The opening fixtures of the new North West Sutherland amateur league season took place today with the first round matches of the Stafford Cup. First time cup competitors Tain Thistle and Inver had home ties against Melvich and Kinlochbervie, respectively. Embo were also at home, welcoming Lochinver, while the game between Dornoch and Golspie Stafford to be played at the Meadows was postponed until Wednesday to allow for a sponsored walk fundraiser organised by the home club.
Inver 4 Kinlochbervie 3
In front of a crowd of over 100 spectators, new boys Inver played their first competitive game in over seven years — and they took just six minutes to serve up the opener. Returning to play for the club he once scored 59 goals for in just one season some 19 years ago, Lewis Ross proved he hasn’t lost a step when he played a killer ball across the face of goal, allowing 17 year old Aiden Stainke to break the deadlock with a composed finish from 5 yards out. In a twist, young keeper Aneek Khan was given his amateur debut midway through the first half when David Crombie was forced to withdraw due to injury. The home side doubled their lead ten minutes before the interval when centre half Sam Beeston popped up with a header to make it 2-0.
As the second half began, Jordan Hailes extended his side’s advantage when he got on the end of a corner to volley home at the back post. KLB managed to claw their way back, firstly with a goal from Sam Lucas, before a superb strike from Kinlochbervie’s Liam Flett reduced the scoreline to 3-2. Showing great resiliency, however, Inver replied straight away through Calum Greenlees, who cut in from the left before finding the top corner with a great strike of his own to make it 4-2. The game turned sour with 25 minutes to go as Rory Vass was shown a red card and Inver were made to sweat following another good goal from Nathan Corbett to leave just one goal in it. Greenlees’ goal ultimately proved to be the winner though, as the home side were able to hang on and record a winning return to summer football.
Embo 1 Lochinver 3
At Back Park, home side Embo didn’t have the start they would have wanted against visitors Lochinver, who were firing on all cylinders during a busy first half. Player manager Ally Macleod got his side off the mark with a goal twenty minutes into the game, scoring with a deflected shot that left Derek Welch helpless in the Embo goal. Within five minutes, the west coasters were 2-0 up thanks to a spectacular overhead kick from Chris Campbell. All was not immediately lost for Embo as Ullapool native David Crook pulled one back for the home side just before the half hour mark with an impressive strike that found the top corner. Any chance of a comeback was put to bed soon after though when Lochinver struck again five minutes before the interval; Daniel Hutchison doing the needful, slotting home from a knock on inside the box.
There was no further scoring to be had in the second period; Jack Theakston coming closest to adding to Lochinver’s tally with a long range shot off the crossbar. For Embo, though, the damage had been done during the first half, as Lochinver ultimately cruised to victory.
Tain Thistle 6 Melvich 0
League champions Tain Thistle are competing in the Stafford Cup for the first time this year and they got off to a winning start with a 6-0 win over visitors Melvich at the Links Playing Fields. 19 year old winger Finn As-Chainey set the pace on 13 minutes when he slotted the ball past Melvich ‘keeper Brian Mackay after good work from Will Ross. There was hardly time for a comeback before Mackay was beaten again, this time by one of his own defenders, as Kerr Mackay deflected a low drilled cross from As-Chainey into the net. It was 3-0 on 30 minutes with another goal from As-Chainey and the same player had the chance of a hat-trick minutes later, but Mackay was up to the challenge and saved well. Christopher ‘Chippie’ Mailley made it four ten minutes before half time when he collected the ball just outside the box and scored with a low drive which cannoned off the upright and into the net.
With the game all but over as a contest by the second half, things went from bad to worse for Melvich when Connor Macintosh was shown his marching orders for dissent. It was left to Thistle striker Liam Rostock to add to the tally for Tain after that, netting with a spot kick after As-Chainey had been brought down in the box. Substitute Gordy Mackay made it 6-0 shortly after being introduced. Receiving the ball from Cammy Mackintosh, Mackay’s initial shot came back off the post but the forward was quick to the rebound and fired home
Updated Stafford Cup Quarter Finals:
Brora Wanderers vs. Lochinver
Invergordon SC vs. Helmsdale United
Lairg Rovers vs. Tain Thistle
Dornoch or Golspie Stafford vs. Inver
To be played on Saturday April 20th.