Dalmore Park, Ness Cup League 2, 19/12/20
Entry – N/A despite being Tier 1
Attendance – Unofficially 42
Pie – N/A
Pint – N/A
Alness United Football Club
Founded – 1890 (Approx).
Nickname – None
Honours –North Caledonian League 1972-73, 1973-74, 2000-01, 2004-05. North of Scotland /North Caledonian Cup -1973-74, 1999-00, 2013-14
Random Fact – The club were formerly known as Easter Ross FC but in 1973 were renamed Alness United
The North Caledonian set up. The only body/league set up on our shores I had not taken in ninety minutes of. It is now done and dusted after a trip up to Ross and Cromarty. A trip I have had eyed up since the league fixtures were drawn up.
I wouldn’t have imagined how big a game it was to be a couple of months ago. The NCFA has two leagues this season due to the corona pandemic. This meaning Alness, who were returning to the fold after a year of abeyance last season find themselves in a league with todays visitors Inverness Athletic, Nairn County ‘A’, Loch Ness, Bonar Bridge and Scourie. The winner of the group takes on the winner of League 1. Starting the day four points behind Inverness with three games in hand, a win for the hosts would throw a serious cat in amongst the pigeons as Inverness and Nairn (first and second) are two games from finished(Inverness one after today). The hosts deservedly went second and one off the top come 14.45
The day started well, leaving the Garioch in murky rainy crap weather soon cleared to such an extent the sunnies had to come out. This topped off by no announcement of the game being off, which I was worried about after seeing near by Clachnacuddin’s game against Inverurie Locos biting the dust to a waterlogged pitch in the morning. By the time we reached the Cromarty Firth there was sun, no clouds and a scorching hot 10 degrees C awaiting us. With the corona stuff going on and the fact we should not really have been there (on two counts) there was no morning point of interest like a usual day out at the fitba. But there was time to carry out something I always do when in the area. Head into Invergordon to check out the oil rig graveyard. To my surprise it really wasn’t bad. The best I have seen it in a long time. A couple of drillers, a jack up and a pipe laying boat was all I could see. Last few times I was up there it was not good viewing for the industry. A pleasant surprise.
Then to the game. We got there so close to KO we walked in behind the referee and Linos. I was glad to see a decent sized crowd watching. At one point I’m sure I clocked forty two including Wee Man and myself. This is helped by a footpath along the wing of the park. Meaning some dog walkers stop and have a gander. The game might not go down in my history books as a classic but I am more than glad I took it on. Alness United are a very good passing fitba team, rarely taking the ball off the deck. They showed for large parts of the first half why they are going to be in the mix for the league for a reason, and also their handsome goal difference of thirty four for and three against in five games is deserved as they looked good enough to demolish the poorer teams( a 13-0 v Scourie proves it). A lot of the half the Inverness players were left to chase the ball, and committed foul after foul. They were clearly struggling with the pace of Alness’ passing game. Fortunately for the visitors , when the hosts found themselves with good opportunities they lacked the cutting edge and spurned numerous decent chances. The did finally take the lead after what looked to me a soft penalty was given. Ryan McFee didn’t care as he despatched it with no issues. Inverness found themselves with a few chances but in similar fashion to Alness wasted them by choosing the wrong options. Athletic were to rue these misses late on in the half when they found themselves down 2-0 in calamitous circumstances. The cross was driven into the box with venom and while facing the goal the Inverness number five Craig Morrison tried to clear for a corner(I think) but made a fantastic connection on the ball and send a booming header into the top corner leaving his keeper with out a hope in hell. A finish you would be proud of if it was in the right end.
After a half time of well below the standard fifteen minutes, Inverness were a team transformed. An early chance fell to their number ten MacLeod who like numerous other chances during the afternoon was hit high wide and handsome. The striker really should have done better. From here it seemed like Alness had lost their swagger a bit and Inverness brought the game to them and deservedly pulled one back through substitute Jordan Morrison who had been on the park for less than a minute. The new addition rifled home a knock down to half the deficit. The couple of subs made by Athletic had clearly got their tails up but bizarrely they didn’t capitalize from their goal and after scoring it retreated back into their shell leaving Alness to carry on in the fashion of the first half, chances galore with one off the line and a decent tip over the bar from MacLeod in the Athletic goal being the pick of the chances. From my vantage point I am convinced they should have had a penalty for handball, but it was not needed and a huge three points stayed next to the Cromarty Firth.
Far from a classic, with the late tip over the bar being the fist real save of the match, but Wee Mans NCFA cherry has been popped, mine has also. It also may be the last game we see for a while after the most recent fear mongering from the government. Another ground added to the lists, on a cracker of a December day and it wasn’t 0-0. I’ll take it and so will Wee Man as he was fair contented in the car home. I’ll definitely be heading to more NCFL matches in the near future if we are allowed. Thurso, Scourie and Halkirk, I am looking at you.
Me 188, Wee Man 57