Dingwall Thistle 4 V Thurso 2- report from Iain Grant
A pumped-up second half display by the Vikings failed to salvage the
terminal early damage inflicted upon them in Saturday’s tussle at Jubilee Park.
Shell-shocked after shipping three goals within 18 minutes, Thurso’s porous outfield defence came perilously close to falling further behind.
They were baled out by several last-ditch stops from keeper Asa Sinclair before their Polish striker Lukas Gerazel gave them hope when he marked his first start with a goal close to the interval.
Thurso went on to seize the initiative with a more attacking formation after the break putting their hosts firmly on the back foot.
They passed up several inviting opportunist before Gerazel popped up to net his second with a minute left.
Dingwall proceeded to snatch a fourth and seal this Football Times quarter-final tie, which also counted for North Caley League points.
The Jags took less than a minute to grab the opener with Paul Gair’s pass picking out Gary Urquhart’s unopposed spurt into the box.
Urquhart, who was to prove a menacing presence on the right flank, picked his moment to guide the ball past Sinclair.
Thurso responded with a sparky sequence involving Gerazel, James Murray and Ryan Begg which ended with Lee Elder’s angled strike drifting narrowly past the far post.
Thistle proceeded to sting the Vikings with two goals in as many minutes.
On 16 minutes, Martin MacLean was given licence to roam down the right and Stuart Mackay rose to head MacLean’s deep cross past keeper Sinclair.
Thurso were still absorbing that setback when they conceded again .
A loose pass gave MacLean a clear sight of goal 20 yards out and his measured 20 yarder went in off the inside of the left post.
Thurso’s defence was thereafter all at sea and Dingwall eagerly pressed forward in expectation rather than hope of further reward,
Mackay’s half-volley from Iain Wilson’s deep cross required a goal-line block from keeper Sinclair.
Stevie Pirie then cannoned back off the face of the crossbar on 26 minutes before Sinclair was to the fore again when he kept out Craig Stuart’s attempt from Urquhart’s set-up.
The same pair combined but this time Stuart’s headed effort lacked power and was easily pouched by Sinclair.
Thurso survived and found a way back into the contest on 38 minutes when Murray threaded a pass through for Garazel who outmuscled his marker before planting a firm shot behind Steven Hyslop.
The Jags would have restored their three goal advantage had Mackay managed to find a way past Sinclair after being put in the clear.
Thistle’s brio was soon to dissipate as they faced a new challenge after their opponents changed to a 4-2-4 formation.
Having barely troubled Hyslop before the interval, the keeper was kept on his toes throughout the second half.
He was called into emergency action on 56 minutes when Lewis Harrold’s free-kick was headed on by Murray to Michael Petrie whose hook-shot was parried to safety by the keeper.
Ref John Bickham then turned deaf ears to penalty claims at either end, with Pirie appearing to handle near the penalty spot before Stuart went down in the box after a tangle with Derek Manson.
Manson’s composed debut would have been memorable had he managed to connect from close in to Gerazel’s head-on from another Harrold free-kick on 65 minutes.
The 28-year-old Pole’s dominance in the air unsettled the home defence and he was soon setting up another clear opening for Elder who was unable to find the target with a close-in header.
The pressure was maintained, with Marc MacGregor and Murray going close with headers, before Sinclair had to look lively to turn a Mackay effort behind.
Gerazel’s headed finish from Petrie’s corner came with one minute of normal time and five minutes of injury-time left.
But just as they prepared to mount a final blitz, Thistle promptly effectively killed the contest.
MacLean’s stinging shot from just outside the interval was palmed out by Sinclair and sub Darren Gollar was quickest to react, prodding home from four yards.
There was still time for drama at the other end when Martyn MacAllister’s abortive pass-back led to Hyslop felling Murray as the striker raced into the box.
Hyslop was duly red-carded though officials adjudged the foul was committed outside the box.
The free-kick came to naught though sub Martin Sinclair went close
with the final action when his stooped header flashed wide.
Dingwall Thistle – Hyslop, Wilson, Bain ( MacDonald 62), MacAllister, Pirie, MacBean, Urquhart, Gair, Stuart (Gollar 88), MacLean, Mackay. Subs (unused) – Dorrian, Godwin and Manson.
Thurso – A. Sinclair, Manson, Harrold (Sutherland 82), S. Sinclair, Forbes, G. MacGregor, Petrie, Begg (M. MacGregor 60), Garazel, Murray, Elder (M. Sinclair 86).
Ref – Mr J. Bicknell