Match report – Thurso 1 v Halkirk United 1 – NCL – 7.9.13 – report by Iain Grant
Scorers: Thurso – Colin Sinclair (pen 24). Halkirk – Chris Sutherland (87)
DERBY honours were shared on Saturday as the Anglers equalised late on at the Dammies to net a well-deserved reward for their labours.
Thurso rode their luck big time to go into the interval one ahead, courtesy of Colin Sinclair’s penalty. The second period proved an even contest and it looked like the Vikings were going to emerge on for top until Chris Sutherland netted after home keeper Graeme Williamson could not hold a wicked long-ranger from Jack Halliday.
New Thurso manager Alan Sinclair gave debuts to former Anglers pair Colin Davidson and Luke Sawyer and re-introduced striker Jimmy Budge.
The visitors fielded an unchanged starting line-out to the one which blitzed Muir of Ord Rovers the previous week. They retained the spark of that 5-0 victory in the first half when they time and again exposed opponents who had a decidedly flaky and disjointed look to them.
An early Jack Halliday header from Alan Hughes’s free kick which whizzed just over set the tone for a first half in which they had the chances to establish a decisive.
A fully extended backtracking tackle from Graham MacDonald was needed to prevent Halliday being put in the clear from a long-range feed from Sean Munro.
Graham MacNab looked to have given the Anglers a 15th minute lead when he connected with John Budge’s headed knockdown from a corner but Sean Stewart popped up to goal-line to hack the ball clear.
The home side’s sole response was a Jimmy Budge snap-shot from the edge of the box which was pouched by keeper Daniel Budge.
MacNab was a bustling presence up front and his headed flick-on sent Martin Banks racing in on goal, only for Williamson to dash from his box to boot the ball to safety.
United were by far the more creative, with Munro sparking more than his fair share of attacks down the left flank. Halliday and Banks combined to create an opening for Hughes whose weak shot was easily held by Wiilliamson.
Thurso broke the deadlock when Sinclair’s hoisted dead-ball into the penalty box skipped off the slick surface and struck the hand of Stevie Morris. The latter was booked before Sinclair buried the spot-kick low to the right of keeper Budge.
Within a minute, the Halkirk wide man had the potential to make swift amends when the ball broke invitingly for him after the got the better of an aerial duel with Williamson. But with the goal at his mercy, admittedly from an acute angle, he struck the nearside upright.
Soon after, Sinclair was forced into a goal-line clearance to keep out a John Budge header before Halliday skied over with just Williamson to beat.
The second half opened with Thurso defender Shaun Forbes relieved he did not pick up a second caution for a balk on Munro.
Munro surged forward to find himself unmarked on the left side of the penalty box but his finish lacked power and was comfortably gathered by Williamson.
The Vikings improved after the interval with two Sinclair free kicks causing kittens in the visiting defence and Darryn Mackay going close with a diving header from David Cowie’s hanging cross.
A niggly spell saw bookings for John Budge and Ryan Begg , of Halkirk and Marc MacGregor, Cowie and Scott Bell, for Thurso.
With time ticking away, the Anglers’ leveller came out of the blue as Halliday made space for himself before unleashing a swerving, low flier which Williamson was unable to hold. Sub Sutherland was quickest to react as he slid in to beat the keeper to the rebound.
Thurso – Williamson, Forbes (Sawyer 51), Stewart, Sinclair, Davidson, MacDonald (Bell 75), Petrie, Mackay, M. MacGregor, Budge, Cowie. Subs (unused) – Gunn and E. MacDonald.
United: D. Budge, J. Budge, Munro, S. Sinclair, G. Sinclair, Mackay, Hughes, MacNab, Banks (Begg 67), Halliday, Morris (Sutherland 67), Morris. Subs: unused – Davidson, Malcolm and Howden.
Ref – Graham John.