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‘Top-class finish’ sends Swifts through in extra-time thriller


By Alan Hendry

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Kian Mackay skips past a challenge during Thurso Swifts' seven-goal thriller at Watten in the first round of the David Allan Shield.
Kian Mackay skips past a challenge during Thurso Swifts' seven-goal thriller at Watten in the first round of the David Allan Shield.

Manager Stevie Reid was delighted that Thurso Swifts managed to “buck up their ideas” as they produced a dramatic comeback to reach the quarter-finals of the David Allan Shield.

Swifts recovered from being 3-1 down at half-time to run out 4-3 winners at Watten on Tuesday night, with 18-year-old forward Kian Mackay settling the issue with a stunning strike in the first period of extra time.

“He’s got that in his locker,” Reid said. “It was a top-class finish – he’s done a few of them this season.

“When it was 3-1 we were all out of sorts. It was pleasing to see that they did buck up their ideas.

“I said a few words at half-time, but it’s up to themselves ultimately how they take that. I thought we probably deserved to win the game in the end.”

The winner was Mackay’s second goal of the night. John McLean and Ebisine Ambakederemo got the others for the Thurso side, with Kai Cameron and Sam Shearer (2) scoring for Watten.

Swifts’ last-eight opponents are their second division title rivals Keiss. The village outfit are five points clear but Swifts have a game and hand and they will meet again in the penultimate round of league fixtures.

On the prospects of pipping Keiss for automatic promotion, Reid said: “It’s still mathematically there but I’ve just said to them don’t even think about it.

“We’ll just take it one game at a time and we’ll keep cracking on and see what happens.

“If we win our last three games we’ve won the league, basically. But that’s a big ask. We were short of numbers tonight and I don’t know how it is going forward.

“They’re all tough games.”

John McLean of Thurso Swifts tries a shot on goal during the first half at Watten on Tuesday night.
John McLean of Thurso Swifts tries a shot on goal during the first half at Watten on Tuesday night.

Watten manager Scott Bremner said: “I’m disappointed because I thought we controlled the first half. We took our chances and were 3-1 up at half-time.

“But Swifts are a good outfit and credit to Stevie, he has created a very good team.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult 45 but I just thought we gave them too much time on the ball. If you give good players time on the ball, they’re going to do something with it.

“I felt we just never got going in that second half. We know games are not won in the first half and we need to keep on going.

“We are in a bit of a rut right now. We’ve got a good team but there has been a big overhaul here. We brought in nine new players and it’s going to take time to gel.

“Stevie has had three years now to create that team. He’s got a good balance between experienced players and youth players.

“We’ve got good young players in but maybe we need one or two experienced players who have played at a higher level to help us on.”

Bremner is in his first season as a manager and at 24 is among the youngest.

“We’re trying to create something here but it is going to take a bit of time,” he said. “Stevie has had a few years to implement what he wanted and it’s probably going to take me an extra summer, even a third summer, to install what I want to do.

“I do believe the club has the potential to be like Swifts, challenging for play-off spots and titles and going through cups, and we’ve shown that this season by going to the semi-finals of the Eain Mackintosh Cup.”

The Watten squad ahead of their David Allan Shield first-round match at home to Thurso Swifts. Picture: Alan Hendry
The Watten squad ahead of their David Allan Shield first-round match at home to Thurso Swifts. Picture: Alan Hendry
Thurso Swifts lining up before their David Allan Shield first-round tie at Watten. Picture: Alan Hendry
Thurso Swifts lining up before their David Allan Shield first-round tie at Watten. Picture: Alan Hendry

Keiss progressed with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Top Joe’s in Thurso, with goals from Tony Miller, Ryan Calder and Murray Mackay (2).

Three days after their exertions in the Eain Mackintosh Cup final, Staxigoe United were taken to extra time by Halkirk in their first-round tie.

The second division outfit scored first but it was 1-1 at 90 minutes and, as Halkirk began to tire, Staxigoe went on to win 5-1.

Owen Lockhart got Halkirk’s goal, with Chris Green, Bryan Reid, Andy Falconer (2) and Andrew Banks for Staxigoe.

Wick Thistle went through with a 3-1 away win against Acks. Ryan Henderson, Morgan Kennedy and Sam Barclay were on the mark for the Jags, with Kyle Innes netting for the home side.

Ebisine Ambakederemo races into the box before setting up Swifts' first goal.
Ebisine Ambakederemo races into the box before setting up Swifts' first goal.

Results – Eain Mackintosh Cup final: High Ormlie Hotspur 2, Staxigoe United 0 (at Halkirk).

David Allan Shield, round one: Acks 1, Wick Thistle 3; Staxigoe United 5, Halkirk 1 (AET); Top Joe’s 0, Keiss 4; Watten 3, Swifts 4 (AET).

Fixtures – Wednesday, July 10 – David Allan Shield, round one: John O’Groats v Thurso Pentland; Lybster v High Ormlie Hotspur; Pentland United v Castletown (all 7.15pm).

Friday, July 12 – Steven Cup, quarter-finals, first leg: Acks v Top Joe’s; Halkirk v Swifts; Watten v Keiss (all 7.15pm).

Saturday, July 13 – Highland Amateur Cup, quarter-finals: High Ormlie Hotspur v Black Rock Rovers (Ormlie, 3pm); Pentland United v Ness (Culbokie, 12.30pm); Sleat and Strath v Avoch (3pm); Stornoway Athletic v Helmsdale United (Maryburgh, 12.30pm).

Monday, July 15 – Steven Cup, quarter-finals, second leg: Keiss v Watten; Swifts v Halkirk; Top Joe’s v Acks; (all 7.15pm).

Tuesday, July 16 – CAFA Division One: Lybster v Castletown; Wick Groats v John O’Groats (both 7.30pm).

Wednesday, July 17 – CAFA Division One: Pentland United v Staxigoe United; Wick Thistle v High Ormlie Hotspur (both 7.30pm).


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