St. Duthus Football Club added their first silverware of the 2019-20 season this past weekend by winning the Football Times Cup in spectacular fashion, defeating North Caledonian League rivals Golspie Sutherland by 3 goals to 2.
It took an inspired second half turnaround to secure the trophy, having conceded a goal right on the stroke of half-time before a seven minute brace from in-form striker Ben Bruce put the Tain side into a 2-1 lead. Liam Rostock extended their advantage with eleven minutes to go and despite Golspie reducing the deficit late on in the game, Saints showed great resilience to see the game out to emerge victorious. It is the first time that Saints have won the trophy since 1982.
Over 250 supporters traveled to the neutral venue of Dudgeon Park - home to Highland Football League leaders Brora Rangers - to support their teams.
Inclement weather, in particular an unforgiving wind, made for a difficult first half for both sides, with neither able to gain a significant advantage. The half wasn’t short of incident though. On just 11 minutes, referee Eddie Nichol had to reach for his pocket after Golspie goalkeeper felled Saints midfielder Jon Campbell who was advancing on goal. With many claiming a last man offence, there was surprise when a yellow card emerged - an early let off for the Sutherland side.
Chances were at a premium for both sides with most of the action contained in the midfield. Ross Tokely went close with a free kick in the early going with Saints edging the best of the possession but Golspie were winning a good number of set pieces, mostly corners; Johnny Allan forced to tip one over the bar that was sent looping into the box. Along with Charlie Macdonald and John Skinner though, Ross Tokely was talismanic in his efforts to ensure that it would take something special for Golspie to find the Saints net.
In the end, something special did break the deadlock as a goal arrived for Golspie on the stroke of half time. After a good block on the line from Adam Allan, the ball sprung out to Golspie defender Craig Ross who hit an unstoppable volley to fire the ball past the spreadeagled Johnny Allan from 25 yards.
Half-time immediately followed and the usual regroup took place. The impact of this was almost immediate as Ben Bruce fired a shot on target to bring Golspie stopper Graeme Williamson into action. Williamson had no luck five minutes later though as Bruce tucked the ball past the onrushing keeper after getting on the end of an incisive ball from Cammy Mackintosh.
Seven minutes later a moment of magic put St. Duthus into a deserved 2-1 lead. Collecting a ball from Craig Munro, Bruce backheeled to Stefan MacRitchie who chipped the ball back into the path of the advancing striker before he juggled the ball and bulleted it past Williamson - a goal to remember. The turnaround had been completed, leaving Golspie reeling.
The Saints pressure continued and on 79 minutes they took full advantage when substitute Liam Rostock caught Williamson off his line with a brilliant lob, hit first time with the Golspie back line chasing a lost cause.
Saints were made to sweat in the dying stages after Adam Sutherland netted from a corner to reduce the deficit, but there was to be no drama in the end as St. Duthus held on valiantly to win the cup.
Post-match, North Caledonian FA president Iain Whitehead presented the winners with their medals before St. Duthus captain Cammy Mackintosh stepped up to the collect the 83 year old trophy. For his goals and an excellent performance, Ben Bruce was named as the Man of the Match.
Both teams convened after the game to the Brora Rangers Social Club where soup, sandwiches and refreshments were served. From then on, the victorious Saints returned to the Royal Hotel in Tain where celebrations on home soil commenced!
Graeme Williamson (bkd), Danny Coghill (Eoghann Davie 73), Craig Ross, Owen Harrold, Shaun Urquhart (Blair Duncan 85), Adam Sutherland, Ally Macleod (Sean Munro 55), Grant Macnab, Sandy Sutherland (Conor Cormack 55), Martin Banks, Liam Bremner
Sub not used: Gavin Sinclair
John Allan, Adam Allan (Robbie Murray 84), Ross Tokely, John Skinner, Charlie Macdonald (bkd), Jon Campbell (bkd), Stefan MacRitchie (Liam Rostock 75), Cammy Mackintosh, Ben Bruce (Scott Miller 84), Craig Munro (Alan Geegan 90), Will Ross
Sub not used: Finn As-Chainey
Referee: Eddie Nichol
Assistant referees: Malcolm Macleod and Colin Macdonald