Pentland Ferries Football Times Cup Final

Posted on Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Pentland Ferries Football Times Cup Final

Golspie Sutherland 2-3 Alness United
Couper Park, Helmsdale

This seasons two inform sides Alness United and Golspie Sutherland went head to head to contest for the first piece of silverware of the North Caledonian football season with the Football Times Cup up for grabs at Couper Park, Helmsdale. They didn’t disappoint as a five goal thriller was served up for the watching crowd in a game which was in balance right to the last, but it was Alness United who were celebrating when the final whistle blew.

Right from the start both teams had spells of pushing forward with Alness United’s slick passing and movement being handled well by a strong looking Golspie defence. Golspie looked to have a more physical edge to them when they pushed forward, with a series of corners causing a few panicky moments for the Alness rear guard.

The first real chance of the game fell to Golspie in the 4th minute, when a slack pass back saw a James Mackay effort blocked by the out rushing Alness keeper Jodi Campbell. Alness United’s first real opportunity to score came in the 10th minute when Callum Johnston picked the ball up midway inside the Golspie half and drove forward into the box, but his effort on goal was pulled wide. Seconds later it was Golspie on the front foot and when a sliced clearance fell to Graham MacNab his looped header was dealt with by Campbell who had to tip it over the bar to deny Golspie the opener.

Michael Rae celebrating Alness United's opening Goal
Picture Credit - Graeme Webster

After a frantic opening period, it looked like the game was settling into a midfield battle with numerous fouls been made by both teams. From one of these fouls the opening goal came for Alness, when in the 16th minute Craig Munro floated in a free kick from midway inside the Golspie half into the back post, where it was met by Michael Rae who rose above the Golspie defender to head home from 6 yards out.

Alness’s joys were short lived as like a wounded animal, Golspie went on the attack. Forcing another set of corners, it was only 2 minutes later that Golspie were back on level terms when after a corner from the left landed close to the goal line it was goal poacher Sandy Sutherland who was quickest to react and he prodded the ball home from 4 yards out.

Golspie celebrating after Sandy Sutherland's equaliser for Golspe Sutherland
Picture Credit - Graeme Webster

The game started to settle down and it wasn’t until the 27th minute that the next effort on goal came and this was a 25 yards volley from Golspie’s James Mackay which was superbly tipped around the post by Alness’s Campbell. Alness were beginning to run out ideas of how to break down the Golspie defence, but another free kick from the left hand side was crossed in by Craig Munro and this time it was Alan Kerr who found himself in free space at the back post to head Alness United into the lead in the 33rd minute.

Alan Kerr is mobbed by his team mates after putting Alness United back in front
Picture Credit - Graeme Webster

This goal seemed to give Alness the lift they needed and had the Golspie Sutherland defence looking very nervy, with a couple of opportunities falling to Alness front man Lamont, but a combination of bad luck and a poor finish meant Alness United had to settle for a 2-1 lead at halftime.

Golspie started the second half strongly and the early tactical change of introducing Alan Larnach to their midfield worked, as Golspie enjoyed plenty of possession and Alness seemed to be on the back foot, with the attacking threat they finish the first half with now gone. It was substitute Larnach who unlocked the Alness defence for the equalizer as his through ball was raced onto by Sandy Sutherland who fired the ball into the far bottom corner for a cool finish to leave Campbell helpless from preventing Golspie getting back on level terms for a second time in the 54th minute.

Sandy Sutherland fires in a shot to equalize for the second time for Golspie Sutherland.
Picture Credit - Graeme Webster

Moments later Golspie should have took the lead when forward John Budge spurned a real chance when the ball fell to him inside the Alness box but Campbell got a hand to his effort to tip it over the bar.

The equalizer and the threat Golspie were posing seemed to wake Alness up in an attacking sense and they were starting to get some joy from the pacey runs of Mark Lamont and when he was played in by Finlayson in the 59th minute, he was denied a goal by a fine top corner save by Golspie keeper Graeme Williamson. Moments later a through ball from Jack Hudson found Mark Lamont again in the box but his curled shot into the top corner lacked strength and Williamson easily dealt with it.

Once again, a long floated free kick into the Golspie area was their undoing, but this time in controversial fashion when Golspie Sutherlands John Budge was adjudged to have pushed an Alness player and referee Graham John pointed to the spot. Budge protested his innocence and for this revived his second booking and was shown given his marching orders. The task of taking the penalty was given the Mark Lamont and despite the pressure he showed a cool head to slot home well from the penalty spot to Alness the lead in the 64th minute.

Alness United Players after Mark Lamont put his side back in front from the spot.
Picture Credit - Graeme Webster

Now down to ten men Golspie were forced to make numerous tactical changes and Bremner, Murray and Sinclair were all introduced from the bench. Despite the disadvantage in numbers Golspie continued to push forward, but were vulnerable to the Alness counter attack threat. Both teams continued to create chance with Golspie looking for the equalizer and Alness that killer fourth goal.

The game continued to be on a knife edge deep into injury time with Alness having to defend more and more onslaughts from a desperate looking Golspie and Alness passing up several counter attack opportunities. It wasn’t until deep into injury time that Alness looked to kill the game off when substitute Jude Fraser had the ball in the Golspie net, but his effort was ruled out by an off-side flag. However, so after the Alness tension was released by joyous celebrations on hearing the final whistle.

Gordon Finlayson lifting the cup for Alness United
Picture Credit - Graeme Webster

Shortly after the presentation took place with NCFA secretary Iain Whitehead thanked competition sponsors Pentland Ferries, along with Bunillidh Thistle for providing the pitch and Social Club for hosting the final. The man of match award was given Michael Rae from Alness United and the Alness captain Gordon Finlayson was presented the Football Times Cup by North Caledonian honorary Vice President Jean Mackenzie