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Anglers boss McElroy proud despite Orkney loss

By Matt Leslie

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Halkirk United boss Ewan McElroy said he was proud of his battling Anglers despite their 3-1 home loss to Orkney.

Kyle Henderson's strike seven minutes before half-time had given United hope of causing an upset, only for the islanders to hit back in the second half with goals from James Pickles, Chris Hellewell and Chris Simpson.

The Anglers are still fourth in the North Caledonian League table but have played three more games than fifth-placed Golspie Sutherland and five more than unbeaten Orkney.

McElroy had nothing but praise for his defeated team and felt they were unlucky not to come away with a point.

He said: "The boys were brilliant and for around 60 to 65 minutes they were definitely the better team.

"The disappointment in the changing room against a very good Orkney side shows the attitude of the boys at the minute, and while we are frustrated with the scoreline I was proud of the effort and commitment.

"We were the better team in the first half, kept possession well and always looked a threat going forward. We were unlucky on a couple of occasions and had a goal disallowed that looked extremely tight that would have made it 2-0.

"We started the second half in much the same way and if it wasn’t for a good save from their keeper, the excellent Bryan Reid would have doubled our advantage.

"However, as the game progressed Orkney played some good football. They are technically and physically a very good side and probably deserved to draw level on the balance of play.

"From then on it was anyone’s game but unfortunately as we pressed we were caught on the counter and I think the boys were dead on their feet for the last 10 to 15 minutes.

It’s this type of competition we need if the boys and the squad are to improve.

"Orkney are a very strong side and don’t have many weaknesses in their team. I can’t see many teams getting much joy home or away against them.

"That being said, we more than matched them for the bulk of the game and it should give the boys a huge amount of confidence with the remainder of the season.

"I thought our middle three of Chrissy Green, Mark Webster and James Mackintosh played out their skin and worked tirelessly well as a trio.

Jordan Howden in the thick of the action for Halkirk United during their defeat to Orkney. Picture: Niall Manson
Jordan Howden in the thick of the action for Halkirk United during their defeat to Orkney. Picture: Niall Manson

"Similarly, a couple of our newer additions to the squad, Jordan Howden and Aiden Reid, were superb at the back and I think the more the boys play together as a squad the more improvements we will see."

United now turn their attention away from the league as they travel to struggling Bonar Bridge for the first of their Football Times Cup group games.

McElroy added: "It’s difficult to prepare for Bonar as they have struggled to put out their strongest starting XI for most of the season and you never know exactly what to expect. We will prepare as best we can and hopefully get a positive result.

"We are missing a couple boys with work and holiday commitments but no new injury concerns. Ryan Sutherland played his first few minutes on Saturday after missing the last couple games and will be a welcome return to the squad.

"The lads as a whole worked hard at training this week and we will likely have to leave a few boys out for Saturday, but it’s this type of competition we need if the boys and the squad are to improve."

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