Saturday 6th October
Macleod & MacCallum North Caledonian League
Inverness Ath 1-2 Orkney
Pavilion Park, Muir of Ord
A late strike from reigning Macleod and MacCallum North Caledonian League Champions Orkney was enough to secure them all three points today at Pavilion Park and leave Inverness Athletic pondering how they never got at least a point for their afternoons work.
Both teams started the match fairly cautiously, with the first 20 minutes proving to be a very scrappy affair with neither side really creating many clear-cut opportunities. It would be Orkney who would finally break the deadlock on the 24th minute, when Liam Delday pounced to give the visitors the lead, finishing from close range after good work down their right-hand side. The opening goal seemed to panic Athletic a little as Orkney were unlucky not to be further in front a minute later, but Delday only managed to clip the outside of the post when through one on one.
Athletic eventually managed to settle after the Orkney goal, finishing the first half strongly. Ryan Dow was unlucky not to equalise, just failing to get a good connection on a cross ball after some excellent work down the right from Russell Macintyre and Dean Allison. Even a flurry of corners from sustained Athletic pressure failed to materialise in a goal, with Orkney always looking dangerous on counter attacks. Neither side managed to add to the scoring though and it would be the Islanders who would have the half time lead.
Half Time - Inverness Athletic 0 v 1 Orkney
It was end to end stuff at the start of the second half, with both sides knowing that the next goal would be crucial. Orkney had a chance to double their advantage but some last-ditch blocks by the Athletic defence kept The Orcadians at bay. 10 minutes into the second half Athletic were level. After a quick counter attack, Ryan Dow broke down the left and chipped a cross towards the back post which evaded the Orkney keeper and sailed into the far corner to give the home side a much-deserved equaliser.
The game continued in the end to end fashion that was seen at the start of the second half, with both working hard to secure the 3 points. A combination of poor finishing and good defending from both sides made sure that the score line stayed the same. Orkney twice had the ball cleared off the Inverness line when it looked easier to score but similarly Inverness had a goal disallowed for offside, but not before the Orkney goalkeeper pulled off 2 very good saves to keep the scores level.
With just 5 minutes remaining, as the game was heading for a stalemate, Orkney took the lead against the run of play. James Pickles found a fraction of space in the Inverness Athletic box, turned and fired low past Ryan Hunter in the Inverness goal to give his side the lead in this pulsating game.
The chances did not finish there, with Athletic nearly grabbing a late goal for a deserved share of the points, but it was not to be. A loose ball broke to Ryan Dow in the visitors half, he rounded the keeper and from a tight angle rolled the ball towards the goal only to see an Orkney defender scrambled back just in time to touch the ball round the post for a corner. This proved to be the last real chance of the game after Orkney cleared from the resulting corner.
Full time - Inverness Athletic 1 v 2 Orkney.
Assistant Manager Ian Flint said “Obviously we are gutted to lose the game so late on, but I am very happy with the work rate and effort the players put in, they could not have given me anymore. They fully deserved at least a point from the match today and on another day, we may well have got that or even won the game. It’s a hard one to take but we will get the lads back into training this week and keep working hard as we prepare to for Thurso in a couple of weeks.”
Picture Credits - Graeme Webster