Anglers face tough test in Orkney after coming from behind to beat Invergordon
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Halkirk United will be buoyed by their outstanding comeback win against Invergordon as they cross the Pentland Firth this weekend to face in-form Orkney.
The Anglers moved up to second place in the North Caledonian League after recovering from being 2-0 down to beat Invergordon 4-2 at Morrison Park on Saturday.
The islanders are sure to provide another tough test, having won seven of their last eight games. They are fifth in the table, a point behind Halkirk.
"Away to Orkney is always one of the toughest trips you can make and Saturday will be no different," the Anglers' manager Ewan McElroy said.
"Other than Loch Ness they are the in-form team in the league and if you can get anything from them on their own turf you are doing well. However, we know we are capable of challenging teams and the boys have worked hard in training since returning after the break."
McElroy's men looked to be up against it when Invergordon established a two-goal lead inside 18 minutes, courtesy of Ken Morrison and Cameron Mackintosh.
But James Mackintosh pulled one back on 23 minutes and Jonah Martens levelled on the stroke of half-time. Kyle Henderson put the home side in front after 65 and Mackintosh made sure of the points at the end with his second of the afternoon.
"Saturday was always going to be a really difficult game," the manager said. "Invergordon are a top team and coming back from two goals down really highlighted the attitude and determination of the group.
"Despite going down 2-0 relatively early on we had actually created a couple of really good chances and I always thought we would continue to make openings if we remained patient and kept working hard for each other. Our goals came at good times and we managed to get in at half-time level.
"We came flying out of the blocks in the second half and I thought we dominated large parts of possession and were unlucky not to extend our lead on a couple occasions."
North Caledonian clubs discussed the possibility of pausing the campaign last week amid rising Covid-19 numbers. However, it was decided that the league should continue.
"Being honest, I thought we would likely see a short delay in the restart," McElroy said. "Obviously games were impacted last week due to Covid situations and I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens again with the sheer number of folk isolating.
"We were missing a couple of boys ourselves last weekend but hopefully we'll begin to see numbers fall again and we can get things back to normal.
"I think it is something we are just going to have to get on with and if teams are unable to field teams then hopefully they can reschedule towards the end of the season."
Loch Ness moved eight points clear at the top of the table on Saturday after a 5-1 win over Nairn County "A".
All the goals came in the second half. Ryan Ingram and Darren MacGregor scored two each and Conor Macphee was also on target for the leaders, with Dylan Mackenzie replying for Nairn.
Loch Ness manager Shane Carling said: “The performance from start to finish was really good.
“Our last game was December 11, but after not playing for so long and only having one training session, you would never think we’d had a break. It was tremendous – we could have been four or five up before half-time with the chances we missed.
“We had to win, end of, if we wanted to go and win this league. It was as simple as that."
Owen Young struck twice in Orkney's 3-2 home win against Alness United. Chris Simpson got the other goal for the islanders, who had Kyle Drever sent off in the second half. Euan Henderson and Aaron Grant replied for Alness.
North Caledonian League fixtures for Saturday: Bonar Bridge v Nairn County "A"; Golspie Sutherland v Loch Ness; Invergordon v Inverness Athletic; Orkney v Halkirk United; Thurso v St Duthus (1pm).