Initial discussions have taken place with the North of Scotland FA with regard to the possibility of North Caledonian League clubs being invited to participate in the North of Scotland Cup.
At present, twelve senior clubs (including Ross County, Inverness CT, Golspie Sutherland and Elgin City) take part and it is hoped, if all hurdles can be overcome, that 2-4 of the remaining places would be made available to NCL clubs. Initial indications suggest that qualification for these places could be determined according to final league placings.
At the moment the cup starts at the end of July and may be played midweek. Recent finalists include First Division side and former Challenge Cup winners Ross County, SPL side Inverness CT and Nairn County.
In a light-hearted closed doors game, Tain Thistle enjoyed a reasonable share of possession, as they visited Highland league competitors, Brora Rangers at Dudgeon Park on Wednesday night.
New signing Joey McHendry played a dominant game at the back, working alongside the alternating pair of Arron Christie and Martyn Farquhar.
Starting his first game for Thistle since late July, Scott Morrison played the first half, replaced at the break by newcomer and Welfare goal machine, Chris Cooper.
In addition to the debuts of McHendry and Cooper, reserve goalkeeper Steve Bannatyne enjoyed his first, yet busy, full 90 minutes between the sticks.
Thistle did very well to thwart a number of Brora attacks and came close to scoring on a couple of occasions. Chris Mailley most notably had the best chance midway through the first half, with a thumping volley caught by the Brora 'keeper.
Tain Thistle are only four games into their league campaign, but three of those have been on home soil. Having lost 4-1 to Bunillidh on the opening day and 7-0 to Halkirk two weeks ago, things could only improve.
The game got off to a good start with a much more dynamic looking Tain side dictating the play for the opening few minutes. Play was stopped for a quarter hour however when a 50/50 challenge between Ewen Thain and Stevie MacDonald left the Muir player too injured to continue.
Soon after play was resumed, Muir of Ord took the lead through Ewan Dance, with an all-too-easy ball into the box.
Returning Welfare star Liam Rostock scored Thistle's only goal of the game, equalizing for Thistle after 34 minutes, when Paul Austin's header trundled off the crossbar for the waiting striker. A calamitous miscommunication in the Thistle box a minute later led to Muir's second goal of the game, instantly putting them back into the lead.
2-1 up, Muir dictated the remainder of the game despite resilient and often solid defending from the home side. Despite a late through ball and long range effort from combining substitutes Scott Morrison and Brian Cameron, Thistle's scoring was not extended.
Adding disappointment to the defeat, Dance found the net again in the latter stages of the second half, making the final score 3-1.
Following notification from the SFA Disciplinary committee, Tain Thistle forward Daniel Christie has been handed a two match ban, which will rule him out of the club's games against Muir of Ord and Alness United.
The suspension follows his dismissal against Halkirk United, where he was deemed to have been spitting at an opponent.
In other news, goalkeeper Ross Henderson was released today.
Halkirk United took Tain Thistle to pieces in a completely one sided Grant Park affair. A combination of brute power and organisation made easy work of the Jags.
The home side were consistent with their start to the North Caledonian season, allowing visitors Halkirk two easy goals in the opening five minutes, before conceding a third in the 9th. All at sea, only goalkeeper Barry Nimmons shone through for Thistle, preventing the first half score from reaching the marrow.
Any confidence gleamed from better defending in the latter part of the first half was shattered in the second, as Halkirk increased their lead to five by the hour mark, with the Caithness side's Chris Sutherland only a goal away from a hat- trick.
Earlier scorers Mark Nicol and Stewart Florence doubled their contributions with late goals to round off a 7-0 win for Ian Macdonald's side.
The defeat for Thistle leaves them rock bottom of the North Caledonian league, four goals behind mutual non-achievers, Thurso.
To add to their woes, Thistle midfielders Arron Christie and Paul Austin were booked, while makeshift central midfielder Daniel Christie was dismissed late on for spitting.
Thistle now wait two weeks for their next game, due to the postponement of their away trip to Bonar Bridge.