Halkirk United ready for testing run of games after going up to third
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A difficult run of games in the coming weeks will be a test of Halkirk United's North Caledonian League title credentials, according to manager Ewan McElroy.
The Anglers continued their impressive start to the campaign with a 6-1 victory over Orkney at Morrison Park on Saturday. That result lifted them to third in the table, a point off top spot, with five wins from their opening six league fixtures.
"I’ve been really pleased with the start the boys have made," McElroy said. "It’s credit to their attitude on match days and their commitment to training.
"However, with the bulk of our games being at home, we need to try and mirror these performances away from home as well. We have a really difficult run of games coming up and it will be an excellent test."
This Saturday they visit Golspie, just two-and-a-half weeks after beating the Sutherland side 2-1 at Morrison Park.
McElroy said: "It’s a testing pitch to play on and we know that they play direct football. We are on good form but have not managed to win away at Golspie since we started here.
"They will be going all out for the three points themselves and I expect a tight game come Saturday."
Halkirk raced into a four-goal lead over Orkney by half-time thanks to Andy Mackay (penalty), James Mackintosh, Jonah Martens and Mark Munro. Grant Aitkenhead got his first goal for the Anglers midway through the second half and Hasheem Bremner added their sixth before Max Linklater grabbed a consolation goal for the islanders.
Mackay also missed a second-half penalty.
McElroy said: "I was hugely impressed with the whole squad. It was a collective performance, everyone played their part.
"I thought we were excellent going forward. We went with a really mobile front three in Jonah Martens, Mark Munro and Stuart Campbell and I thought they really set the tone early on in terms of their work rate and movement both on and off the ball.
"Defensively we looked really solid. It was unfortunate to concede late on but overall it was a really mature performance from the lads.
"We also saw the return of Conor Trueman at centre midfield and there was a debut for Grant Aitkenhead who came off the bench and grabbed a goal in the process. It was great to see those two up and running as both have been sidelined for a period of time due to injury."
Fort William returned to the top of the table after a 3-2 victory over Clachnacuddin "A". Aidan Mackinnon and Ryan Walker (penalty) had put the young Lilywhites two up, only for Fort to turn things around with goals from Juan Cardona, Andrew McLean and Davie Neil.
Loch Ness missed the chance to go top as they were held 3-3 at Alness United.
The champions looked comfortable when Sam Urquhart and Conor Macphee gave them a 2-0 lead. Alness hit back with a Joel Burnett double and a goal from Luke Mackay, before Allan MacPhee struck a stoppage-time equaliser.
St Duthus saw off Bonar Bridge 3-0 at Migdale with goals from Jack Wardrop, Ben Bruce and Jack Kerr.
Invergordon lifted the Football Times Cup for the second year in a row after a 3-2 victory over Inverness Athletic in Golspie.
Jordan Knight, Kyle Maclean and Ryan McFee scored for the Easter Ross side, with Brodie Watson and Dominic Macaulay on target for Athletic.
Results – North Caledonian League: Alness United 3, Loch Ness 3; Bonar Bridge 0, St Duthus 3; Clachnacuddin "A" 2, Fort William 3; Halkirk United 6, Orkney 1; Thurso 3, Golspie 4.
Football Times Cup final: Invergordon 3, Inverness Athletic 2.
Fixtures for Saturday, November 4 – North Caledonian League: Alness United v Fort William; Golspie v Halkirk United (1pm); Invergordon v Clachnacuddin "A"; Inverness Athletic v Thurso (1pm); Loch Ness v Bonar Bridge; St Duthus v Orkney.