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Staxigoe manager admits Pentland United have winning knack


By Alan Hendry

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Andy Mackay's shot beats Staxigoe keeper Billy Miller to put Pentland United in front.
Andy Mackay's shot beats Staxigoe keeper Billy Miller to put Pentland United in front.

Staxigoe manager Colin Sinclair admitted that Pentland United's "knack of winning" puts them in a strong position to challenge for honours this summer.

The Stabbies continued their 100 per cent start to the Caithness AFA Division One campaign with a 3-1 victory over Staxigoe at the Upper Bignold Park on Tuesday night.

Andy Mackay opened the scoring for the Dunnet side with a low shot from outside the box towards the end of the first half. Staxigoe got back on level terms early in the second period with a stunning strike by Darren Sheppard that flew in the top corner, but Cameron Montgomery quickly restored Pentland United's advantage and Marc Macgregor completed the scoring from close range.

Sinclair said: “It was close for spells but again the stronger team takes over and wins. They've got more experience, they're cleverer on the ball, they move the ball about.

Andy Mackay takes the acclaim of team-mates after opening the scoring for Pentland United against Staxigoe at the Upper Bignold.
Andy Mackay takes the acclaim of team-mates after opening the scoring for Pentland United against Staxigoe at the Upper Bignold.

“But we battled, and when we got to 1-1 it was game on. But five minutes later we lose the ball in the middle of the park and they punish us.

“It was a good touch by the young boy that was through, but we gave the ball away and you're at your most vulnerable five minutes after scoring.

“They've got the knack of winning, they've got the experience, they've got a strong squad there. I'm not making excuses – we were missing a few boys again.

“But I'll not fault the boys. They battled well and scored a good goal. Darren won't score many more like that.

“They [Pentland United] are strong – I've said it before. They are going to be up there challenging for the league and other cups as well.”

Pentland United co-manager Michael Gray praised Staxigoe keeper Billy Miller for pulling off a number of impressive saves.

"Firstly it was another very welcome three points against a side who always give us a stern test, and tonight was no different," Gray said.

"We have challenged the group to deliver better quality and creativity in the final third as we felt they had been lacking composure. Tonight we got the creativity but found a keeper in excellent form.

A clearing header by Pentland United's Sean Munro in their first division match against Staxigoe on Tuesday night.
A clearing header by Pentland United's Sean Munro in their first division match against Staxigoe on Tuesday night.

"At times in the first half, instead of controlling the possession, we tried to force issues when it wasn’t required. But we took the lead with a fine strike from Andrew Mackay.

"In the second half we created three or four excellent opportunities only to concede to another very fine strike. We could be forgiven for starting to feel it wasn’t going to be our night, but the quick response from Cameron after great legwork by Roddy Innes settled us back down.

"Obviously Marc's goal gave us the additional breathing space.

"I think the defensive unit deserves great credit for giving us the platform to attack, with James McLean and Sean Munro marshalling the back line and willing to go man for man at times to allow the full-backs to go high and support the attacks.

"We move on to the Highland Amateur Cup and Top Joe's in Thurso, which will present different challenges to be overcome."

Staxigoe begin their Highland Amateur Cup campaign with a home tie against Swifts.

The aftermath of a collision between Staxigoe's Grant Aitkenhead and Pentland United's Sean Munro.
The aftermath of a collision between Staxigoe's Grant Aitkenhead and Pentland United's Sean Munro.

Results – Division One: Acks 6, Lybster 1; High Ormlie Hotspur 2, John O'Groats 3; Staxigoe United 1, Pentland United 3; Wick Groats 1, Wick Thistle 0.

Fixtures: Wednesday – Division Two: Castletown v Pentland; Swifts v Top Joe's; Watten v Keiss (all 7pm).

Saturday – Highland Amateur Cup, north section, first round: Acks v Golspie Stafford; Dornoch City v Wick Groats; Helmsdale United v High Ormlie Hotspur; Inver v Lairg Rovers; Lochbroom v John O'Groats; Lochinver v Thurso Pentland; Lybster v Wick Thistle; Staxigoe United v Swifts; Top Joe's v Pentland United; Watten v Keiss (all 3pm).

Staxigoe's Ross Davidson holding off a challenge from Sean Munro of Pentland United.
Staxigoe's Ross Davidson holding off a challenge from Sean Munro of Pentland United.

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