Tain Thistle suffered heartbreak in their first ever North Caledonian Cup match today as they fell 3-2 to a resilient and hard working Thurso at Sir Georges this afternoon, after being 2-0 up at the half way mark.
Depleted following a number of call offs and players being unavailable, manager John Oliver named a starting eleven which saw Andy Durrand make his first start, while Kyle Oliver, Daniel Christie and Robbie Ross were all recalled to the first team after playing from the bench against Bonar Bridge. Darran Goller dropped to the bench following wisdom tooth treatment.
A brilliant goalkeeping display from young Ali Matheson in the first half saw Thistle hold off a strong Thurso attack, before a combination of events before the break saw Thistle take a half time lead.
The delayed goal followed moments of opportunity for both sides, with Arron Christie hitting a free kick just over the bar, while Matheson between the sticks performed heroics to thwart a number of chances for the home side.
A mistimed challenge from Arron Christie saw the Jags concede a penalty just before the break but Thurso’s Mark Nichol failed to find the target with the spot kick, placing his shot wide of the post, and the events that followed saw Thistle go 1-0 up on the stroke of half time. The goal kick that followed led to some clever exchanges between Paul Austin and Daniel Christie, before Daniel’s brother Arron fed a looping cross into the path of Ashley Mills, who drilled the ball beyond Michael Gray for the opener.
Chris Mailley extended Tain’s lead almost instantly after the restart, with a carefully placed free kick outside the box to stun Sir Georges Park. The goal gave Thistle a deserved 2-0 lead but a resilient Thurso fought back after the hour mark to pull a goal back.
Despite a number of chances either end, it was Thurso who scored the fourth goal of the afternoon, making it 2-2 in the final ten minutes of the game, after a stramash in the six yard box saw Matheson beaten.
Thistle battled hard to retake the lead but a goal in the most heart breaking of circumstances ended the tie on 90 minutes, when defender Robbie Ross netted in his goal, lobbing the ball beyond Matheson to give Thurso a last minute cup victory.
Despite the defeat, Thistle can holds their heads high, in particular goalkeeper Ali Matheson, whose outstanding goalkeeping performance saw him draw praise, deservedly, from his team mates and the travelling Thistle support.
Thurso will now travel to neighbouring Halkirk, after their Caithness counterparts took care of Bonar Bridge, by 4 goals to 1, at Recreation Park. The other cup results saw Dingwall record a comfortable 3-0 win over Golspie, while Invergordon were trounced by Muir of Ord.
Matheson, Durrand, Oliver, Morrison, Ross, Austin, Mailley, Mills, D Christie, Lawrie, A Christie
Subs not used:
Mills 45, Mailley 47
Man of the Match: