Geegan excited for the season ahead

St Duthus team manager Alan Geegan will be the first to admit that pre-season has been something of a slog over the summer.

A combination of players fulfilling summer football commitments, injuries and long-term holiday commitments have made it hard for the Saints boss to put together the preparation he would have desired for the season ahead.

But with the curtain now falling on the amateur season, senior football is ready to kick off, as his side head to Evanton for a tough opener against a young and in-form Clachnacuddin second eleven.

The manager said: “Our pre-season has been very stop-start with summer commitments making it difficult to pull together any sort of routine, but now the season is upon us I expect our players to have the same excitement as I do for the season ahead.

“Saturday’s game away to Clach reserves, in what will be our first proper game of the summer together, will be a tough test for the team. They are a young, fit and enthusiastic team who recently reached the semi-finals of the Highland Amateur Cup.

“That said, I feel we have the experience and quality that if we match the effort then we will pick up the points.”

Last term, Geegan’s charges earned a top four finish in the Macleod & MacCallum North Caledonian League – an all-time high for Saints since their 2016 revival – complimented by a Football Times Cup runners-up spot last November. 

It was the longest season Saints have played since their return to the senior ranks of Scottish football, competing in 29 games across the season.

Geegan believes that a lack of cover ultimately cost them a higher league placing, with injuries to several players resulting in a inconsistent end to the season.  

An early season injury to captain and club top scorer Ben Bruce was the first in a series of injury setbacks which plagued St Duthus throughout the campaign. Saints also lost talismanic midfielder Ross Tokely to Nairn County, and with seven games to go, top scorer Jake Lockett left to join Strathspey Thistle.

This summer, James MacKay became the latest player to move up to the Highland League after impressing at Saints, but the manager has moved quickly to bolster the squad with a string of new faces.

He added: “Numbers wise, we were quite light last year, so I have taken in a handful of new players to add to our options. I’m very happy to have on board Euan Henderson, Gregor Mackay, Alfie Mackay, Kyle Taylor, Jack Wardrop, Scott MacDonald and Paul Loughlin. Each offer something a little bit different and bring a wide range of experience.

“Added to that, we also have Alexander Scott, Kaden Irvine, Harris Mackenzie and Connor Mackenzie stepping up from last year’s under-18 squad. Since I have taken the reigns at Saints, I think we have at least seven players who have made the step up from the under-18 squad, which has been great to see. For me, if you are good enough then you are old enough, and our most recent crop are showing that.”

Saints get the new season under way tomorrow (Saturday) with a 2pm kick off at the alternate venue of Black Rock Park in Evanton.

Pic: Scott Macdonald

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