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Blow for Halkirk United as top scorer Martens is ruled out of final after red card


By Alan Hendry

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Halkirk United striker Jonah Martens is dismayed at being shown the red card by referee Liam Bremner in Saturday's North Caledonian League defeat to Orkney. Picture: James Gunn
Halkirk United striker Jonah Martens is dismayed at being shown the red card by referee Liam Bremner in Saturday's North Caledonian League defeat to Orkney. Picture: James Gunn

Halkirk United will be without their leading goalscorer Jonah Martens for Saturday's Football Times Cup final against Thurso.

The striker is suspended after being red-carded in the Anglers' 2-1 home defeat to Orkney in the North Caledonian League.

“It’s a real shame for Jonah as it is just not in his character to get sent off,” manager Ewan McElroy said.

“He will be bitterly disappointed, and obviously it is not ideal having your top goalscorer suspended for a final.

“However, it does give another player a chance to prove himself on a big occasion.”

Saturday's result at Morrison Park meant Halkirk relinquished top spot and they are now third in the table behind Loch Ness and Invergordon.

There could be injury concerns over a few players as the Anglers look to regroup for the final.

“We picked up a few niggles and injuries on Saturday,” McElroy said. “Andy Mackay had to come off in the first half and we have three or four other boys that are still a little sore.

“Obviously we have no Jonah for Saturday, and Graham MacNab is still a good few weeks away from being fully fit.

“On a positive note we did welcome John Budge back to training on Tuesday and we are delighted to see him return.”

This will be Halkirk's first final since McElroy was appointed as manager just over two years ago and he says it would be “fantastic” to bring silverware to the club.

“Importantly we are showing we are capable of not only competing against any team but really challenging across the board,” he said. “For me, the progression of the squad and the continued improvement is the main thing.

“It’s brilliant for everyone connected with the club that we get the chance to play in the final on Saturday and I know everyone is looking forward to it.”

The Football Times Cup final kicks off at 2pm at Wick's Harmsworth Park. If the match is level at 90 minutes it will go straight to penalties.

Halkirk United's Hasheem Bremner in an aerial duel with Orkney's Connan Rendall. Picture: James Gunn
Halkirk United's Hasheem Bremner in an aerial duel with Orkney's Connan Rendall. Picture: James Gunn

Halkirk United manager Ewan McElroy admitted he was left scratching his head in bewilderment as his team's North Caledonian League title hopes suffered a setback at the hands of Orkney.

The Anglers led at the break courtesy of Grant MacNab's goal on the half-hour mark, but Jonah Martens' red card changed the complexion of the match.

Orkney hit back with goals from Connon Rendall midway through the second half and Liam Delday with 10 minutes to go to secure their fourth win in a row, three of which have been away.

“It was one of those days in football where you leave scratching your head,” McElroy said. “We knew Orkney were on excellent form and it was always going to be a really difficult match.

“However, we could have quite easily come away with three points with the number of really good chances we created throughout.

“At 1-0 up and while it was 11 versus 11 we looked the more comfortable and dangerous team and without doubt the more likely to go on and score the next goal. Their keeper was on inspired form and pulled off a ridiculous triple save – little wonder he received the man-of-the-match award.

“The red card flipped the game on its head and unfortunately it came relatively early on in the second half so we had to play nearly half the match a man down.

“I felt for the boys on Saturday as even being down to 10 we still had a clear goal not given when we rattled the bar and the ball was around a foot plus over the line – according to the Orkney boys.

“These things happen in football. You just have to draw a line and move on.”

Grant MacNab fires a last-minute free kick through the wall but it was brilliantly saved by the Orkney keeper. Picture: James Gunn
Grant MacNab fires a last-minute free kick through the wall but it was brilliantly saved by the Orkney keeper. Picture: James Gunn

Loch Ness moved to the top of the North Caledonian League after a 2-1 victory over champions Golspie Sutherland.

Jacob Kerr gave Loch Ness the lead after 14 minutes at Fortrose, but Golspie equalised through Liam Bremner just after the hour mark.

Loch Ness restored their advantage in the 69th minute through Darren MacGregor and held on for all three points.

They are one point ahead of the chasing pack with a game in hand on their nearest three rivals.

Inverness Athletic won their first league match of the season in spectacular style as they beat Bonar Bridge 7-0 at Inverness Royal Academy.

Dominic Macaulay hit a hat-trick, with the others coming from Craig Morrison, Kyle Munro and Charlie Thompson (2).

Invergordon are in second place after they hammered St Duthus 6-1 in Tain.

Ken Morrison and Ben Kelly put Invergordon 2-0 in front, with Adam Allan pulling one back for St Duthus before half-time.

Invergordon pulled clear in the second period with Cameron Mackintosh scoring twice before goals from Kyle Maclean and Darran Goller extended their lead.

Saturday’s fixtures will see Alness United take on St Duthus at Dalmore Park in a Ross-shire derby. Loch Ness tackle Bonar Bridge at King George V Park in Fortrose. Nairn County “A” are at home to Golspie, while Orkney play host to Invergordon.


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