In the most relaxed of fashions, Thistle bounced back from a first half deficit to record a 3-1 victory in Invergordon last night. With gaffer Robert Ross taking a well deserved holiday before Saturday's Cordiner Cup Final, Arron Christie and Scott Drylie took the managerial reigns for the club's final league game of the season. Mark Lamont (holiday), Neil MacDonald (suspended) and Daniel Christie (illness) were all missing from the starting eleven, as Cammy Mackintosh, John Maclellan and Chippie Mailley stepped back in.
Dave Macgruer was first to offer a chance on goal in the second minute when his curling free kick rattled Philip Brannen's cross bar. But it was Invergordon who were first to take the lead two minutes later. A simple cross into the box was headed past Allan by the leaping Steven Christopher, formerly of Eastern Rose, and the Social men were 1-0 up.
Buoyed by their early lead, Social continued on the attack and were unlucky not to extend their lead after ten minutes when Gavin Maclachlan capitalised on a defensive slip to force a save from Johnny Allan. Lewis Macleod then produced the miss of the season as he burst past Johnny Allan only to tap the ball wide of the empty net. A miserable first half for Thistle was capped off with a dissent booking for Craig Munro as they went to the touchline at half time to regroup.
Thistle emerged a different side in the second half and after just seven minutes they equalised. In what was his 150th game for the club, Liam Rostock completed some clever passing with a curling drive from just inside the eighteen yard box over the top of Brannen and into the net. Two minutes later, Thistle had the lead and it was thanks to another injury comeback man in Mikey Dunnett. The ball fell to the defender fully thirty yards out from goal and without hesitation he rifled the ball with authority through a gathering of players to beat Brannen.
John Maclellan was unlucky not to increase Thistle's tally on a couple of occasions, shooting just over after cutting inside and moments later forcing Brannen into a one-on-one save. Liam Rostock also got in on the action looking for a second, forcing the Social stopper into action again. Rostock's second eventually arrived with five minutes remaining as he calmly lifted the ball over the top of Brannen into the far corner to wrap up the points for his side.
Allan, Dunnett, A Christie, Murray, Munro, Mackintosh, Mailley, Macgruer (Scott 76), M Farquhar (D Ross 76), Maclellan, Rostock
Rostock 52, 85, Dunnett 54
A superb second half performance from the Jags saw off Alness United at the Links on Friday night, as they booked their place in next Saturday's Cordiner Cup Final in Inver.
It looked as though Tain may continue to run riot the way they have in recent games, when, after just eight minutes, Neil MacDonald shot Thistle into the lead with a 30 yard drive that flew past Jodie Campbell into the net. Just moments later, Arron Christie had been unlucky not to score with a right foot volley at the far post after a sweeping cross from Neil MacDonald.
Liam Rostock should have scored on the quarter hour mark after yet another great ball from MacDonald, but the makeshift wing back's first touch could only send the ball trickling wide.
A series of contentious decisions left the Tain men riled, despite their lead, and before long the game became disjointed with neither side able to gain a foothold. Dave Murray was first to see yellow, collecting a booking midway through the first half. A headed chance for Evan Murray flew just over Johnny Allan's crossbar in Alness's best chance to equalize.
A second half regroup saw Thistle come out a different side, and within five minutes they had doubled their lead. Fouled just inside the box after cutting along the byline, Mark Lamont converted the spot kick awarded by referee Mike Stainke to make it 2-0. Three minutes later it was 3-0 and Lamont scored again, this time at the second time of asking after battling to send the ball into the Alness net following a rebound from a Liam Rostock shot.
Despite all of Thistle's work to put the game to bed, it seemed amidst all the heat in the game that a red card was inevitable and for a challenge from behind, Thistle's scorer Neil MacDonald was dismissed.
The Jags continued undeterred and just five minutes later it was 4-0. Collecting a ball just inside the eighteen yard box, Arron Christie spun a right foot shot towards the far post and the midfielder's shot curled beyond the reach of Campbell.
Just under fifteen minutes later, substitute John Maclellan was next to score, as he completed a superb move, converting a Lamont cross by heading home at the far post for his fifth goal of the season. Capping off a man of the match performance, Lamont secured his hat-trick seven minutes later with a tremendous solo effort, retaining the ball under pressure from several Alness defenders before guiding the ball into the box and beating Campbell in style. The goal sealed Lamont's fifth hat-trick of the season and his 27th goal in just 14 games for Thistle.
Three minutes later, Lamont was provider again, this time working well to cut back for Cammy Mackintosh to net from close range, bundling the ball past Campbell.
The victory sends Thistle into the final of the Inver Inn Cordiner Cup - a trophy which the Tain side have won just once before in 2009. In the other semi final, played today, Dingwall recorded a comfortable 4-0 victory over Fortrose Union, setting up an Inver final between Tain and Dingwall. The game will be played next Saturday, August 1st with a 3pm kick off.
Allan, M Farquhar, Dunnett, Murray (Smith 77), MacDonald, Munro (Mackintosh 61), A Christie, Macgruer, Rostock (Maclellan 64), D Christie, Lamont
Subs not used:
T Farquhar, D Ross
MacDonald 8, Lamont pen 50, 53, 81, Maclellan 74, Mackintosh 84
Having secured the Ross-shire Welfare league championship last week with a 3-0 win in Alness, the Jags welcomed Dingwall to the Links for the very first time last night, in what turned out to be a game played in friendly spirits, with Tain running out 4-0 winners.
Robert Ross made a number of changes to his side with Friday's Cordiner Cup semi final tie in mind. Michael Dunnett returned to action for the first time since his ankle injury in the League Cup Final in May, slotting into the back three in place of Dave Murray, who dropped to the bench. Neil MacDonald was reinstated in the middle of the back line while Arron Christie reassumed the role in between the midfield and attack, and in place of the USA bound Alan Duff, Cammy Mackintosh returned to the midfield. Liam Rostock also returned to the starting eleven, in place of Daniel Christie.
Liam Rostock made it a scoring return after eleven minutes when he turned the ball into the net with his first touch following some excellent persistence from Mark Lamont, who battled past several defenders before sending a low cross into the path of Thistle's all-time scorer.
Lamont himself got on the score sheet just four minutes later with a similar goal. Neil MacDonald sent a looping cross into the way of the onrushing Arron Christie who broke down the left side to rifle the ball into the six yard box for Lamont to direct it home. A second for Lamont arrived after 26 minutes, the prolific forward foxing Ali Smith in the Dingwall goal with a standing header which flew over his head and into the net at the back post.
Dingwall replaced Smith with Reece Reid at half time, and the stand in keeper Craig Morrison did well to keep Thistle at bay during the second half, blocking shots from John Maclellan on two occasions and thwarting Dave MacGruer who directed a curling effort towards the top corner. Mark Lamont was denied his third hat-trick in as many games on a couple of occasions, most notably rocking the cross bar with a cross come shot on the hour mark.
Celebrating his 33rd birthday, Chippie Mailley added the fourth and final goal of the evening when he collected a ball over the top of the defence before twisting and turning the goalkeeper a handful of times and calmly slotting the ball into the net with his less familiar right foot.
Allan, M Farquhar, MacDonald, Dunnett, Munro, Mackintosh (T Farquhar), A Christie, Mailley, Macgruer (D Ross), Lamont, Rostock (Maclellan)
Subs not used:
Murray, R Ross
Rostock 11, Lamont 15, 26, Mailley 73
Balintore have forfeited their Cordiner Cup first round tie with Tain Thistle, which was scheduled to be played this afternoon, Saturday, July 18th. Tain Thistle will automatically advance to the semi final, awaiting the result of Alness United v Contin to determine their opposition.
The Graham Jardine Memorial Quaich, which would have been awarded to the winners of today's game, will now be contested in a friendly match in September.
Ahead of tomorrow's Cordiner Cup first round tie, to be played between Tain Thistle and Balintore for the Graham Jardine Memorial Quaich, Tain club secretary Niall Harkiss looks at Graham's footballing days, speaking to a number of his former team mates, family and friends. Link: K & N Publishing - Remembering Graham Jardine
For the second time in three years last night, Tain Thistle were crowned Ross-shire Welfare League champions on Alness turf. A commanding 3-0 victory saw the season long league leaders secure enough points in the Ross-shire Welfare League to ensure that they can no longer be caught, confirming their place as Champions.
Dave Murray, Daniel Cormack and Liam Rostock were the only absences from the past weekend's cup winning squad, as Ian Ross, Martin Smith and Neil MacDonald were added. Cammy Mackintosh dropped to the bench with a hamstring concern, ending a run of eighteen consecutive starts for the Jags.
Results against this young Alness United team have been mixed this season. Thistle set out to make no mistakes this time around, though, as they carried their Seaboard Cup final form into this fixture, testing Ali Shanks early on with a couple of chances. The best came after 22 minutes when Mark Lamont dribbled past two defenders before squaring to John Maclellan who forced Shanks to turn the ball wide.
The opening goal arrived after 23 minutes and it was thanks to the persistence of Dave Macgruer who battled to retain the ball before setting up Mark Lamont for a shot on goal. His first effort didn't hit the net, but the rebound came straight back off him and beat Shanks for something of a fortunate lead. Any doubt over Thistle's authority was quickly quelled when Lamont scored a second. Rising above Shanks to reach a long ball along with Maclellan, he headed over the outstretched hands of the Alness 'keeper to make it 2-0.
Frustration set in amongst the Alness ranks soon after and Chris Graham was booked for dissent. Alness weren't without chances at the other end, however, forcing a series of corners, but failed to hit the target during a half which ultimately belonged to Tain.
The second half turned firmly in the favour of Tain Thistle when Daniel Lowe was shown a straight red for a kick on Nellie MacDonald. Adding to United's plight, referee Barry Stuart awarded the Jags a penalty just after the hour mark, after John Maclellan was fouled in the area. Making no mistake, Mark Lamont rifled the ball high into the net from the spot kick. His goal was his 22nd this season for Thistle - a staggering goal tally in only twelve appearances - and it was a new record for a Tain Thistle player, beating the previous records of Calum Macdonald and Liam Rostock, who had both scored 21 goals in one season.
The 3-0 win was more than the Jags needed on a night that they knew could crown them Ross-shire Welfare League champions for the third time in their eighteen year history. With 11 wins and just 1 loss, Robert Ross, along with his coaching team Scott Drylie, Arron Christie and Ian Christie can take great pride in a league campaign which has been fought as though each game was a cup final.
Allan, Farquhar, A Christie, MacDonald, Munro, Mailley, Duff, Macgruer (Scott), Lamont (I Ross), D Christie, Maclellan (Smith)
Subs not used:
D Ross, Mackintosh
Lamont 23, 28, pen 62
Tain Thistle lifted their first silverware of 2015 yesterday with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Balintore, on the Seaboard side's home turf. A hat-trick for Mark Lamont, two for Dave MacGruer and a goal of the season candidate from Daniel Christie secured the win, while James Metcalfe offered a late reply for Balintore.
From the team who defeated Balintore in midweek, Neil MacDonald dropped out of the starting eleven, making way for Dave Murray, as Robert Ross returned to the more familiar 4-5-1 formation. Balintore recalled first team regulars Steven Friel, Will Ross, Ryan Ross and Adam Macdonald, who had been rested for the league game four days ago.
Any early nerves were quickly quashed thanks to a Mark Lamont goal after just eight minutes. The prolific striker got on the end of a looping cross to head the ball into the far corner, past Steven Friel, to score his 17th goal of the season in just 11 games. Just three minutes later, Lamont made it 2-0 as Thistle threatened to run rampant, this time slotting the ball home from a one on one position.
The Jags dominated throughout the first half, looking determined and confident on the ball, showing much greater experience than their younger opponents. Balintore were not without chances in the first half though, testing John Allan on a couple of occasions, most notable from a corner when the Tain 'keeper was forced to tip a Stephen Mcgaw header over the bar from close range.
Any likelihood that Balintore may sneak a first half goal was put to bed when Daniel Christie netted just before half time. Turning with the ball on the left wing, the testimonial year forward struck the ball from 30 yards and watched as his effort flew beyond Friel and into the far top corner. An outstanding goal fitting of any cup final.
Daniel Christie's goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of the Seaboard side as Thistle quickly took control once again. Ten minutes into the second half, a quickfire double put Tain 5-0 up. Dave Macgruer was first to strike, slotting home from 12 yards before "Lammy" completed his hat-trick, lobbing Friel from a Macgruer flick, to all but kill the game.
Macgruer added a sixth eight minutes later, and several substitutions followed as Tain saw out the remainder of the game. Substitute James Metcalfe notched a consolation goal for Balintore with six minutes left on the clock, but the game had been won a good while before that and with no further goals, the game finished 6-1 to Thistle.
Post-match, the Jags gathered as the only team on the park to accept the trophy from one of the joint sponsors, Jimmy Oman of Highland Heatsave, who presented the cup to team captain Daniel Christie. At the Commercial Hotel, the players collected their winners medals as the club celebrated winning the Seaboard Cup for the second time in four years.
Allan, Farquhar, A Christie, Murray, Munro, Mackintosh, Mailley, Duff (Rostock 65), Macgruer (D Ross 85), Lamont (Maclellan 71), D Christie
Subs not used:
Lamont 8, 11, 57, D Christie 45, Macgruer 56, 64
After over 30 years of refereeing, Keith Middleton bid farewell to his hometown ground of the Links in Tain as he took charge of a Jags home game for the final time last night, fittingly in charge of the Balintore derby.
A former goalkeeper, Keith took up officiating after losing his last game as a player 17-0 in the late 1970s, opting for a whistle instead of the gloves. At the start of this season, he announced his plan to call time on his refereeing days. His final game will be the Cordiner Cup Final in Inver.
Everyone at Tain Thistle wishes Keith all the best for the future.
The Jags secured a further three points in the Ross-shire Welfare league while making it two wins out of two in the league over local rivals Balintore with a 5-2 win last night. Tain were without Liam Rostock, Dave Murray and Brian Cameron for the game, as manager Robert Ross went with the same starting eleven named on Saturday for the 5-0 win over Invergordon Social Club. Balintore manager Mark McAuley rested a handful of his first team regulars, presumably with one eye on this weekend's Seaboard Cup Final.
The Jags wasted no time in taking the lead, scoring after eight minutes through Mark Lamont, who tucked the ball into the net at the far post on the end of an Arron Christie cross. Chippie Mailley double the lead just two minutes later with a left foot strike from the edge of the box. Lamont scored his second and Thistle's third after eighteen minutes with a near carbon copy of his opener, albeit from a tighter angle. Dave MacGruer rounded the first half scoring off with four minutes remaining when he tapped the ball into James Metcalfe's gaping net from 12 yards, following a defensive mixup.
In goal for Tain, John Allan was sporting a protective face mask as he continues to recover from a nose break. But the Jags' stopper had little to do in the first half and was largely untested while wearing the contraption.
The second half continued in the same vein and the threat of Lamont paid dividends for Tain once again when he crossed to MacGruer, and the latter lobbed Metcalfe with a first time shot to make it 5-0. As Thistle rested on their lead, Balintore came back into the game, introducing prolific forward Ryan Ross into the game and in the 77th minute they pulled a goal back. Pouncing on a loose ball, former Tain defender Stephen Mcgaw struck the ball past Allan into the far corner. With five minutes remaining, Balintore were able to further reduce the deficit from the penalty spot after Neil MacDonald was adjudged to have fouled Ryan Ross, the striker slotting the spot kick just past the outstretched arm of a diving Allan.
The teams now move on to Saturday's cup final when we can expect an entirely different affair on Seaboard soil.
Allan, Farquhar, MacDonald, Duff, Munro, Mackintosh, Mailley, MacGruer, Lamont (Smith), D Christie (D Ross), A Christie (Maclellan)
Subs not used:
R Ross, Scott
Lamont 8, 18, Mailley 10, MacGruer 41, 58
The Jags bounced back from last week's defeat with a disciplined performance to ease past Invergordon Social Club this afternoon, earning a place in the final of the Seaboard Cup.
Several changes were made to the side, including the formation, the manager adopting a 3-4-1-2 instead of the usual 3-5-2 which has been the most used this season. Alan Duff, Neil MacDonald and Martyn Farquhar made up the back line while Cammy Mackintosh was positioned on the right of a four man midfield with Dave MacGruer on the left and Craig Munro and Chippie Mailley in the middle. Daniel Christie and Mark Lamont continued as the front pairing, with Arron Christie sitting just behind the strikers.
Tain never looked like conceding throughout the game and set out as they meant to go on after just five minutes with their first goal of five. Alan Duff received the praise for the opener as he rifled the ball goalward, however it was later confirmed the final touch, or touches, belonged to Daniel Christie who directed the ball past Brannen on its way into the net.
Five minutes later, Mark Lamont scored his first of the afternoon, taking a couple of touches before slotting the ball home after receiving it from Arron Christie. Lamont had created a number of chances in the early going, playing a number of chances across the face of goal following good work along the by line.
The third goal arrived after half an hour and it was Lamont again who netted after Arron Christie had forced Brannen to block an effort with his chest, the former rattling the ball into the top corner. Lamont secured the first half hat-trick after a series of neat one twos, getting on the end of the piece of play to cooly slot home and make it 4-0.
The second half started in the same fashion, with Thistle far and away the better side and rarely troubled. A couple of chances eventually fell to Social's Ali Mackinnon towards the hour mark but the striker shot well over, as Johnny Allan continued to enjoy a quiet afternoon, in his first game since breaking his nose. But Thistle remained in command. Alan Duff nearly got his name on the scoresheet with a speculative effort but his shot rattled the crossbar and bounced over.
The fifth and final goal eventually came from Chippie Mailley after some clever play by Daniel Christie and Mark Lamont, the Dornoch man tapping the ball home after Lamont cut it back across the face of Brannen's goal.
Late substitute Robbie Ross was unlucky not to make it six with the last touch of the game as he got the final nod on a goalmouth skirmish, but the legendary Jags marksman could only head over.
Allan, Farquhar, MacDonald, Duff, Munro, Mackintosh, Mailley (Ross), MacGruer (Scott), Lamont, D Christie, A Christie (Maclellan)
Subs not used:
D Christie 5, Lamont 10, 30, 38, Mailley 66
The Jags suffered their first league defeat of the season tonight following a calamitous first half. 6-3 down at half time, Thistle finished the match with ten men, as a young but disciplined Contin team saw the result out with ease.
Missing Arron Christie at the back, Chippie Mailley stepped into the centre half role for the first time since Thistle's 4-0 win over Alness. Daniel Christie also returned to the side.
On the tight pitch of Munro Park, Tain's five man midfield struggled to move the ball and overall Contin showed greater determination in the early stages. Top marksman Ryan Dow opened the scoring for the home team, pouncing on a chance after seven minutes. Tain fired back though and after forcing a save from Alisdair Maclean, Cammy Mackintosh turned a Neil MacDonald corner into the net to make it 1-1.
Within two minutes, Contin had restored their lead. Connor Ross, dribbling through the Tain defence with ease, placed the ball to Cormack's left to score. Six minutes later it was 3-1, Jack Mitchell powering the ball through the grasp of Cormack. Tain were all at sea and powerless to every Contin counter and on 24 minutes and 27 minutes, Contin added to their tally, leaving Thistle stunned. Thistle were not without chances, as Mark Lamont twice cut the ball across the face of goal to no avail. Lamont pulled a goal back for the Jags with a volley at the far post and Alan Duff forced the ball home a few minutes later. At 5-3, Tain were in with a chance of getting back into the game, but a calamitous sixth goal for Contin all but killed their chances minutes before the break.
The second half was one of Tain fighting against their own frustrations and Contin playing out 45 minutes and doing enough to retain their lead. For a bad challenge on Ryan Dow, Dave Murray was dismissed in what was the only noteworthy moment during a stuffy second period. Late substitutions for both sides saw the game stop and start towards the end, despite Thistle's best efforts to reduce the scoreline and time eventually ran out.
The defeat leaves Thistle eleven ahead of both Social Club and Fortrose Union in the Ross-shire Welfare League who also lost, while Contin leapfrog both to go third. Alness United closed the gap to eight points with an 8-1 win over Eastern Rose, moving second, looking the likeliest to challenge Tain for the title as we move into the final four games.
Cormack, Farquhar, Mailley, Murray, Munro (Smith), Mackintosh (Scott), MacDonald, Macgruer, Duff, Lamont (Maclellan), D Christie
Subs not used:
Rostock, D Ross
Mackintosh 9, Lamont 27, Duff 35