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Thurso FC Triumph Over Balintore 6 - 0
Report By Brian Mackay

M.Gray, B.Gray, Warner, Moar, A.Sutherland, Bremner, J.MacKenzie, R.Sutherland, Murray, Nicholl, MacDougall. Subs - P.Makhouli, Baker and Adamson
Shearer, Rooney, P.Skinner, James Skinner, McEnan, S.Skinner, John Skinner, McGruer, Dance, Farquhar, Fraser. Subs - G.MacDonald, A.MacDonald and Cowie.

The game kicked off on time in bright sunshine on a calm day, ideal for football. The Dudgeon Park pitch in Brora had taken a lot of water from heavy rainfall but was holding up well.

Balintore started the more aggressive putting in some tasty tackles trying to stamp their authority on the game. The opening challenges went unpunished by referee Beats and this set the tone for what was at times a bad tempered affair. Both sets of teams had good support with the main stand nearly full.

The first real chance of the game resulted in a goal in the eighth minute as Gavin Bremner's free kick from the right was challenged in the air between Shearer and Nicholl. The ball fell kindly to Jamie MacKenzie who gratefully smacked the ball into the net from six yards to give Thurso and early lead.

Free kicks from the right were causing The Balintore defence all kinds of problems and in the ninth minute Gavin Bremner swung the ball in again only for Ross Sutherland to send his header wide.

After eleven minutes Balintore had their first dangerous attack as Tony Farquhar found Rooney down the right; however his right footed cut back was cut out by Shaun Moar.

Two minutes later the pacey Murray broke free on the right and his cut back was sent out for a corner by John Skinner.

After fourteen minutes a long throw by Gray dropped invitingly to Lee MacDougall and Jamie MacKenzie whose shots were well blocked by the Balintore defence.

In the seventeenth minute Thurso had a let off as Balintore had the ball in the net, only for the referee to rightly chop it off for several challenges on Thurso keeper Gray as he bravely attempted to collect the ball at the feet of the Balintore strikers.

This seemed to give Balintore a boost as in the 19th minute, James Skinner broke into the box on the right and shot across Gray who saved well down to his left and then two minutes later Paul Skinner had a shot deflected wide for a corner which was cleared by Allan Sutherland.

In the 22nd minute referee Beats finally got his book out as he yellow carded Paul Skinner for a crude challenge on Thurso's top scorer Nicholl.

Two minutes later Nicholl was involved again as he played the ball to MacKenzie only to be cut out by Shearer in the six yard box.

Jamie MacKenzie wasn't to be denied again in the 25th minute as a brilliant ball from the right by MacDougall was smashed home from six yards to make it two nil to Thurso.

In the 29th minute Fraser's powerful strike was deflected for a corner. The corner was cleared by Alan Sutherland.

As Balintore tried to get back into the game their top scorer Ewan Dance hit a shot from 25 yards which Gray collected comfortably.

In the 36th minute Thurso nearly scored another as Murray set up Nicholl only for Shearer to cut it out at the last second.

The game went into a bit of a lull then in the last 5 minutes of the first half we had two goals and a red card.

In the 43rd minute Gavin Bremner and Jamie MacKenzie produced a brilliant passing move and set up Alan Murray who slipped the ball past Shearer from 8 yards to give Thurso a three goal lead.

Then right on the 45th minute Jamie MacKenzie and McGruer challenged for a high ball only for McGruer to be left lying prone on the ground, only for referee Beatts to produce a straight red card for Jamie MacKenzie. McGruer after treatment continued in the game after that.

Then after all the heated debates had died down Thurso put the final nail in Balintore's coffin with a fourth goal as Murray blasted the ball past Shearer from a Mark Nicholl flick on.

Half-time - Thurso 4 V Balintore 0

15 - Cowie came on for Balintore at half-time

In the first five minutes of the second half Balintore came out looking to get a couple of quick goals to get back in the contest. Fraser shot wide in the 46th minute, then in the 49th a shot was blocked for a corner only to be cleared by Bremner and the best chance fell to Dance in the 51st minute as he met a Cowie cross only for the striker's effort to go straight at Gray.

In the 53rd minute Alan Murray tried to complete his hat-trick as he had a shot blocked and then he had a cross cut out by Shearer three minutes later.

Then in the 57th minute Shearer came out and totally miss-kicked the ball. It fell to Lee MacDougall who played in Nicholl but his shot was blocked by the retreating keeper.

Then in the 60th minute Ewan Dance played in a dangerous ball only for it to be missed by everyone in the box.

In the 61st minute Thurso went further ahead as Lee MacDougall broke on the left, played the ball in to Mark Nicholl who got the goal his hard work deserved scoring his 20th goal of the season with a powerful volley giving Shearer no chance.

Then two minutes later Nicholl almost doubled his tally as he collected a pass from Murray and shot from 18 yards only to be thwarted by Shearer.

With 25 minutes to go Dance was set free through the middle, however Gray anticipated this and beat Dance to the ball and cleared well.

With 18 mins to go Shaun Moar who never put a foot wrong was replaced by Baker. Moar received a large round of applause from the travelling Thurso fans.

Then two minutes later the Thurso crowd once again made their voices heard as Alan Sutherland and top scorer Nicholl came off to be replaced by Adamson and Makhouli.

With ten minutes to go Paul Skinner had a shot well saved by Gray and then Ross Sutherland had a shot blocked from a right wing cross from Adamson in the 83rd minute.

With five minutes to go John Skinner received a yellow card for a foul on Murray. The resultant free kick from Bremner was saved by Shearer.

With two minutes to go Thurso made it six nil as the two subs combined with Adamson crossing from the right to Phil Makhouli who controlled the ball before firing past Shearer from 15 yards. Then a minute later Makhouli had a shot blocked after good combination work from MacDougall and Murray.

Final score - Thurso 6 V Balintore 0

After the game Thurso striker Alan Murray received the man of the match award before the cup Thurso had failed to win in the past was finally in their hands as captain Gavin Bremner collected the Port Services Cup from the match sponsor from Port Services in Invergordon and league president Robbie Adam.

Other scores on the day in The MSIS North Caledonian League saw Alness United stay on top of the table with a 4-1 home win against Dornoch, Golspie stay in second with a 5-2 win away in Halkirk, Bonar Bridge climb to sixth as they beat Bunillidh Thistle 4-3 away in Helmsdale and finally Invergordon also climb the table with a 4-0 win away in Tain.