Thurso make it four wins in a row after nightmare start in cup clash
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Thurso manager Stevie Reid was delighted with the way his team recovered from a nightmare start to their Football Times Cup second-round tie against Lewis and Harris.
The powerfully built islanders raced into a two-goal lead inside the opening eight minutes at neutral Ullapool on Saturday, but the Vikings soon gained the upper hand and ended up 5-3 winners.
It was the fourth win in a row for Reid's men and they will meet Loch Ness in the semis.
The game had been due to start at 12.30pm but the Vikings were informed on Friday night that kick-off would be even earlier as it was brought forward to noon.
Thurso were caught cold on Ullapool's synthetic pitch as James Morrison and Luke Mackay scored for the Lewis and Harris select.
Marc Macgregor netted two penalties and Cameron Montgomery put Thurso in front on the stroke of half-time.
Innes Mackintosh found the net with a free kick to extend their lead at the start of the second period. Robert Jones reduced the deficit but Conor Macintosh sealed the victory with Thurso's fifth in stoppage time.
Reid said the islanders had played to their strengths.
“I knew they would be big, athletic guys but my God their centre-forward made James McLean look like a little boy," he said. "They had about four or five of these guys, maybe more – massive.
“I was thinking [after the two early goals], ‘What the hell is going to happen here?’ But fair play to the guys, within 15 minutes we were up and at it again and we got two stonewall penalties through really good football.
"They were big guys but they weren’t the most mobile at the back. We played some really good stuff. It was very pleasing after being two-nothing down.”
Reid picked out Luke Manson and top scorer Macgregor for special praise.
“The running Luke was doing was phenomenal. His work ethic was great,” the manager said.
“Marc was excellent as well. He was desperate for a hat-trick – he was trying everything and anything. He hit the crossbar, he hit the post, it was all going on. And he was up against two big, big lads."
Reid is also pleased to have James Murray back in the squad. “James is training very hard to get his fitness up to speed," he said. "It was pleasing to get him on for the last 25 minutes."
The Vikings face island opposition again this Saturday as they welcome Orkney to the Dammies.
Orkney have lost four of their opening five league fixtures but Reid expects a difficult contest.
“They got a right beating off Golspie [8-1] but I believe their keeper got injured in the warm-up, and again they got beaten last week by Nairn [2-1].
“A team that is consistently pretty good doesn’t turn bad overnight.
“Maybe they’re like us and they’ve had a slower start than they would have liked. It just takes one result and they might turn the corner – but hopefully not against us.
“Every game is going to be hard, regardless of who it is. We've got to continue what we’re doing and see what happens.”
Loch Ness booked their place in the last four of the Football Times Cup after Martin Mainland's second-half goal was enough to see off Inverness Athletic at Fortrose.
In the North Caledonian League, Golspie Sutherland hammered Bonar Bridge 9-0 in the Sutherland derby.
Liam Bremner helped himself to four goals with Sam Mackay, Gary Pullen, Alfie Mackay, Shaun Urquhart and Conor Cormack also on target.
Invergordon and St Duthus drew 1-1. Ben Bruce gave Saints the lead, with Cammy Mackintosh levelling for Invergordon.
Nairn County "A" defeated Orkney 2-1 with Grant Hogg netting either side of Liam Delday’s equaliser.
North Caledonian League fixtures for Saturday: Bonar Bridge v Halkirk United; Golspie Sutherland v Nairn County "A"; Inverness Athletic v Invergordon; St Duthus v Alness United; Thurso v Orkney.