Vikings encouraged after leading twice at Invergordon

Jack McKechnie attempts a shot during Thurso’s North Caledonian Cup quarter-final against County Nairn ‘A’ in Naver last month. County won on penalties that day and the Vikings will be out for revenge when the teams meet again in the league this weekend. Photo: James Gunn

Manager Michael Bremner is confident Thurso will soon start scoring and moving away from the bottom of the North Caledonian League on proof of their display at Invergordon on Saturday.

Eventually the Vikings were beaten 4-2 by title-seeking side Easter Ross, but Bremner was encouraged by much of what he saw from his side, who were twice ahead and leading 2-1 at the break.

“It was much better,” Bremner said. “The first half was probably one of the best halves we’ve had since arriving.

“We played the way we want to play. We harassed each other and we created chances – I was really impressed.”

James Murray declared himself available the day before the match and he scored both goals for the Vikings. He opened the scoring after five minutes and restored Thurso’s lead seven minutes from half-time after Ben Kelly equalized in the 15th minute.

Invergordon took the upper hand with two straight goals from Paul Smith and Callum Gow in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and Kelly completed the scoring after 65 minutes.

“The way they came out in the second half, you could tell they had been crazy,” Bremner said. “They came out all guns blazing.

“We just couldn’t cope in the first 10 minutes of the second half. They scored two goals and that was it.

“But the first half was very encouraging, so if we can continue like this in the next games against the teams around us, I think we won’t have any problems.”

Bremner was thrilled with Murray’s contribution.

“He was back to the James of old,” the manager said. “He was really impressive in that first half and took his goals well.”

Thurso now has a basement battle with County Nairn ‘A’ at the Dammies on Saturday. A victory for the Vikings would put them ahead of their opponents on goal difference, with four games in hand.

Bremner’s side will be looking to make amends for their shootout loss to Nairn at Naver last month in the quarter-finals of the North Caledonian Cup.

“Everyone was collectively so annoyed with the way we played against Nairn in the cup game when they were here,” Bremner said. “It was so frustrating.

“If we can do what we did on Saturday, I think we shouldn’t have any problems. But you never know – I don’t know which team Nairn will bring here.

With first-choice goalkeeper Asa Sinclair ruled out for the trip to Invergordon and no other goalkeepers available, co-manager Scott Davidson again took over between the posts for Thurso last weekend.

Bremner himself came in with 10 minutes left. It was the 38-year-old’s first time playing since his appointment in November.

When asked how he felt playing, Bremner replied, “Not too bad. Players might say different, but I felt like I was out of place.

“If we were short again I would manage a little while off the bench, but we will have some boys back this week.”

Results – North Caledonian League: Alness United 1, Loch Ness 2; Bonar Bridge 1, Inverness Athletic 4; Invergordon 4, Thurso 2.

North Caledonian Cup semi-finals: Golspie Sutherland 0, Halkirk United 3; County Nairn “A” 1, St Duthus 2.

Saturday schedule – North Caledonian League: Golspie Sutherland v Alness United (2:00 p.m.); Halkirk United v Loch Ness (2 p.m.); Invergordon Bridge against Bonar (2:00 p.m.); St Duthus v Orkney (12.30pm); Thurso v County Nairn “A” (2pm).

Wednesday March 16: County of Nairn against Alness United (8 p.m.).

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