OPENING DAY POINT FOR ATHLETIC
Golspie Sutherland 4-4 Inverness Athletic
Inverness Athletic kicked off the new North Caledonian League season with a draw, as Jason Golabek’s men played out an eight goal thriller with Golspie Sutherland.
Athletic named a much changed side from the one that ended the 2020/21 season, with no fewer than eight players making their first starts for the club. Jamie Calder, Cal White, Graham Stewart, Ben Craig-Hislop, Charlie Thompson, Kieran Duffty, Thomas Lewis and Ewen MacDonald all made their competitive debuts for the club.
The saying “a game of two halves” is often used in football, but if there was ever a game to epitomise that saying it was this one. The first half had an opening day fixture feel about it with both sides edging their way into the contest, with Athletic probably finding their feet quicker than their hosts and creating a couple of half chances to break the deadlock. As the first half went on, Golspie Sutherland started to grow into the game and their quality started to show, calling Craig Mackay in the Athletic goal into a couple of smart saves. Neither side really troubled the opposition goalkeeper for the remainder of the first half and the teams went in at the break level.
Half Time - Golspie Sutherland 0-0 Inverness Athletic
The second half started, and you could see from the off that Golspie Sutherland had moved up a gear. They were starting to control and dictate the game and were pinning Athletic back inside their own half. That pressure finally took its toll just before the hour mark as Liam Bremner picked the ball up at the corner of the 18 yard box, lifted his head, and guided a stunning strike into the top corner of the net.
That goal from Bremner seemed to wake Athletic up, who had not started the second half the way they had finished the first, and within 2 minutes Bremners strike Golabek’s side were level. Luke Mackay picked the ball up wide on the right a drove a cross along the six yard box which was fumbled by the Golspie Sutherland keeper, with Thomas Lewis on hand to stroke the ball into the empty net. Fantastic response from this young Athletic side.
Lewis’s strike seemed to inject fresh belief into Athletic who were unlucky not to go ahead five minutes later. A Matty Shewan free kick from wide on the right was met in the air by Jamie Calder, who saw his effort cannon back of the bar, hit Thomas Lewis and go just past the left hand post.
Three minutes later it was the hosts who were back in front. Ally Macleod, after some neat footwork on the left, dug out a cross to the back post where that man Bremner rose to head home and give Sam Mackay’s team the lead again.
What followed was a crazy but fruitful eight minute spell for Inverness Athletic. It started on the 73rd minute when Thomas Lewis latched onto a long ball, composed himself and lobbed the on rushing keeper for his second of the afternoon. It got better for Lewis and Athletic just two minutes later. He sprung the offside trap and got himself on the end of a brilliant through ball, rounded the advancing keeper and rolled the ball into the empty net for his hat trick. Athletic would stretch their lead further just five minutes later. Graham Stewart played a fantastic through ball to fellow new signing Kieran Duffty who drove into the box, steadied himself and guided his finish past the keeper.
Golspie Sutherland, much like the start of the half, dominated the last ten minutes of this game, pushing Athletic back deep into their own half, with Golabek’s side unable to find a way out. That pressure finally told as Golspie Sutherland netted two quick goals through Shaun Urquart before Liam Bremner completed his hat trick.
The game would finish 4-4 in what was an incredibly exciting and entertaining second half of football, with both teams feeling that a point each was a fair reflection for their afternoons work.
Full Time - Golspie Sutherland 4-4 Inverness Athletic
The manager spoke to us after the game, “Its crazy that we are disappointed with a point against Golspie Sutherland but that is how we feel. We were 4-2 up and should have managed the game better but that is this league in a nutshell, you can never switch off or teams will punish you. To be honest if you had offered us a point before the game, we would have snapped your hand off. Golspie is never an easy place to come, and the lads worked their socks off. I could not have asked anymore of them. We have a very young side here, but they are hard working, honest lads and are keen to improve, which they will. We move onto next week for the visit of Orkney. “
Team lines - Golspie Sutherland v Inverness Athletic