Quarter-final victory comes at a cost for Vikings
THURSO booked their place in the last four of the North Caledonian Cup with a 4-0 quarter-final win against Bunillidh at the Naver all-weather pitch.
However, the victory may have come at a heavy cost as defender Sean Stewart could be out for the rest of the season after suffering what appears to be a serious knee injury.
“It looks a bad one,” Thurso manager Stevie Reid admitted. “It happened early in the game and Sean was taken to A&E at the Wick hospital.
"There is still a lot of swelling but we won't know how bad it actually is until a week or two.”
It is a big blow to Thurso, who sit four points behind leaders Invergordon with three games remaining.
With Invergordon losing 3-2 to Golspie last weekend, Thurso's remaining three games against St Duthus, Invergordon and Golspie Sutherland could have a major bearing on the outcome of the title.
“There are still three or four teams in with a chance of winning the league,” Reid said. “It's going to be tight – but it is still in Invergordon's hands. We will just take it one game at a time.”
Thurso had a chance to open the scoring in the first 10 seconds of their match against Bunillidh but Connor MacIntosh's effort ended up on the wrong side of the post.
The injury to Sean Stewart disrupted the flow of the match before Michael Petrie fired Thurso ahead nine minutes from the break.
Petrie was on target again early in the second half, this time from the penalty spot. But any hopes of a hat-trick were dispelled when Petrie was shown a straight red card for retaliation shortly afterwards.
It was the Thurso skipper's third red card of the campaign.
The 10 men carried on regardless and James Murray came off the bench to make it 3-0 in the 66th minute when he scored from a tight angle.
Fellow substitute Cameron Montgomery completed the scoring in stoppage time with a fine finish.
Thurso are now at home to St Duthus in the semi-finals.
Golspie Sutherland kept their title hopes alive with a 3-2 victory over Invergordon at King George V Park, despite trailing 2-0 at the break.
Darran Goller scored twice for the league leaders, but an Adam Sutherland goal and a double from Liam Bremner turned the match on its head.
Orkney kept in the hunt with a 2-0 win against St Duthus at Grant Park. Goals in either half from Zack Singh and Jamie Clouston did the trick for the islanders.
Orkney will be in the unique position of playing two matches, more or less simultaneously, tomorrow.
Manager Charlie Alway will lead one squad against Bunillidh Thistle in Helmsdale, while other members of his coaching staff will be in charge of a second X1 for a home fixture against Bonar Bridge.
Fixtures for Saturday – North Caledonian League: Bunillidh Thistle v Orkney (12.30pm); Orkney v Bonar Bridge (12.45pm); St Duthus v Golspie Sutherland (2pm). North Caledonian Cup quarter-final: Halkirk United v Invergordon (2pm).