The weather forecast for this Wednesday's trip to Munro Park to play Contin predicts 26 degree temperatures, along with unwelcome thunder storms, as the Jags look to continue their 100% record in the Ross-shire Welfare league this season.
Thistle travel to Contin on competitive business for only the second time in history, the first game coming last season, ending in a 2-1 win for Darren Mackay's Tain side.
For the second time this season, Tain Thistle have been declared winners via forfeit after their opponents, Dingwall, failed to raise a team.
New to the league this season, Dingwall forfeited their home game against Tain in the league earlier this season, citing a lack of players, and this weekend, they did the same in the first round of the Seaboard Cup, leaving Tain with a pass into the semi final.
Invergordon Social Club disposed of Contin in the only other game to take place on Saturday, and shall be the semi final opponents of Thistle, in Invergordon next Saturday.
The Jags were pegged back three times tonight as they battled to a 4-3 victory over nearest rivals Fortrose Union in week nine of the Ross-shire Welfare league campaign. Eight points separated the sides before kick off in the league table as Thistle aimed to create an eleven point divide, and a last minute goal from Chippie Mailley secured it.
Thistle made two changes to the team who played against Eastern Rose last week, with the returning Dave MacGruer replacing Daniel Christie and Brian Cameron stepping aside for Chippie Mailley.
Chances fell to both sides in the early going. Mark Lamont teased the Fortrose defence after five minutes before sending a ball across the face of goal and at the other end Cammy Mackintosh blocked a shot towards goal that seemed destined for the back of the net. The opener was scored by Thistle though, on eighteen minutes, when Chippie Mailley sent a stinging ball into the box, but his cross-come-shot curled into the far corner, deceiving goalkeeper Martin Smith to hand Tain the lead. Fortrose were quick to retaliate however, and from a corner, Iain Mackay scored at the far post after some poor defending. It took Thistle just two further minutes to restore their first half lead when they scored from a corner of their own. Taking the corner short, Mark Lamont laid the ball off to Craig Munro who sent a perfect cross into the box for Alan Duff to power the ball into the net with a header.
Arron Christie was unlucky with a free kick moments later when his shot flew just over the crossbar and shortly after, Craig Munro curled a set piece bound for the top corner into the hands of Smith. The score remained at 2-1 as the first half drew to a close.
A fault with the home net delayed the restart before Thistle kicked the second half off and the game quickly descended into a one sided affair, with Thistle doing everything but scoring over a period of half an hour. Mark Lamont cut the ball back perfectly for John Maclellan with one of the best chances of the game, but clever defending denied the striker. As the half went on, Lamont also hit the post and shot just over with another chance. It seemed almost inevitable that Fortrose would hit Thistle on the break, and that they did, as a ball from the right wing made it's way into the box via Stuart Gammie and Rhys Shewan stuck the ball past Daniel Cormack to make it 2-2.
The tide didn't immediately turn, and the Jags pushed on to take the lead once again, Mark Lamont finally getting his reward for some persistent forward play with a leaping header, getting on the end of a Chippie Mailley ball to make it 3-2.
A calamity in goal followed, as Fortrose capitalised on the needless concession of a free kick three minutes later. From the kick, Rhys Shewan launched the ball over the wall and through the arms of Daniel Cormack, as the ball trundled in. It looked at that point that two points may have been dropped, and things seemed to go from bad to worse for Thistle when manager Robert Ross was ordered back to the pavilion. But the finale was left for Chippie Mailley. In the last minute, the midfielder sent the ball past Smith with a left foot strike from outside of the box to hand the Jags a deserved 4-3 victory in the most dramatic of fashions.
The win puts Thistle eleven points clear at the top of the Ross-shire Welfare league. Next week, the team travel to Contin for the first time this season.
Cormack, Murray, A Christie, Farquhar, Munro, Mackintosh, Mailley, Duff, MacGruer, Lamont, Maclellan (Rostock)
Subs not used:
Smith, Scott, D Ross, Cameron
Mailley 16, 90, Duff 20, Lamont 82
Scoring fifteen times, Tain Thistle recorded their highest ever winning margin as members of the Ross-shire Welfare league against strugglers Eastern Rose in Portmahomack tonight.
John Maclellan scored twice in the opening ten minutes to kick things off. He netted a third on 15 minutes but the goal was chalked off for offside. Mark Lamont netted Thistle's third. A bizarre lapse in concentration saw the scoreline reduced when Martyn Farquhar inexplicably passed the ball into his own net under no pressure from the opposition attack, but it wasn't long before Tain reaffirmed their lead, Maclellan finally completing his hat-trick, scoring after 23 minutes to make it 4-1. A stunning strike from Craig Munro shortly after, hitting the top corner after a square ball from Lamont made it 5-1 and Alan Duff completed the first half scoring to net a sixth from just outside the box.
A laboured start to the second half saw no further scoring until just before the hour mark, when Alan Mair turned the ball into his own net, and Mark Lamont scored one minute later to make it 7-1. Arron Christie and Dean Ross both scored for the Jags either side of further goals for Lamont, as the striker went on to net seven times to etch his name in the Tain Thistle record books for most goals scored in a game.
The 15-1 win narrowly beats the Jags' previous record win of 15-2 (recorded against Social Club in 2010) and earned them three points in the league, as they continue to dominate proceedings, staying eight points of clear of nearest rivals Fortrose Union, who were awarded a forfeit win tonight against Social Club.
Cormack, Cameron, M Farquhar, A Christie, Murray, Mackintosh, Munro, Duff (Scott), D Christie (D Ross), Lamont, Maclellan (Rostock)
Subs not used:
I Ross, R Ross
Maclellan 2, 10, 23, Lamont 12, 60, 71, 72, 77, 84, pen 86, Munro 27, Duff 42, Mair o.g. 59, A Christie 69, D Ross 80
In today's Coronation Cup ties, Tain Thistle crashed out at the semi final stage once again thanks to defeat at the hands of Alness United, losing to a last minute goal at the Links.
Missing a number of key players including Dave MacGruer, John Allan and Craig Munro, Thistle handed a first eleven debut to Sean Scott, while messrs Brian Cameron and Daniel Cormack were recalled to the starting lineup. John Maclellan replaced Tony Farquhar on the bench, and Liam Rostock, returning for the first time since suffering injury in the League Cup final, was also called into reserve.
Neither side gained an early foothold in the game, despite chances for both sides. Thistle had a goal disallowed when Mark Lamont set up Daniel Christie, but the net bound effort was chalked off for offside. At the other end, Alness failed to capitalise on a spilled free kick. Mark Lamont shot over from distance for Tain in the only other significant Jags' chance in the first half, before Alness eventually took the lead, through Chris Graham, after 41 minutes.
It took Tain until the hour mark to equalise and the goal came from a Neil MacDonald free kick. The Alness men were quick in going after a retaliatory goal, and were unsuccessful when they too had a goal disallowed for offside. With 15 minutes left on the clock, Tain believed they should have had a penalty kick, but referee Mike Stainke waved play on. A late chance for Liam Rostock was saved by Andrew Maitland and in the dying minutes, Michael Mckenzie scored the winner for the visitors, sending them through to the final, and Thistle out of the cup.
Cormack, Cameron, A Christie, Murray, Mackintosh, M Farquhar, Duff (Smith), MacDonald (Maclellan), Lamont, D Christie, Scott (Rostock)
Subs not used:
D Ross, R Ross
Mackintosh, MacDonald, Cameron, Duff, Lamont
Thistle did all the work in the first half of their league match with Invergordon Social Club this evening, winning 3-0 before a lacklustre second period saw goalkeeper Johnny Allan leave the field with a broken nose.
An early free kick for the visitors offered the first shot on target as John Allan easily gathered, but the action was quickly transferred to the Social Club end. Mark Lamont terrorised the "Club" back line in the early stages, dancing past several defenders to set up the opening goal for Daniel Christie who forced the ball past Allan Campbell after seven minutes. Four minutes later, Lamont dropped the shoulder to beat his man and direct a low cross into the path of Christie, who sent the second into the net with authority. It looked as though the Jags' latest forward pairing were set to run rampant.
An injury to Dave MacGruer on twenty minutes saw Tony Farquhar introduced, as Daniel Christie dropped into the midfield, but the Jags were to wait just a quarter hour for their next goal - from a free kick. Fouled just outside the area, Craig Munro took the set piece after a neat Neil MacDonald dummy, curling the ball round the wall and into the net. At 3-0, Tain had made easy work of their opposition in this first half.
The second half stated off with a booking for Dave Murray, following a late tackle, and the game deteriorated from there as neither side gained a foothold - Tain seeming to lack the motivation to add to their tally, and Social somewhat resigned to defeat. The limited highlights included a looping effort for Daniel Christie and a long range left footed strike for Arron Christie, and for the opposition, Rob Patullo shooting high and wide for the visitors.
With seven minutes remaining, the game took an ugly turn when an encounter in the Thistle area left goalkeeper John Allan with a broken nose, forcing Tain into yet another substitution due to injury. With five minutes to go for Social, the pacy Ali Mackinnon will have been disappointed not to net a consolation late on when he beat sub 'keeper Cormack to a through ball before rifling his effort across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.
The disappointment of the second half aside, the win more pleasingly sends Thistle eight points clear at the top of the table, following defeats for Contin and Alness United. The Jags are now on 21 points, tailed by both Social Club and Fortrose on 13.
Allan (Cormack 83), M Farquhar, A Christie, Murray (Scott 70), Munro, Mackintosh, MacDonald, MacGruer (T Farquhar 20), Duff, D Christie, Lamont
Subs not used:
Smith, D Ross
D Christie 7, 11, Munro 34
The final of the Pattisons' Challenge Cup will be held at Tain Links today, played between Alness United and Fortrose Union. The game kicks off at 3pm and teas, coffees and snacks will be available for sale via the Tain Thistle pavilion tea hut.
For more information on the 120 year old trophy, please read this blog by Tain Thistle secretary Niall Harkiss:
While Tain sat out due to Dingwall withdrawing from their league fixture, Alness cruised to a 7-0 win over Balintore in their rescheduled first round cup match at Seaboard Park tonight. The win for United means that Tain Thistle and Alness will meet next Saturday, June 13th in the semi final of the Mallard Bar Coronation Cup, Tain having beaten Social Club 6-2 this past Saturday.
Tain Thistle will not be made to work this Wednesday for another three points, following Dingwall's forfeiture of this week's league encounter. Andrew O'Connor's side failed to raise a team, citing injuries and other absences. As a result, the Jags have been awarded a 1-0 win and three points.