St Duthus v Halkirk United - Preview

Game: St Duthus FC v Halkirk United FC (League)
Date: 
Saturday, October 1st, 2016
Kick-off: 
2.30pm
Venue: 
The Links Playing Fields, Tain

THE CHAMPIONS of the North Caledonian League travel to the Links on Saturday for what will be the Saints' third home game in as many weeks -- and manager Stuart Ross is keen to avoid a repeat of last week's defeat to Golspie Sutherland, when 'The Anglers' come to visit.

I’m obviously disappointed not to keep the momentum going, following on from the good result the week before, against Inverness. I didn’t think there was a lot in the game against Golspie. The early error, of course, hurt us but I thought over the seventy minutes we had two evenly poised teams competing with each other. On another day, we’d have merited at least a point in that kind of situation.

We’ve still got a lot of players in our squad who are adjusting to a new standard of football, who haven’t necessarily played at this level before, so every week is a learning week really. In the grand scheme of things, it’s important to remember we’re only four weeks into the season and still at a very early stage in building this side. There’s many positives to take, though. We finished the game with five or six players under the age of 20, all living within a radius of 15-20 miles. That alone is great for the future of the club. It’s just hard to get a settled team together at the moment, given the amount of absentees we’ve had for one reason or another. We can hopefully look forward to having our full squad available to us soon.

Halkirk United will be a big test for the Tain Saints. Formed 23 years ago, the Caithness side achieved the incredible feat of winning the North Caledonian League championship during their maiden season - crowned champions for the 1993/94 season. It took them sixteen years to win it again, but as of last season, they can claim to having won the title five times - having secured the trophy four times in the last six years - a sure indication of their dominance in the league, during recent times.

Their results so far this season have been a mixed bag, and with four points on the board from three games they have equalled the start of St Duthus in the league. Like the Saints, they are now also out of the Football Times Cup, having lost to Invergordon last Saturday. They are expected to strengthen in great numbers for this Saturday though, welcoming back Graham Williamson, Stuart Sinclair, Mathew Mackay, Scott Bell, Graham Macnab and Bryan McKiddie, while Jack Henry, sent off last weekend, is suspended.

The Saints will continue to battle against absences. Liam Rostock remains sidelined with a hamstring problem while Ken Morrison, despite training on Wednesday, is still likely to miss out. Lewis Ross and Martyn Farquhar miss out due to work commitments, while a handful of others carrying knocks from last week's game will pass late fitness tests.

This weekend's game is sponsored by R Macleod & Son, Tain. Thank you to Gregor Macleod and everyone at R Macleod & Son for their continued support this season.

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