Jags keep focus despite pitch switch

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A lack of referees on Saturday saw South Lochaber Thistle’s (SLT) home fixture against Rhu Amateurs reversed with the Kinlochleven outfit braving the weather to visit Helensburgh for their third league match of the campaign.

Rhu welcomed Thistle to Hermitage Academy having played six times so far in the league with only a solitary point to their name. But manager Sam Gemmill’s teams are nothing if not robust and so it proved here.

Deadlocked at 0-0 at half time, the Jags were striving to provide 22-year-old Archie Gillies up front with the quality in the final third to make the all-important break through.

Manager Alan Gray and assistant Albie Robertson advised the players to stick to their plans and, as if pre-ordained, the opening goal duly arrived.

Stalwart full back John Ferguson belied the biscuits he has for knee joints by snapping into a challenge out wide on the left. The ball broke to midfielder Andrew Maclean who gathered the ball, powered into the Rhu box, nosing aside the defender, and thumping a finish into the top corner.

With just another ten minutes played, the Jags doubled their advantage. Leighton Stevenson had been patrolling and controlling the midfield in a display which earned him the man of the match award, but it was veteran Dave Forbes who gobbled up the chance.

Marc Maclean scampered clear and his cut back was met by the club founder and respected local home owner who toe-poked a finish home for 2-0. Channelling another footballer of his era, Forbes even managed a Ronaldo ‘Zhu’ celebration to send his children and the sparse crowd wild at the rolled back years.

SLT saw out the match with control and professionalism not always present in the past to record a 2-0 victory.

Manager Alan Gray sad: ‘I was delighted with the victory over Rhu. We never looked in any real danger and the team – with yet another reshuffle of personnel – handled everything we threw at them.

‘We are in a fortunate position where we are having to turn players away from match day squads but there is enough football for everyone across the course of a busy season.’

Almost as pleasing for the club, from the point of view of its stated aim of offering football from cradle to grave, is the women’s team training on a Thursday night indoors at Lochaber High School and Albie Robertson back coaching the Junior Jags on a Friday afternoon. The free sessions are for any primary school pupils who can get to Kinlochleven Primary School, boy or girl, experienced or total beginner.

This Saturday sees the Jags travel to Kilmarnock to try to progress to the fifth round of the Scottish FA Cup at the expense of Ayrshire Premier League side New Farm Loch.

Photograph in August 2021 dated folder (NO F34 SLT v Lovat Arms 02): SLT goal scorer Dave Forbes in a midfield tackle with Lovat’s Robert Crawford earlier this season. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.