Game: Nairn County FC (U20) v St Duthus FC (Pentland Ferries Football Times Cup 1st Round)
Date: Saturday, September 1st, 2018
Venue: Station Park, Nairn
Referee: Stephen McDade
Assistant referees: To be confirmed
THE NEW season has finally arrived and it begins tomorrow (Saturday) with the a visit to the Scottish Highland Football League home of Nairn County FC to meet their U20 combination in the first round of the Football Times Cup (sponsored by Pentland Ferries).
A summer of change has seen the Saints forced into making a number of replacements in key positions. Opportunity came calling for matchday captain Jon Campbell who has left St Duthus to join his hometown club SHFL side Brora Rangers, while goalkeeper Steven Martin has also moved to play in the Highland League with Inverness side Clachnacuddin. John Skinner, club captain and 2016-17 Player of the Year, called time on his regular involvement following a cup winning season at the veteran age of 45.
St Duthus managers Stuart and Andrew Ross have not been idle in replacing key personnel. New signings Paul Beaton and Alan Geegan, both formerly of Inverness City, fill out areas in defence and midfield bringing several years of experience, along with Justin Rogers who arrives on a season long registration having previously spent time on loan from Nairn St Ninian. Midfield options have been boosted with the addition of former Alness United men Robbie Murray and Liam Hutchinson, and up front, strikers Jordan MacKinnon and Kyle Stewart have both moved to step up from the Inverness amateur ranks to join the club. Most recently, Balintore based striker Jake Lockett has also made a return to St Duthus, having spent 18 months with Golspie Sutherland.
The Saints enjoyed a great workout this past Monday night against Brora Rangers U20s - a side who play in the same North of Scotland League as tomorrow's hosts from Nairn. Winning 4-1, the Tain side looked full of confidence as they led from the second minute, showing their class in the second half with a flurry of goals to finish the game off.
Always worthy opponents, Nairn County U20s are now in their third season as a guest competitor with the North Caledonian FA. Last season's meeting in the same cup round went the Saints' way at the Links by 2 goals to nil, but with so many changes in personnel for both sides, tomorrow's match should prove an altogether different encounter. A place in the quarter final away to Inverness or Golspie awaits the winners of tomorrow's tie, where they will be joined by the rest of the association's teams who are otherwise on Macleod & MacCallum League duty today.
The new season will begin with only a handful of absences to contend with, mostly due to work commitments - while messrs Adam MacDonald and Rory Patience are still out action, recovering from injuries.
The game kicks off at 1.30pm at Station Park and admission for the tie is FREE.