Anglers will be the underdogs as they take on the champions of Invergordon

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Manager Ewan McElroy said Halkirk United showed “patience and a bit of character” to win comfortably at Bonar Bridge. Photo: James Gunn

Ewan McElroy admits Halkirk United will be seen as underdogs when they take on North Caledonian League champions Invergordon at Morrison Park on Saturday.

However, the Anglers manager has said they would like the challenge after ending a three-game losing streak with a convincing 8-1 win over Bonar Bridge at Migdale last weekend. Sutherland’s wrestlers scored first but were overtaken in the second half and were left with nine men.

Goalkeeper Stuart Wilson received his marching orders just after the hour mark for a second bookable offense and teammate Scott Macdonald was shown a direct red with seven minutes left after appearing to throw a punch towards Conor Trueman of Halkirk.

McElroy said: “The team were eager to get going again on Saturday and obviously desperate to get the points. It was not an ideal scenario to lose 1-0 but we still seemed comfortable in the game and the boys were able to show both patience and a bit of character to come back.

“We traveled without a recognized centre-back. It’s been difficult with the number of injuries we’ve had, particularly at centre-back, but the boys who have been asked to move around have been great and they just went harnessed to the task at hand.

“It wasn’t a moody game. Granted, Bonar had his keeper sent off for a second booking, while the second red was just a blood slick and a case of red haze going down.

“I think the crowd at the side were maybe hoping the game would get a bit more spirited, but the boys – and Conor in particular – were able to show a really mature attitude throughout.

“Ben Sinclair has made his debut for the season and he’s been excellent from start to finish even though he hasn’t played much football in recent months.”

Bonar’s Bruce Urquhart opened the scoring after 21 minutes. They held onto that advantage until eight minutes before the break, when Steven Anderson equalized, and Sinclair quickly led them 2-1 with a kick.

Innes Mackintosh extended the lead a minute into the second half and Kuba Koziol added five minutes later.

A second penalty, again converted by Sinclair, resulted in Wilson being sent off for an early shower in the 63rd minute.

Five minutes later, substitute Hasheem Bremner came on before Anderson got his second on 70 minutes.

A moment of madness saw Bonar reduced to nine men after Macdonald appeared to go after Trueman, with referee Colin MacDonald holding up the red card.

Koziol got his second of the game in the final minute.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s match, McElroy said: “It’s another huge test for the boys. We have a few more shots to assess and Colin Henstridge is unavailable.

“However, we welcome Kyle Henderson and hope Andy Mackay makes a welcome return after missing the last three.

“Obviously Invergordon are the current champions and have just beaten Loch Ness in the Football Times Cup. all looking forward to Saturday.”

Bonar manager Fraser Heath was surprised that only his player was punished after the second sending-off incident.

He said: “The red card was deserved because you can’t do that, but I don’t understand how their boys escaped punishment for their involvement. I mentioned it to the referee at the time and he said he didn’t. I can’t see anything, which is fair because he can’t see everything on his own.

“The first 35 minutes were very good from us. We had the lead and we were still creating chances, but a few difficult minutes completely changed the game for us and instead of going into half-time with a lead, we were 2-1 behind.

“We have to weed out individual mistakes because it’s really costing us. It’s another heavy loss that comes from heads down after mistakes, but I still think it will turn out in our favour.

“We just have to keep digging deep and fighting and it will come.”

Bonar remains in last place, without a point after six games.

Halkirk, eighth, has nine points from his first seven matches.

Kyle Henderson is set to return for Halkirk United's home game against Invergordon on Saturday.  Photo: James Gunn
Kyle Henderson is set to return for Halkirk United’s home game against Invergordon on Saturday. Photo: James Gunn

Invergordon and St Duthus stage a Ross-shire derby in the Football Times Cup final next month after winning their respective semi-finals on Saturday.

Invergordon advanced after beating Loch Ness 3-1 at the Recreation Grounds. Phil MacDonald put Loch Ness ahead but Invergordon fought back with goals from Ben Kelly, Ruaridh Patience and Jordan Knight.

St Duthus needed a penalty shootout to eliminate Clachnacuddin ‘A’ when their draw ended 2-2 after regulation time. Ben Bruce and Ross Tokely scored for St Duthus, with Troy Cooper and Kieran Syrjanen responding for the Inverness side.

In the league, Golspie Sutherland were beaten 6-1 at home by Orkney.

Toby Macleod scored twice with Owen Rendall, Gregor Dowell, James Pickles and Joe Wilson also on target for the Rampant Islanders. Golspie got a consolation goal through Billy Cairns.

County Nairn “A” and Inverness Athletic drew 3-3 at Riverside Park.

Results – North Caledonian League: Bonar Bridge 1, Halkirk United 8; Golspie Sutherland 1, Orkney 6; County Nairn “A” 3, Inverness Athletic 3; Thurso 0, Alness United 5.

Football Times Cup, semi-finals: Invergordon 3, Loch Ness 1; St Duthus 2, Clachnacuddin “A” 2 (St Duthus won 5-4 on penalties).

Matches for Saturday – North Caledonian League: Bonar Bridge v Inverness Athletic; Clachnacuddin “A” v Alness United; Fort William versus County Nairn “A”; Golspie Sutherland versus Loch Ness; Halkirk United v Invergordon (2 p.m.); St Duthus versus Thurso (2 p.m.).


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