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Thurso venture into the unknown with cup clash against Lewis and Harris at neutral Ullapool

By Alan Hendry

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Cameron Montgomery takes on Scott Maclean during Thurso's recent home game against Loch Ness. Montgomery scored twice in the Vikings' 4-1 victory over Inverness Athletic last weekend. Picture: James Gunn
Cameron Montgomery takes on Scott Maclean during Thurso's recent home game against Loch Ness. Montgomery scored twice in the Vikings' 4-1 victory over Inverness Athletic last weekend. Picture: James Gunn

Thurso will take a step into the unknown on Saturday as they travel to Wester Ross to meet a Lewis and Harris select in the second round of the Football Times Cup.

The Vikings will have an early start for the 12.30pm kick-off at neutral Ullapool as they look to keep up the momentum after three wins in a row.

Lewis and Harris enter North Caledonian cup competitions but are not part of the league.

The Thurso team bus is booked for 7am and manager Stevie Reid expects the islanders to pose a tough challenge.

“It's a bit of a trek to Ullapool and an earlier start than normal for us,” he said.

“Again it's into the unknown a wee bit. But from previous experience I can forewarn our players that this lot are going to be a good side.

“Lewis and Harris are always well organised and they're always a fit bunch, so it's going to be another really tough game.

“Every game is a cup final and every game has got to be treated exactly the same way – if not, you can fall into a bit of difficulty.”

The Vikings' improved form continued last weekend with a 4-1 win against Inverness Athletic at Ardersier's Cromal Park.

Striker Marc Macgregor had to pull out through illness so James McLean was deployed up front in his absence.

McLean quickly made his mark, putting Thurso ahead after seven minutes, and Saleem Bremner doubled their lead on the half-hour mark.

Cal White pulled one back for Athletic early in the second period, but Cameron Montgomery struck twice, in 63 and 83 minutes, to make sure of the points. Thurso are now fourth in the table.

Reid missed the game because of a youth football commitment but was briefed by two of his coaching staff, Tom McKenna and Jimmy Canavan.

“I think we were pretty much in control," Reid said. "It was just a shame that five minutes into the second half they pulled one back and made it a bit awkward until Cameron Montgomery got our third.

“I don't think it was the most fluent of games. They had little spells and we had probably better spells but I think the boys more than deserved their win."

He added: “I'm more than happy. That's three wins on the bounce now so we can't complain about that.”

Liam Bremner propelled himself to the top of the North Caley scoring charts after he hit five, including an early penalty, in Golspie's runaway 8-1 victory over Orkney at Holm.

Eddie Macgregor, Shaun Urquhart and Sam Mackay were also on target as the champions registered their first league win of the 2021/22 campaign, with Steven Hellewell getting a consolation goal for the islanders.

Loch Ness are back at the top of the table after a 3-2 victory over St Duthus at their new home in Fortrose.

Andrew Miller gave Loch Ness the lead after seven minutes, only for Jake Lockett to equalise six minutes later.

Josh Race restored Loch Ness’s advantage in the 21st minute but Barry Kenny levelled before half-time.

A spot-kick by David Watson around the hour mark secured all three points for Loch Ness, allowing them to leapfrog over Halkirk United into top spot.

Invergordon were held to a 1-1 draw at Bonar Bridge. Ken Morrison's early opener for the Easter Ross side was cancelled out by Jack Mitchell just before the break.

Fixtures for Saturday – Football Times Cup, second round: Alness United v Halkirk United; Lewis and Harris v Thurso (12.30pm, Ullapool); Loch Ness v Inverness Athletic.

North Caledonian League: Golspie Sutherland v Bonar Bridge; Invergordon v St Duthus; Nairn County “A” v Orkney.

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