The opening fixtures of the NWSAFA Division 1 league campaign took place this afternoon with goals all round the North Coast. League champions avoided a scare at Melvich to get themselves off the mark, while Golspie Stafford continued their good run with an authoritive win over neighbours Brora. At Helmsdale, United were humbled by Lochinver.
Melvich 3 Tain Thistle 5
There were goals aplenty in Melvich in a back and forth affair. Tain Thistle got off to a great start with a goal after just three minutes, new signing Shaun Kerr heading in from an Arron Christie corner. Kerr made it 2-0 seven minutes before the break with a good finish from six yards out after David Mackay found the striker inside the box with a cross. As the second half began, Melvich pulled a goal back from a corner kick, Kyle Innes beating Stevie Campbell with a headed effort. The North Sutherland side must have been taking inspiration from England’s midweek European hopefuls as they proceeded to complete the comeback to make it 2-2 when James Murray nodded home from a corner — and ten minutes later Martyn Cook put the home side ahead with a shot from inside the area to leave Thistle reeling. Were it not for some good goalkeeping from Campbell, the home side could have extended their lead. But Melvich’s resolve was tested just minutes later when Gordy Mackay was able to sweep the ball home to make it 3-3. From then on, it was Thistle who showed the metal to retake control when Darran Goller finished from a tight angle to make it 4-3. There was to be no second Melvich comeback this time though, and with five minutes remaining Goller netted again, this time with a header to wrap up the win for the Tain side.
Golspie Stafford 4 Brora Wanderers 0
In today’s East Sutherland derby, Brora had no answer against high flying Stafford Cup finalists Golspie, who recorded another four goal win and a clean sheet on home soil to set the pace in Division 1. Stafford got off the mark after a free kick was flicked into the path of Gary Mackenzie by Cameron Sutherland allowing the former to find the net. Brora’s chances of bouncing back took a bad turn on 21 minutes when Rian Mackay was dismissed for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity when he fouled Gary Mackenzie. It took until the second half for Stafford to add the killer second goal though, and it came from Cameron Sutherland who showed individual class to find space and slot home. Top scorer Eoghann Davie was sure to get in on the action and he did so when he opened his league account to make it 3-0 with a shot in off the bar. Youngster Gary Pullen rounded off a solid win for the home side with good finish on 80 minutes after finding space on the edge of the box, leaving Will Counsell with little chance to save.
Helmsdale United 2 Lochinver 3
One of league’s furthest flung meetings took place at Couper Park as Lochinver made the 160 mile round trip to Helmsdale — and the game ended up a closely fought encounter. Lochinver took just four minutes to get off the mark through Jake Lockett who finished well with a low drive from the edge of the box. The west coast side held the lead until a minute before half time when Jonah Martens equalised for United. But Lochinver were unrelenting in their command and ten minutes after the restart Lockett doubled his contribution and restored Lochinver’s advantage with a neatly taken half volley. The visitors wrapped up the win with eight minutes left when Ken Morrison added the finishing touch from six yards after good work to square into the box. Despite a late second for Martens, Helmsdale couldn’t prevent home defeat against their traveling opponents.