainly not looking like it would be Tain's day, and what happened in the 75th minute confirmed it, as Thistle's Martin Smith poked the ball through the legs of his namesake who was dwelling on the ball in the Fortrose goal. Bizarrely, and to the astonishment of both teams, the goal was disallowed! There were chances to equalise in the minutes that followed, but luck was clearly not on Thistle's side. As time ran away, Fortrose valiantly held on to their 1-0 lead to ultimately win the game and advance to the final.
Team: Allan, Davis, Cameron, Brand, A Christie, Duff, Farquhar, Durrand (Gourlay), D Christie, Rostock, Smith
Tain play at home again on Wednesday night, welcoming Ross-shire Club to the Links for the first time this season in Ross-shire Welfare league action.
Tain Thistle have advanced to the Seaboard Cup semi final.
Their 1st Round tie against Ross-shire Club, originally scheduled for Saturday, June 28th had been moved to the evening of Monday, June 30th, however Ross-shire Club have forfeited the tie due to not being able to raise a team.
Tain Thistle have won the Graham Jardine Memorial Quaich for the first time, defeating Balintore by 3 goals to 1, in a double header that also saw them secure three points in the Ross-shire Welfare league.
Manager Darren Mackay, whose last involvement in the Jardine Quaich match was as a player for Saint Duthus in 2002, had to deal with a number of absences following the Coronation Cup final. Still carrying an ankle knock, Darran Goller missed out, while Liam Rostock was also unavailable due to limits on North Caledonian players. Martin Smith and Niall McVicar were also missing.
It looked like it was set to be a bad day at the office for the Jags when Terrence Brady, already a scourge of the Jags throughout this season, netted a first minute goal for Balintore, capitalising on an early defensive lapse. It took Thistle just ten minutes to level matters though as Daniel Christie took his time at the far post to control and slot the ball past Ross Powell to make it 1-1.
Thistle enjoyed the better of the first half from then on, and on the half hour mark, Martyn Farquhar handed Thistle a justified lead, showing class to calmly chip the ball over Powell in the Balintore goal from 25 yards. There were calls of "offside" from the Seaboard touchline, however the goal stood, capping off a neat fight back and a positive forty-five minutes for Tain.
Watching on from the sidelines, Jean and Jim, parents of former St Duthus and Balintore player Graham Jardine, issued a reminder of last year's second half comeback from Balintore - however, today it was not to be, as Tain set about ensuring a solid defensive display.
Balintore showed signs that they were capable of finding an equaliser in the first ten minutes of the second period, however resolute play at the back from Alan Duff and Michael Brand kept the Balty forward line at bay. A series of corners and set pieces at the other end heralded no further goals for Tain until the 65th minute, when Paul Cowie - a stand out candidate for man of the match in Tain's midfield - headed the ball home to make it 3-1.
Chris Mailley was unlucky not to extend the Jags lead as the minutes counted down and at full time, the score remained the same, handing Tain the victory. Post-match, Jim Jardine, accompanied by his grandson Robbie, presented the trophy to Thistle captain Daniel Christie. Both teams gathered for a photograph and applauded the winning team, concluding a derby match that had been contested in great spirits.
Allan, Davis, Cameron (Gourlay), Brand, Duff, A Christie, Farquhar, Mailley, Durrand, D Christie, Cowie
D Christie, Farquhar, Cowie
Alness Athletic emerged as the better side in the Coronation Cup Final yesterday as 2013 winners Tain Thistle surrendered the trophy to the better side on the day, at Dingwall's Jubilee Park.
Despite looking the livelier of the two sides during the opening twenty minutes, Tain were unable to capitalise and soon after at the other end, Alness were first to force a save from open play, rattling the crossbar shortly after. Thistle's forward chances then took a bad turn when Darran Goller was forced to withdraw with an ankle injury.
The opener came from Gavin Legge as the centre half took advantage of a spill in the box to make it 1-0 to Alness, and not long after, the Jags were struck by misfortune as Brian Cameron turned the ball into his own net, giving Alness a somewhat flattering 2-0 lead at the interval.
If the scoreline had been flattering in the first half, the second half certainly ended any debate as Alness Athletic were in control throughout. John Allan made a number of saves to retain some hope for Thistle, but the writing was on the wall as Alness rarely faltered. To make it 3-0 with ten minutes remaining, Mark Lamont slotted home from the penalty spot after Niall McVicar had committed a foul inside the box.
Allan, Cameron, Davis, Duff, A Christie, Cowie (Gourlay), Farquhar, D Christie, Smith, Goller (McVicar), Rostock (Durrand)
A mature and methodical performance from the Coronation Cup Final bound Jags was enough to humble Dornoch City at the Meadows tonight, with a dominant 4-0 win over the Sutherland side.
Arron Christie returned to replace Michael Brand in the only change to the weekend's penalty shoot out winning starting eleven, while Ross Gourlay and Niall McVicar were recalled to the bench following the release of Joe Sutherland.
The Jags got off to a brilliant start, dictating the pace early on with spells of possession allowing Darran Goller to threaten on the wing. Winning a free kick, it was Goller who got on the end of Arron Christie's looping ball into the box from the set piece, side footing the ball home at the far post with ease to make it 1-0.
It looked as though it may be a long afternoon for the young and inexperienced Dornoch side as Thistle enjoyed the lion's share of the first half, however the persistence of former Tain man Ayah Rattanaphithak gave Graeme Davis plenty of food for thought at the back as Dornoch's only real threat going forward.
Free kicks and corners were at a premium for Tain as Daniel Christie continued to show the same great delivery that he has all season; Alan Duff, Martin Smith and Darran Goller all unlucky not to score.
The second half signalled the beginning of the end for the home side following Tain's second. It took until the 69th minute for the goal to come and it did thanks to a long range effort from Paul Cowie which flew into the far corner of the net, leaving the Dornoch goalkeeper helpless. At 2-0, the gulf in experience became obvious as a petulant Dornoch back line fell foul of the referee's favour, earning themselves several bookings and a red card, all for dissent!
Thistle cantered during the final quarter hour and it was Darran Goller who netted the third, twelve minutes from time, finishing off a great move to slot home from an angle inside the box. In injury time, Martyn Farquhar netted a fourth for the Jags, getting a head to a speculative Daniel Christie cross to send the ball looping over the keeper and into the net.
Allan, Cameron (Durrand 65), Davis, A Christie, Duff, Cowie (Brand 70), Farquhar, D Christie, Smith, Goller, Rostock (Gourlay 82)
Subs not used:
Goller 6, 78, Cowie 69, Farquhar 90+1
Tain's defence of the Coronation Cup continued today as they secured a place in the final, squeezing past Fortrose Union in the narrowest of fashions with a penalty shoot out win after 120 minutes failed to separate the sides.
Rhys Shewan had given Fortrose a shock first minute lead after Thistle had hit the post to narrowly miss out on an immediate goal. The home side grasped control of the opening stages of the game that followed and through the crossing ability of Daniel Christie, both Alan Duff and Darran Goller sent headed efforts wide and over. Martyn Farquhar was next to try, firing just over the bar catching a stray free kick first time. At the other end, both Rhys Shewan and Kieran Fitzpatrick were unlucky for Fortrose, testing the Jags defence with clever dribbling and pace, but unable to find a goal.
Battling hard in what had become a very competitive game, the Jags finally scored an equaliser from a corner. Daniel Christie's cross found its way out to the edge of the eighteen yard box where Martin Smith was waiting to lash the ball home with authority to make it 1-1. The goal was a deserved reward for Smith who had held the ball up well in the game thus far.
A flurry of corners followed for Thistle with Liam Rostock enjoying the best chance, before the half ended with a few nasty exchanges, forcing referee Billy Murray to speak to both team managers during the interval.
The complexion of the second half changed considerably when Darran Goller found himself clean through on goal only to be taken down. The offending Fortrose player was then dismissed, leaving Fortrose to play the remainder of the game with ten men - an uphill task for the Black Isle side!
Despite the man advantage, the score remained 1-1 in normal time, Fortrose having bolstered the defence in a successful attempt to stifle frequent Thistle attacks. The proverbial game of chess was now being played as Tain embarked on thirty minutes of extra time against a Union side with their backs firmly against the wall.
Chances were plentiful. Martin Smith, Liam Rostock, Paul Cowie and Martyn Farquhar were all unlucky not to score as Fortrose expertly held their line and perhaps inevitably, the game went to penalties.
Anyone who has followed Tain Thistle in recent years will know all too well that penalty shoot outs have not ended well, however today the script was rewritten. Both sides scored all five of their allotted spot kicks before sudden death kicked in and stepping up for Tain was Martyn Farquhar - not renowned for his penalties! Despite the pressure mounted upon him by the bellowing Fortrose touchline, the Tain stalwart lashed the ball high into the net to make it 6-5 to Tain and the pressure moved to the Fortrose man, who fired into the on rushing hands of Johnny Allan in the Tain goal. The penalty had been saved and Tain advanced to the cup final!
The game was an exasperating one, but one that will be remembered for a while, as it possessed everything that a memorable game should have.
Thistle now travel to Dingwall to defend the Coronation Cup against a side who will most certainly be favourites in Alness Athletic. The game is scheduled for 3pm next Saturday, June 21st.
Allan, Cameron, Davis, Brand, Duff, Cowie, Farquhar, D Christie, Smith, Goller, Rostock (Cattanach 115)
Subs not used:
Tain Thistle made it two wins in five days over Invergordon Social Club tonight with a 4-2 league win to follow their 8-1 victory in the Coronation Cup 1st Round this past Saturday.
The Saturday game saw Liam Rostock return to scoring form with four goals against the Invergordon side as well as a hat-trick for Alan Duff, who completed his treble with a penalty kick in the first half to see the Jags leading 4-1 at half time. A goal from Darran Goller took the tally to eight as Thistle won at a canter to advance to the semi-final of the Coronation Cup.
Tonight, the same starting eleven took the field and it took them only ten minutes to open the scoring with some excellent team play. Taking the ball inside from Arron Christie, Liam Rostock played an incisive pass back to the left midfielder. Christie, with precision, played the ball into the box for Martin Smith to take a final touch and side foot the ball home.
Thistle doubled their lead on thirty minutes when Brian Cameron's speculative effort into the box was turned into the net by Social's Number 3.
A lapse at the back handed Social a life line as James McGroarty pulled a goal back just before the break, but Liam Rostock, heading the ball home from a free kick, restored the two goal advantage ten minutes after the restart.
An injury to Niall McVicar saw the Thistle defence forced into some immediate changes, and the Invergordon men were quick to capitalise, forcing a save from Johnny Allan before scoring on the rebound. The reduced deficit was short lived though as Rostock scored once again, pouncing on a loose ball from a corner to make it 4-2, and 7 goals in 3 games.
Allan, McVicar, Duff, Davis (Brand), A Christie, Cameron (Sutherland), Farquhar (Cowie), D Christie, Smith, Goller, Rostock
Sub not used:
Smith 10, Cameron 30, Rostock 55, 79
A second half fight back for the Jags saw them record another draw in the Ross-shire Welfare league tonight. Manager Darren Mackay made a number of changes for the game. Sitting out of the squad due to a limit on North Caledonian players was Arron Christie, while Darran Goller, Paul Cowie and Michael Brand also dropped to the bench. Brian Cameron, Martyn Farquhar, Joe Sutherland and Martin Smith were all called into the starting lineup. Niall McVicar returned to the side for the first time since April.
The game proved to the proverbial game of two halves. Martin Macdonald and Liam Muir had given Ross Club a commanding lead in the first half, but following a number of second half changes, Martin Smith was able to pull a goal back for the Tain men. With twenty minutes remaining, a penalty award handed Thistle a lifeline, and Liam Rostock duly scored the spot kick to make it 2-2.
The game ended a draw and leaves Thistle sitting a point behind the Dingwall club in the Ross-shire Welfare league table. Next week's games involve a double header against Invergordon Social Club, both ties to be played at the Links.
Team: Allan, Durrand (Cowie), Duff, Cameron, Sutherland, Farquhar, D Christie (McVicar), Mailley, Smith, Maclennan (Goller) and Rostock
Subs not used:
Smith 55, Rostock pen. 70