Clach starlets target Football Times Cup final after two key away wins

Clachnacuddin A team boss Paul Maclennan has stressed that his young side will go into Saturday’s Football Times Cup semi-final at St Duthus with a lot of conviction.

A newcomer this season to the North Caledonian League, the under-20 group is finding its bearings and progressing steadily.

They have three points from three games so far, with a 2-1 defeat in the opening derby against Inverness Athletic followed by a painful scoreline – a 7-1 loss to Loch Ness.

However, last weekend they posted an impressive 5-2 win at Halkirk United for their first league success.

And their best result of the campaign so far came in the Football Times Cup quarter-finals as they won 3-0 at Golspie Sutherland, a side yet to drop a league point so far. now.

To put those results into context, Halkirk finished third last season, just one place and two points ahead of Golspie.

Clach’s Cup semi-final opponents Tain Saints have won three of their first four league matches, losing just 2-1 to Loch Ness.

Maclennan relishes Saints’ tough test

Maclennan expects – and welcomes – a tough challenge from his weekend hosts with a final up for grabs.

He said: “I know (manager) Alan Geggan and (assistant boss) Justin Rogers well at St Duthus. They are good footballers with a well-established team. They have a good mix of experience and youth.

“They started their season very well and would have been disappointed not to get something out of the game against Loch Ness, which I think was a close game.

“St Duthus will bring their best game. The better the teams, the more it brings a little something extra to our young guys.

“We will go there without any fear. It’s a cup semi-final and anything can happen.

Proud to attack the brand of football

Maclennan explained that winning at two tough venues so far shows his young group and learning quickly.

He said: “We are making progress. It was disappointing to lose our first two games, but we put it down to getting used to the league.

“It was the same when we were in the amateur league (from Inverness). Once the boys got used to it, we went chasing after that (and won the summer title).

“The brand of football we play is progressive, attacking and on the front foot. Everything is in its place.

“Winning at Golspie in the cup and at Halkirk in the league shows that there is no fear among the boys. We are fully prepared to engage these teams.

“We had a conversation at the start of the season, explaining that we had no expectations of these guys. We just wanted them to come out and compete. There’s more than that right now and that’s all I can ask for.

Young people have the chance to shine at Clach

And Maclennan believes the players deserve praise for showing bravery in the manner of their performances, which commits them with these two positive results.

He added: “We still have four or five players missing at the moment. In the Golspie game, our oldest player was 19, and for the Halkirk game, our oldest player was 20.

“We had nine players from these two teams who played under-18 football last season. You don’t get a lot of that in North Caley and it shows that we are making progress and giving young people a chance.

“The fact that we play this attacking style of football and win games like this shows that they are, in my eyes, ahead in terms of progress.”

Invergordon and Loch Ness in the final

The other half showdown sees Invergordon host league leaders Loch Ness, with both encounters starting at 1.30pm.

These teams met on league business on September 3 when Loch Ness lost 3-1 at Fortrose.

Golspie is aiming for the top spot in the league

With Loch Ness in cup action, Golspie Sutherland will claim top spot in the North Caledonian League if they score maximum points at home against Orkney when the 12.30 kick-off takes place.

Golspie, who was champion just two years ago, started with five out of five wins and a victory would move them two points ahead of the division.

Inverness Athletic can reach third place if they return from County Nairn with a win, while Thurso and Alness United, who are tied on six points, meet at Sir George’s Park.

Bonar Bridge are the only club yet to score a point and they will be aiming to change that when they face visitors Halkirk, who have won two of their six matches.

Fort William, meanwhile, which has no game this weekend, has named caretaker manager Alan Gray as its permanent boss after guiding the club to two wins from three games following the departure of Chris Baffour. Coach Darren Duncan has been confirmed as Gray’s assistant.

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[Clach starlets aiming for Football Times Cup final after two key away wins]