Game: St Duthus FC v Orkney FC (League)
Date: Saturday, October 29th, 2016
Venue: The Links Playing Fields, Tain
BY THE TIME they arrive at the Links on Saturday, they will have travelled 122 miles by land and sea, in time for the 12.30pm kick off. They are Orkney FC, and they are the only islands team to participate as members of the North Caledonian League.
They were formed in 2012 before joining the league in 2014 and in their first season, they finished runners-up. They collected their first major trophy in March 2015 by winning the Ness Cup, and retained the same trophy the following season.
Now in their third season, they lead the chasing pack not far behind Invergordon. Their form has been a mixed bag thus far though, and despite boasting a 100% home record, they have suffered two defeats from their two games on the mainland, losing to Lewis & Harris in the Football Times Cup and falling to defeat at Invergordon just last weekend in the league. They will no doubt be looking to end that habit in Tain on Saturday.
For the Saints, it's a case of "back to the drawing board" after two consecutive defeats on the road. Reflecting on the month of October as we approach its end, manager Stuart Ross is looking to this weekend's game as a chance to right some wrongs.
I was delighted with our performance against Halkirk when last we played at home, and to win so convincingly gave me much encouragement about the team we have assembled. That said, I am still very disappointed to have lost in the manner that we did in our last two games away from home, and I don’t think it needs to be stressed any further just how important it is that we bounce back on Saturday with a result.
I thought we merited more than defeat in the game against Thurso, but luck didn’t go our way, and we simply didn’t do enough to take anything against Alness in the end. That said, we’ve received plenty praise this season for our keenness to introduce younger players, and especially players from around the Tain area but we need to be mindful that ups and downs when it comes to results are not uncommon in these circumstances. The lads are learning with each game and playing at home on Saturday on their own turf is the perfect place to get back to the drawing board and look for a result.
Unfortunately for the Saints, they will be faced with a number of injury worries and absences through work commitments -- a problem which has plighted their season since it began. New additions Cammy Mackintosh and Sam Beeston should both be available for selection though, along with their most recent signing in full back Adam MacDonald, who has now played three trial games for the club. The return of Lewis Ross and Graham Noble will add some valued experience to the squad, while Garry Macleod, missing last weekend, will also return.
Due to the rescheduling of our North Caledonian Cup quarter final match with Lossiemouth from November 5th to November 26th, the Saints will now go without a game until November 19th, due to the free weekend on November 12th.