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Clachnacuddin 0, Fort William FC 1
The long trip to Inverness’ Canal Park turned out to be more than worth it for Fort William FC on Friday night, when a 65th minute strike by midfielder Iain MacLellan secured three league points and the Simon Shields Memorial Trophy 2020.
This was the second league win of the season for Fort after beating Clach 1-0 at Claggan Park in September.
This time, it was Clach goalkeeper Jake Williamson who was left rueing a poor pass from his box after it was pounced on by the prowling figure of MacLellan, who charged forward and fired the ball into the net.
The 0-1 win saw Fort do the double over the home side, as well as posting a win in only his second game in charge in this, his third incarnation as Fort manager, for a delighted Calum MacLean.
‘I’m very pleased with Friday night’s result. We dominated the first half and we had a couple of other good chances but just didn’t take them,’ MacLean told the Lochaber Times.
‘Slowly, Clach came back into the game before we scored in the 65th minute and hung on to see out the game for the win. Those three points are very important to us.’
An estimated 700 fans were at Highland Rugby Club’s Canal Park ground for the game – relocated there while as repairs continue to Clach’s Grant Street Park following a Christmas Eve fire.
In the first five minutes of play, Fort were denied three times with shots from MacLellan, Donald Morrison and Roddy Kennedy all blocked by the home keeper.
Clach’s best chance of the half came on the 24th minute mark when Martin Callum’s 25-yard strike forced a top drawer save from Fort keeper, Mateusz Kulbacki.
Two minutes later, Fort’s Aidan Taylor gave the home fans a fright when his attempt from 25 yards out was just millimetres over the bar.
Kulbacki and Williamson were both called in action in their respective goals several times each before the end of the half, but the half time score remained at 0-0.
After the interval, Fort soon had Williamson under pressure with both Ross Gunn and Donald Morrison forcing him to makes stoppages.
But it was the goalkeeper’s error midway through the second half that gave Fort the opening they had been waiting for and that saw MacLellan find the back of the net for the game’s solitary goal.
Fort nearly notched their second goal in the 83rd minute but Ryan Fyffe’s cracker of a free kick was brilliantly saved by Williamson.
It made for a nerve-wracking final period and Fort hearts were in mouths when Clach’s Blair Lawrie came close to heading in an equaliser, but was luckily denied by the fingertips of Kulbacki who tipped the ball onto the cross bar.
Looking ahead to this Saturday’s league clash and Fort’s first home game of 2020 against Buckie Thistle, MacLean says it will be another stiff test.
‘All games in this league are tough and Buckie won’t be any different. They’re flying high at the moment, but hopefully we’ll have a couple of players back who we were missing the other night due to flu,’ he said.
*Fort William FC v Buckie Thistle, at Claggan Park, Saturday, January 25. Kick-off 3pm.
CAPTION: The Fort William FC team with the trophy. Photograph: Duncan MacPherson.