Thurso FC Season 2002/03 – Thurso won the treble!!!


(Thurso won the North Caledonian League, Morris Newton and Football Times Cups)


Macleod IFA North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 10th of August 2002

Thurso F.C.........1.........V Golspie Sutherland.................1...........

Thurso F.C Line-up - M.Gray, Reid, Warner, Baker(Sinclair 86), Bremner, Groat,
R.Sutherland, Morris, Mackenzie, Steven(MacGregor 60), Murray, MacDougall.

Goalscorer - Lee MacDougall

At Sir George's Park - 3 p.m kick-off

Other North Caledonian League results

Balintore 5 V Dornoch 2
Bonar Bridge 3 V Alness United 1
Bunillidh Thistle 2 V Invergordon 5
Tain St.Duffus 3 V Halkirk United 2

Macleod IFA North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 17th of August 2002

Invergordon...............5................V Thurso F.C..........1........

Thurso F.C Line-up - Mackay, Steven, Reid, Warner, Makhouli, Bremner, Sutherland
(Coghill 60), MacKenzie, MacGregor (Elder 60), Groat (Cannop 60), MacDougall.

Goalscorer - Terry Cannop

At Invergordon - 3 p.m kick-off

Match report by Iain Grant

Invergordon 5 V Thurso F.C 1 - Report by Iain Grant

Duncan Gray has taken over the reins at Thurso after manager Alistair Budge called it a day following Saturday's game. Mr Budge, who has been with the club since they started up in 1998, is taking a break though he has told the club he will be available to help out with coaching sessions. Colin Chessor has also been brought in to bolster the coaching set-up.

Mr Budge is keen to put to bed suggestions that he is to take on a new role at Wick Academy. "I'm certainly not going to Wick Academy. I've been approached but I've decided to take a step back from my football commitments."

The reshuffle came in the wake of the MSIS North Caledonian League tussle which went steadily downhill after a promising start by the Vikings. The first 20 minutes had none of the hallmarks of a rout with Invergordon hardly in the Thurso half until their opening goal. After four minutes, Martin MacGregor cut out a decent chance for Lee MacDougall who was unable to hit the target from 12 yards, MacGregor was again to the fore after 11 minutes, making good ground down the left before squaring to Jonathon Makhouli whose effort was too straight to trouble 17-year-old keeper Steven Campbell. Two minutes later, the young keeper almost paid the price for taking too long with a clearance from the ground with MacDougall almost nipping in to score. Thurso's encouraging start continued with Makhouli and Gavin Bremner combining to set up MacDougall who shot well over the top.

Invergordon showed the killer touch with their first attack when Gary Watt forged down the inside left channel and John Colquhon seized on his cut-back with a 15 yard curling shot which gave keeper Brian Mackay no chance. The goal dramatically changed the pattern of the game with Watt going close after 28 minutes.

Thurso though still retained a threat and Nigel MacKenzie and Bremner worked a move which ended with Campbell getting down smartly to keep out MacDougall's attempted finish.

Andrew Morrison then missed a snip for the home side before they grabbed a second after 33 minutes when Steven MacDonald netted with a neat flick over Mackay after he had been put in the clear. The minute before half-time saw the odds swing irretrievably Invergordon's way. MacDougall shot inches wide before play swept upfield and the speedy Martyn Cooper raced clear before squaring for Watt who accepted the easy chance. After the break, Invergordon were restricted to a couple of long-range efforts until 64 minutes when Mackay pulled off an astonishing save when he contrived to use his feet to scoop a Steven MacGregor header over the bar.

Thurso were enlivened by a treble substitution and after 66 minutes Thurso almost got one back when Terry Cannop raced on to long though-ball by MacDougall. As he ran on and prepared for the shot, the ball got stuck under the studs of the Thurso Thistle player and the chance was lost.

Thurso's Graham Reid and Tommy Campbell, of Invergordon, were booked following a tangle in 71 minutes. Five minutes later, Invergordon got a fourth when Colquhon broke clear and slotted past Mackay.

Iain Elder set up Cannop after 80 minutes but the striker's chip was just too strong. Invergordon proceeded to grab a fifth through Steven MacGregor with Thurso finally getting one back after 82 minutes when Elder's lay-off was swept home from eight yards by Cannop.

Mr Budge was disappointed how the game ran away from his side. "We started really well and had two really good chances to go ahead. "Once they took the lead, it gave them a big lift and their third just before the interval was a killer blow."

Mr Budge said the big difference between the sides was Invergordon's ruthless streak in front of goal. "They had four chances in the first half and scored three while we had four and scored none."

The Vikings travel to Tain on Saturday when they will be boosted by the availability of their Pentland United contigent though Brian Gray is set to miss out having aggravated a groin injury in Saturday's Highland Cup final. Ross Sutherland is also a major injury doubt. There is better news about Shaun Moar who trained on Tuesday and should be fit to reclaim his place in the middle of defence while Alan Murray should return up front..

Thurso -- Mackay, Steven, Reid, Warner, Makhouli, Bremner, Sutherland (Coghill 60),
MacKenzie, MacGregor (Elder 60), Groat (Cannop 60), MacDougall.

Other North Caledonian League results

Balintore 1 V Golspie Sutherland 2
Dornoch 3 V Tain St.Duffus 0
Halkirk United 0 V Alness United 1

Macleod IFA North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 24th of August 2002

Tain St.Duffus..............1.................V Thurso F.C..........7........

Thurso F.C Line-up -- Gray , Baker, Reid, Moar, MacKenzie, Makhouli (Cassidy 78),
Bremner, Warner, MacDougall (Groat 70), Morris, Murray (Coghill 78).

Goalscorers - Jonny Makhouli (2), Alan Murray, Kevin Morris (2), Gavin Bremner and Luke Cassidy

At Tain - 3.00 p.m kick-off

Match report by Iain Grant


The Vikings hit the goal trail on Saturday to post their biggest ever victory on Easter Ross soil. The rout provided the perfect start for new manager Duncan Gray and helped expunge the memory of the previous week's 5-1 reverse at Invergordon. Thurso's starting 3-5-2 line-up for the MSIS North Caledonian tussle showed five changes with Alan Murray and Kevin Morris deployed as the twin-headed strikeforce.

The visitors endured a frustrating opening as they saw a spate of decent opportunities go abegging before Jonathon Makhouli's opener in 24 minutes. Defender Shaun Moar, back at the heart of the defence, triggered the first attack in three minutes with his surge forward ending with Gavin Bremner flashing a 20 yearder narrowly past. Kevin Morris threatened after three minutes when he shrugged off several defenders and shot only for defender Keith Dingwall to get back to block his netbound effort. Morris, Nigel MacKenzie and Alan Murray all had attempts on goals before Tain manufactured their first raid after 16 minutes when David Grant was robbed by Moar as he shaped to shoot. Four minutes later, a defensive blunder allowed MacKenzie to feed Murray whose chip faded just wide.

Tain keeper David Matheson then had a cracking save from Murray before the pressure finally told and the visitors got the all-important breakthrough. After Matheson was caught in no-man's land as he vainly came out from a cross, Lee MacDougall laid off to Makhouli whose lofted shot cleared both Matheson and a defender on the line to go in off the underside of the bar.

On the half-hour mark, MacKenzie made an early claim to the miss of the season when he was presented with a gift in front of an unguarded goal and succeeded in rolling the ball against a post. The second came after 36 minutes when Bremner tried his luck from 25 yards with Matheson misreading the flight of the ball as it sped below him into the corner of the net.

Morris hit a post before Tain passed up a great opportunity in the final minute of the half when they failed to exploit a three on one allowed Bremner to get back to clear the danger. The home side continued to ride their luck after the turaround with MacKenzie unlucky hot to score with an angled shot and Morris heading straight at Matheson from an inviting MacDougall cross.

Half-time - Tain 0 V Thurso 2

Matheson pulled off an amazing stop to deny Murray after 49 minutes and four minutes later did well to get down to hold a rifling effort from MacDougall. Kenny Fraser passed up a rare opening for Tain just before they lost a third on the hour-mark with MacDougall doing the spadework with Makhouli applying the finish with a diving header. Visiting keeper Michael Gray was a virtual spectator but had to look lively after 65 minutes to backpedal to touch a wicked free-kick from Martin Ross over the bar.

Fifteen minutes from time, an inswinging corner from Bremner was met early by Murray whose deft flick evaded Matheson to make it 4-0.

Fraser then had apurple spell seeing one shot just miss the target and then creating his side's goal after 84 minutes. Fraser made space for himself and saw his raking shot parried by Gray with team-mate Colin Burry on hand to net the rebound.

That sparked a backlash from the Vikings with Morris grabbing a brace in two minutes. The first after 86 minutes was created by Kevin Warner's harrying of a defender with the ball breaking to Morris who converted from 12 yards out. Bremner and Mackenzie then combined to tee up Morris for his second from half the distance.

Thurso's storming finish then saw Matheson save bravely from Bremner after 89 minutes. The seventh goal arrived in injury time with Murray Coghill causing havoc dwn the right before whipping in a cross which fellow substitute Luke Cassidy got in ahead of three defenders to crack home.

New manager Gray was understandably delighted with the result and the performance. He said: "We created a lot of chances and it was a bit concerning early on that we could not put any away. "After turning round only two up, it was satisfying to see the goals go in the second half."

Mr Gray said all the squad had played a part but singled out Jonathon Makhouli for his display in the middle of the park.

With the manager heading for a three week holiday in Canada, Gus Mackay will be in temporary charge for tomorrow's game in Alness. Ross Sutherland is hoping to be fit while WIllie Inrig should also be in the travelling squad. Brian Gray remains out of action with a groin strain.

Thurso -- Gray , Baker, Reid, Moar, MacKenzie, Makhouli (Cassidy 78),
Bremner, Warner, MacDougall (Groat 70), Morris, Murray (Coghill 78).

Other North Caledonian League results

Alness United 2 V Bunillidh Thistle 1
Balintore 4 V Bonar 1
Dornoch 1 V Invergordon 5
Halkirk United 2 V Golspie Sutherland 3

Macleod IFA North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 31st of August 2002

Alness United..................0.............V Thurso F.C..............3........

Thurso F.C Line-up - Gray, Baker, Warner, Reid, MacKenzie, Sutherland
(Inrig 70), Bremner, Makhouli, MacDougall, Morris (Groat 74), Murray (Cassidy 74).

Goalscorers - Alan Murray, Lee MacDougall and Kevin Morris

In Alness - kick-off - 3 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


Thurso notched up their second win in a row on the hoof with this emphatic MSIS North Caledonian League success on a pitch which has proved a less-than-happy hunting ground in the past. Goals from Lee MacDougall and Kevin Morris added to Alan Murray's first half strike to finish off the home side, who ended the game with nine men.

With Shaun Moar injured, Kevin Warner took over the sweeper's role with Ross Sutherland fit to take his place in the engine room at the heart of the three man midfield and Nigel MacKenzie and MacDougall operating on the flanks.

A warm afternoon with a breeze blowing across the park saw the sides play out a cagey opening 20 minutes. Murray was first to hit the target on three minutes though his effort was saved comfortably by young keeper Grant Robertson.

Alness playmaker Gavin Hayden was a lively presence and after eight minutes had crossed for Brendan McGarvey to head narrowly wide. Hayden was to threaten as he darted in from the left and send several efforts which troubled Michael Gray but curled just wide of goal.

After 15 minutes, Jonny Makhouli crafted a superb 50 yard diagonal pass to MacKenzie who squandered the opportunity with an early shot which went yards past. Shrotly afterwards, Makhouli and Murray exchanged passes to set up Morris who failed to trouble Robertson. The opener came on 21 minutes when Murray cut in from the left wing and tricked a couple of defenders before releasing a howitzer of a shot which flew past the keeper into the far corner of the net.

Half-time - Alness United 0 V Thurso F.C 1

Alness came back strongly with Hayden going close with another long-ranger before they almost conceded a second on the half-hour mark. A breakaway saw Murray play in Morris who was running free on goal towards the box when he was cut down by Martin McAllister. The defender was show a red card for his reckless lunge and picked up a second for his volley of dissent. The loss of a man proved too big a handicap for Alness who thereafter never looked likely to get back into contention.

MacDougall proved a major thorn in the side for the home side after the break. He was unlucky not to score three minutes after the break when his right-foot effort whizzed inches over the bar, with Robertson beaten.

He had better luck with an hour played when he and Gavin Bremner started a move which ended with Murray playing him in and MacDougall providing the clinical finish.

Murray was next to try his luck though his shot lacked the angle needed to beat Robertson. David Chapman then went close for Alness after 65 minutes before Morris had a back-post header beaten out by Robertson to Murray who screwed his shot wide.

Morris got the third after 73 minutes when he found himself in the clear and lashed the ball under Robertson into the net. The game fizzled out until a late flare-up saw Hayden mar what had been a five-star performance by getting himself sent off for an angry blast at the referee.

Stand-in managers Gus Mackay and Jocky Begg were happy with both the victory and the display of their side. Mr Mackay believed the youthful Alness side had played better football then Invergordon had when beating the Vikings 5-1 a fortnight before. "The difference was that Invergordon put away just about every chance that came their way," he said.

Mr Mackay was particularly pleased with the performance of Thurso's wide men Mackenzie and MacDougall. On Saturday, Thurso will be without Cassidy for their home tussle with Bunillidh Thistle. The young striker is unavailable though Moar could return if he recovers from a nagging back injury.The match at Sir Georges Park kicks off at 3 p.m.

Thurso v Alness -- Gray, Baker, Warner, Reid, MacKenzie, Sutherland (Inrig 70), Bremner,
Makhouli, MacDougall, Morris (Groat 74), Murray (Cassidy 74).

Other North Caledonian League results

Halkirk United 3 V Bunillidh Thistle 0
Tain St.Duffus 0 V Balintore 0
Bonar Bridge 3 V Invergordon 2


Macleod IFA North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 7th of September 2002

Thurso F.C.............3............V Bunillidh Thistle...............1..........

Goalscorers - Jonny Makhouli (2) and Lee MacDougall

At Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 3 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


The armchair fans missed out on Saturday in a MSIS North Caledonian League match bathed in sunshine which produced no shortage of sparkling play. Thurso were well in charge throughout but led by just a single goal for 70 minutes and there was always the chance that Bunillidh could pull one back.

They eventually did late on but by then Johnnie Makhouli had added to his first half strike and Lee MacDougall had added a third. Thistle pinned their colours to the mast from the outset. They packed their defence and charged their midfield with harrying and hassling and working back to provide cover. Their attacking threat was non-existent in a first half when visiting keeper Adam Bokas was given little respite as the Vikings mounted wave after wave of attacks. Bunillidh started without the talismatic Billy Cowie whose ankle injury reduced his involvement to playing the last quarter-of-an-hour in a striking role.

The home side were guilty of over-elaborating early on and soon found a more direct approach more fruitful. The hard-working Alan Murray created the first shooting opportunity after 12 minutes with his lay-off seeing Bokas gather Makhouli's drive at the second attempt. The same trio was involved two minutes later when Murray's cute through-ball saw the keeper racing out to gather from the inrushing Makhouli.Perseverence from Kevin Morris saw him dispossess a defender to set up Murray for a rising shot which Bokas did well to touch past his left-hand post. The keeper was relieved to get finger-tips to keep out an inswinging corner from Gavin Bremner after 22 minutes.

After 28 minutes, Murray held up play well before releasing Bremner whose teasing far-post cross was headed over by MacDougall. There was then an amazing double let-off for the visitors when MacDougall's cross found Murray alone eight yards out. The striker opted to volley with his rasping effort clattering off the underside of the the cross-bar with Morris cannoning the rebound off the junction of the bar and the right-hand upright.

Bunillidh's luck finally ran out in 32 minutes when Murray created the opening for Makhouli to send a wicked left-footer low into the left corner of the net.

Had Thurso scored again before the interval, it could have opened the floodgates but Bunillidh continued to make life difficult. Makhouli had a fierce effort beaten out by Bokas and the keeper was then extended by a Graham Reid shot, with Murray unable to convert the rebound. The half ended with Murray and Bremner combining and MacDougall centimetres way from connecting with a header, with Bokas beaten.

Thurso 1 V Bunillidh 0

After absorbing almost non-stop pressure, Bunillidh contrived to turn the tables early in the second half when they manufactured acouple of decent chances. Good work out wide by Alan Whitelaw teed up Malcolm Cowie for an angled drive which produced a quality save Michael Gray. Whitelaw was the instigator of the second move which ended with Kevin Macleod sending in a 20 yard shot on target which was rather more comfortably dealt with by the keeper.

It proved a brief flurry with Thurso soon back on the offensive with MacDougall forcing an acrobatic save from Bokas and then Murray going close. Morris was unable to find the target after 66 minutes after an inviting cross from Baker. The roll call of near things was producing in the home camp frustration mixed with the fear that all the good work could be undone by a sudden counter.

This was assuaged after 70 minutes with the arrival of the second goal whch was created and scored by MacDougall. His cross from the right broke to Nigel Mackenzie whose touch inside saw Morris's shot going wide before it was deflected home by MacDougall.

Within four minutes, Thurso were celebrating again when a short corner saw Ross Sutherland's cross break to Makhouli who lashed the ball in from 12 yards.

Bunillidh refused to drop their heads and their perseverance was rewarded after 81 minutes when Fraser Hutchinson netted with a cracking, rising shot.

The final chance of the match fell to MacKenzie who fnished off a bit of trickery down the left with a rasping effort which the over-worked Bokas blocked bravely. A good, all-round display by the Vikings which puts them joint top of the league with Golspie.

Warner, Makhouli and Murray were their star turns for Thurso with the poor strike-rate the only downside to their performance. This Saturday afternoon, they are at home to Balintore.

Baker and MacDougall are both attending a wedding but defender Shaun Moar and striker Luke Cassidy are set to come backinto the reckoning. Saturday's match kicks off at 3 p.m.

Thurso v Bunillidh -- Gray, Baker (Sinclair 73), Warner, Reid, Inrig (Sutherland 73),
Makhouli, MacKenzie, Bremner, Morris (Macleod 78), Murray, MacDougall.

Referee -- Mr G. Bain, Wick.

Other North Caledonian League and cup results

Port Services Cup 1st Round

Invergordon 1 V Alness United 3
Balintore 1 V Bonar Bridge 1 (5-4 on pens to Balintore a.e.t)

North Caledonian League

Dornoch 1 V Golspie Sutherland 3
Halkirk United 6 V Tain St.Duffus 3

Macleod IFA North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 14th of September 2002

Thurso F.C.............1............V Balintore................0.........

Goalscorer - Graeme Reid

At Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 3 p.m

Other North Caledonian League results

Bonar Bridge 2 V Tain 1
Dornoch 1 V Bunillidh Thistle 0
Golspie Sutherland 0 V Alness United 2
Halkirk 6 V Invergordon 0

Port Services Cup Second Round

Saturday 21st of September 2002

Thurso F.C.............2............V Golspie Sutherland..............0...........

Goalscorers - Kevin Morris and Graeme Reid

At Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 3 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


Second half strikes from Kevin Morris and Graeme Reid on Saturday earned Thurso their passage through to the semi-finals of the Port Services Cup. It was anything but plain sailing in a scrappy first half in which the the visitors could count themselves unlucky not to be ahead. But after Morris opened Thurso's account in 54 minutes, they took a stranglehold on the game and ended up winning with something to spare.

Golspie's George Groat, who started the North Caley campaign with the Vikings, was gifted the first half-chance on 25 minutes when a misplaced pass put him free down the right but the striker was unable to get within shooting range. A minute later, David Niven cut the ball back for Ian Innes to fire in a menacing drive which was blocked before it could trouble keeper Michael Gray.

For the majority of the half, Thurso lacked a cutting edge with a lack of movement off the ball, especially in forward positions, blunting their attacking threat. They had to wait until 28 minutes for their first attack of any worth when a rampaging run from Lee MacDougall almost paid dividends. An emergency clearance from a covering defender was required to defuse the danger on the edge of the box as MacDougall shaped to shoot.

The 10 minutes before the break saw Golspie take charge with indifferent defending contributing to two gilt-edged chances. After 35 minutes, Gray could not gather a spiralling corner under pressure from several opponents. His palmed clearance fell to Gavin Dearie on the edge of the box whose low shot through a ruck of players was going in just inside the right-hand post before MacDougall made a goal-line clearance.

A minute from the break, the usually reliable Shaun Moar twice blundered to present first Gary Reid and then Andrew Laing with clear sights of goal. A lack of decisiveness on the part of the Golspie duo meant neither profited as they played each other in without either of them getting in a shot. In between these opportunities, a Morris thunderbolt looked destined to break the deadlock before it was blocked by Robert Benson who needed lengthy treatment before he could resume.

Half-time - Thurso 0 V Golspie 0

Soon after the turnaround ,Thurso showed signs of what was to come with a tantalising far-post cross from Nigel Mackenzie going unrequited before Johnnie Makhouli's snap-shot invited Ian Young's first save of the match.

The opening goal came out of the blue with Morris taking possession 25 yards out and wrongfooting a defender before cracking a firm shot low past Young.

The home side were looking far more comfortable with the passing crisper and the man on the ball being given more options. The second goal came on 65 minutes from a free-kick wide out on the left. Gavin Bremner's whipped in an awkward shot which Young did well to keep out on his near post. The keeper was however powerless to prevent Graeme Reid lashing home the rebound from six yards.

With the tie as good as settled, Golspie indulged in the dark side of their game with Benson's lucky to escape with a booking for his scything tackle on Bremner after 69 minutes.

Two minutes later, Thurso almost added to their tally when Morris's head-flick from a free-kick ended with the ball deflecting off the head off Gary Reid and Young leaping high to his right to prevent the own goal. Makhouli then was very unlucky with a rising shot which drifted narrowly over.

Golspie responded with an angled drive from Innes was shepherded past the post by Gray with the keeper then doing very well to keep out a dangerous effort from Substitute Russell McMorran. In between,Graeme Reid picked up the second booking of the afternoon for a late challenge on keeper Young after 80 minutes.

Manager Duncan Gray, newly returned from a holiday in Canada, admits his side took some time to settle into the match.

"We struggled in the first half when they went close a couple of times, manily through us getting ourselves into trouble. "We were much stronger in the second half and It's always good to come away with a win against a quality side like Golspie."

Thurso are away to Balintore in the semi-final afteer the Easter Ross men racked up an impressive 6-2 win at Tain.

Mr Gray has a few problems for Saturday's home MSIS North Caley match against Dornoch. Makhouli and MacDougall are unavailable while there are injury doubts over Morris (back) and Ross Sutherland (leg). Striker Alan Murray is set to return for the match, which kicks off at 3 p.m.

Thurso v Golspie -- Gray, Moar, Warner, Reid, Mackenzie, Sutherland, Inrig,
Bremner (Baker 72), MacDougall (Forbes 85), Makhouli (Cassidy 85), Morris.

Ref: Mr D. McWilliams, Inverness.

Other North Caledonian League and cup results

Port Services Cup 2nd Round

Tain St.Duthus 2 V Balintore 6
Halkirk United 5 V Dornoch 4
Alness United 5 V Bunillidh Thistle 2

North Caledonian League

Bonar Bridge 1 V Invergordon 7

Macleod IFA North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 28th of September 2002

Thurso F.C............5.............V Dornoch................2.........

Goalscorers - Kevin Morris (3) , Alan Murray (1) and Lee MacDougall (1)

At Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 3 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


Thurso's fifth MSIS North Caley win on the bounce was achieved largely on the strength of a glorious first half display when they swept all before them. Five goals was fair reward for their craft and endeavour which had their opponents in danger of sustaining the kind of drubbing which has been all too familiar over the past couple of seasons.

But this Dornoch side is made of sterner stuff and it is to their credit that they battled back to score two without conceding any to give a more respectable look to the final score. The visitors were first to show with Robbie Gillanders breaking through but being closed down at edge of box with two minutes gone.

Thurso then gave a hint of what was to come when Gavin Bremner's corner was met on volley by Graeme Reid with his shot well struck but directed straight at keeper Mackenzie. On four minutes, Thurso were ahead when Willie Inrig freed Nigel Mackenzie down the right wing and his low cross beat was summarily dispatched by Kevin Morris from six yards.

Dornoch's Scott Mackain is emerging as one of the league's top frontmen and he almost equalised when he created space for himself only to shoot weakly from the edge of the box. Gillanders was well off target with a speculative long-range immediately before Bremner threaded a superb ball through to Macdougall whose powerful shot eluded MacKenzie before crashing off the underside of the bar and rebounded to safety.

Dornoch were under the cosh for most of the first half but they continued to cause problems on the break . In 18 minutes, a free-kick caused panic in the Vikings' defence with the ball breaking to David Horseburgh who was unable to get his 12 yard shot on target.

Thurso were well on top with Morris miscuing a header and Bremner just missing out with a volley before the second arrived on 25 minutes. A throw-in to Shaun Moar resulted in Willie Inrig feeding Morris who ran through to score from 12 yards.

MacKain continued to be a lively presence and in the space of three minutes he forced Michael Gray to make two fine stops.

Normal service resumed on 33 minutes when Alan Murray scored a belter of a goal when his right-foot shot from just outside the box beat MacKenzie all ends-up.

Two minutes later, it was 4-0 when Macdougall met a Nigel Mackenzie cross from the right on the volley with the keeper again taken out of the equation.

Morris was in on goal after 40 minutes but was denied his hat-trick by the outstretched leg of keeper MacKenzie. It kept the striker at bay for less than a minute when he profited from good lead-up work from Nigel MacKenzie. After he created space for himself for a strike which the keeper parried, Morris was on hand to bury the rebound.
Half-time - Thurso 5 V Dornoch 0

Dornoch refused to buckle and five minutes after the resumption MacKain drilled a glorious shot into left hand corner for a well-deserved goal.

Thurso responded with a dangerous foray down the right from Nigel Mackenzie ending with his cross narrowly failing to find a finishing touch from Macdougall. Murray then fired narrowly over while Reid was unlucky not to find the net with a header from a corner.

Dornoch got a second back after 58 minutes when that man MacKain's dart into box was halted when he was upended by Martin Baker. The striker took the spot-kick himself and duly tucked it away.

Thurso were denied a penalty after 61 minutes when Inrig appeared to be impeded in the box but referee Willie Sinclair waved play on. Keeper MacKenzie then did well to deny his name-sake after a defensive mix-up and then made a great block from a MacDougall header. Substitute Luke Cassidy was next to threaten only to be thwarted as keeper MacKenzie ran out to clear. In the closing 10 minutes, MacKenzie, Murray and Cassidy all passed up half-chances as the Dornoch goal came under sustained pressure.

Vikings manager Duncan Gray was delighted with the first half display though frustrated they could not reproduce the same form after the rbeak. "Half-time did us no favours," he said. "We were ripping them apart in the first half but unfortunately we could not keep up the momentum. "There's no doubt we'll have to give our best for the full 90 minutes against Balintore on Saturday."

Thurso take a break from league action when they travel to Balintore looking to book a place in the final of the Port Services Cup. Midfielder Johnnie Makhouli returns while Michael Gray, Murray and Sutherland are expected to shake off minor knocks.

Thurso v Dornoch: Gray, Moar, Warner, Reid, Baker, Bremner (Steven 80),
MacDougall, Mackenzie (Forbes 82), Inrig, Murray, Morris (Cassidy 45)

Ref: Mr W. Sinclair.

Other North Caledonian League results

Balintore 1 V Halkirk United 0
Bunillidh Thistle 2 V Bonar Bridge 2
Golspie Sutherland 9 V Tain St.Duthus 2
Invergordon 1 V Alness United 2


Port Services Cup Semi-Final

Saturday 5th of October 2002

Balintore............1..............V Thurso F.C...............0..........

At Seaboard Park, Balintore - kick-off - 2.30 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


The outcome of Saturday's semi-finals in the Port Services Cup buried the chances of the first all-Caithness North Caley final. With Halkirk going down 2-0 at Alness and Balintore avenging their recent last-gasp league defeat in Thurso, the Ross-shire duo will battle it out to claim the first silverware of the season.

The match in Balintore, which was spoiled by a strong wind, looked at an early stage destined to be settled by the first goal. A tight affair with chances at a premium was decided by a 59th minute header from defender Darren Mackay. The Vikings were unable to capitalise on the sending off of David Calderwood a minute after the goal.

Late pressure looked likely to fashion the equaliser as Balintore clung on to their narrow advantage. A 83rd minute cross from substitute Ross Sutherland was met by a solid header across goal by Kevin Morris into the path of Graeme Reid. The lead-up had the hallmarks of the only goal in the league game but this time the defender's right-foot effort spun agonisingly past the post. What was the visitors' best chance of the game was followed three minutes from time with their final push when Sutherland just failed to connect with a Gavin Bremner free-kick from the right.

Kicking off with the wind on their backs, Thurso were quickly on the attack. After five minutes, a Lee MacDougall corner was laid off by Morris to Shaun Moar whose firm shot was blocked. Nigel Mackenzie was then unable to exploit a half-clearance from keeper Edward Shearer when he palmed away a kevin Warner cross. After 10 minutes, Morris shot wide after being set up by Alan Murray before Balintore gave the visitors a scare when Gordon Lowe went desparately close with a header.

Both teams struggled to seriously trouble the respective keepers with Mackenzie skying a shot over the bar and Mackay showing his danger in the air by heading a corner narrowly wide. After Morris's 30th minute booking for dissent, Moar earned brownie points in defusing an attack when Balintore broke in numbers.

Morris and Warner both sent efforts over the top before Willie Inrig forced the first real ave of the game two minutes from the interval.

Half-time - Balintore 0 V Thurso 0

Shearer was the first keeper in action after the turnaround when he had to look smart to touch Reid's 15 yard shot over the bar and then keep out a raking drive from Bremner.

Michael Gray was then tested by a Paul Skinner shot before the home side got the crucial breakthrough. Thurso lived to regret committing two players to defend a free-kick wide out on the right and leave the posts unguarded when Mackay towered above everyone to plant a firm header wide of Gray.

Calderwood was red-carded on the hour-mark when an assistant referee spotted an off-the-ball incident in which the Balintore man swung a boot at Reid.

Thurso almost got on terms in 61 minutes when MacDougall sent Murray racing in on goal only for the striker to be forced wide by a clever piece of defending by John Skinner. A weak shot from Inrig and a strike by Warner deflected away from goal proved little threat but substitute Makhouli was unlucky on 76 minutes when Bremner played him on only for Shearer to make a brace smother save.

A minute later, Keith Dinwoodie almost gave Balintore a two goal cushion with Gray producing the save of the day when he dived to his right to turn away the midfielder's 25 yard screamer.

Thurso manager Duncan Gray had no complaints about the result but was disappointed by how his side lost their way after a bright start through getting sucked into a war of attrition with very physical opponents. Thurso return to league action on Saturday with what is sure to be a tough derby tussle at Halkirk.

Murray is on holiday while Reid is at a wedding and Sutherland and Makhouli are injury doubts.

Thurso v Balintore: Gray, Moar, Warner (Makhouli 70), Reid, MacDougall (Cassidy 80),
Bremner Baker, Mackenzie, Inrig (Sutherland 73), Murray, Morris.

Other NCL and Cup fixtures played on the day

Port Services Cup Semi-Finals

Alness United 2 V Halkirk United 0
Balintore 1 V Thurso 0

North Caledonian League

Bonar Bridge 0 V Golspie Sutherland 4
Bunillidh Thistle 1 V Dornoch 2
Tain St.Duthus 1 V Invergordon 3

North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 12th of October 2002

Halkirk United..............2............V Thurso F.C..............2...........

Goalscorers - Lee MacDougall and Nigel MacKenzie

At Recreation Park, Halkirk - kick-off - 12.30 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


Two goals at the death ensured the honours were shared in Saturday's first Caithness derby of the MSIS North Caledonian season. The village side perhaps emerged the more relieved to have got some reward from a contest in which they played second fiddle for long spells.

Halkirk failed to make the most an early breakthrough scored by Colin Munro and were fortunate to be still ahead before Lee MacDougall struck midway through the second half. A grandstand finale saw the Vikings score what looked like a last minute winner from Nigel Mackenzie until they dropped their guard to allow substitute Gordie Steven to grab a last-gasp equaliser.

The teams conspired to produce an entertaining 20 minutes when the standard of play was well above what could be expected on a miserable day when a swirling wind was allied to frequent heavy downpours. Within the first minute, slackness in the Halkirk defence presented Kevin Morris with the chance to try a long-range snap-shot which did not miss the target by much.

Halkirk drew ahead on two minutes when good play down the right flank saw Martin Bain's well-flighted cross land perfectly for Russell Beattie. Thurso keeper Michael Gray got to the striker's precise downward header but was unable to prevent Colin Munro pouncing to net the rebound from just outside the line of the far post.

The goalmouth thrills continued unabated with Morris inches away from applying the killer touch to Gavin Bremner's third minute wicked driven free-kick from the right. Gray was then relieved to see Derek Munro's low shot flash past his left post. Thurso looked certain to square things up after 12 minutes when Morris rose to meet MacDougall's cross only to head inches wide.

Thurso continued to look the more dangerous with United defender John Martin relieved to escape unpunished when Willie Inrig's surge into the box ended with a driven cross which hit the defender on an arm. There was an undoubted derby feel to the match with referee Graham Bain generous in not taking action against several unsavoury tackles, notably Keith Blair on Morris and Alan Sutherland on Beattie.

After the lively start, the game fell into a quiet spell in the second quarter though Halkirk keeper Mark Swanson disntiguished himself when he kept out Kevin Warner's close-range header from a Bremner centre. Both sides had half-chances to score in the dying embers of the half. Blair and Colin Munro combined well to unsettle the visiting defence with Gray at one point in the attack stranded in front of the ball on the edge of his box. The keeper did well to get back to pounce on the ball to deny Derek Munro who was poised to score. Another Bremner free-kick then caused panic-stations when Swanson lost a high ball at his far post but managed to get back to clear the danger under strong pressure from Morris.

Half-time - Halkirk 1 V Thurso 0

Halkirk were under the cosh for long periods after the break when Thurso were to rue a clutch of missed opportunities. Early in the half, Luke Cassidy and Morris both blasted shots over the bar after MacDougall had carved out decent chances for the striking duo. In between, Derek Munro was booked for a foul on Martin Baker.

This triggered a bout of hostilities which saw Halkirk's Paul MacCallum and Baker booked during separate incidents and Warner hobbling off after being the victim of an ugly challenge.

After 67 minutes, Morris and Cassidy set up MacDougall who wasted the gilt-edged opening with a wild shot.

MacDougall atoned soon after when he equalised from a corner with a shot which evaded a clutch of bodies in the six yard box.

Halkirk threatened fitfully on the break with one such raid on 72 minutes seeing Beattie's effort beat Gray only for Shaun Moar to execute a goal-line clearance. Mackenzie then shot wide from good position before Bremner's stinging effort on 80 minutes was palmed over the bar by Swanson. Sustained pressure saw Morris shoot over before MacKenzie's 88th less-than-convincing shot from the edge of the boc eluded Swasnon's grasp and rolled over the line. Beattie was cautioned for dissent before the final action saw Halkirk mount one last despearte attack after MacDougall lost possession. Halkirk substitute Mark Munro sparked off the attack from deep in his own half with his lung-bursting run ending with him picking out Steven with a fine pass. With the Thurso defence posted missing, Steven ran through and slotted the ball past Gray to win a share of the spoils for his side.
Viking manager Duncan Gray was happy with the general display of his side, though frustrated with their poor strike rate. "We had a lot of the play, especially in the second half when we put them under a fair bit of pressure. "It was frustrating that we went so long without scoring and it looked like it was going to be one of those days. "Having gone ahead, it was a bit of a sickener to lose two points by the way we conceded the equaliser right at the end."

Graeme Reid is available for Saturday's home league match versus Bonar Bridge (k.o: 3 p.m.) though Warner joins Johnny Makhouli on the injury list, with both in the doubtful category.

Halkirk: Swanson, Gunn, Blair, Bain, Martin, C. Munro, Henderson, MacCallum,
Dunnett (M. Munro 83), D. Munro, Beattie. Sub (unused) -- Elder.

Thurso: Gray, Warner (Sutherland 51), Baker, Moar, Sutherland, Bremner, Mackenzie,
Inrig, Cassidy (Steven 83), Morris, MacDougall. Sub (unused) -- Forbes.

Ref: Mr G. Bain, Wick.

Other NCL scores

Alness United 5 V Tain St.Duthus 2
Bonar Bridge 2 V Dornoch 7
Bunillidh Thistle V Golspie Sutherland - (Off)
Invergordon 1 V Balintore 1

North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 19th of October 2002

Thurso F.C............5.............V Bonar Bridge............1.........

Goalscorers - Kevin Morris (2), Nigel MacKenzie (2) and Mark Nicholl (1)

At Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 3.00 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


This MSIS North Caledonian tussle defied logic as the visitors somehow survived an early bombardment to harbour hopes of pulling off a shock before diappearing from the radar in the latter stages. Bonar somehow managed to ship just two goals in an opening quarter-of-an-hour when they should have been holed well below the water-line. That they did not is down to a combination of dogged defending and feckless finishing. Two nil down, the visitors contrived to get one back from the penalty spot and soon afterwards had the temerity to almost conjure an equaliser. Thurso paid for dropping the work-rate as Bonar enjoyed decent spells before a disastrous last 10 minutes when they leaked three goals.

A bitterly cold day at Sir Georges Park saw the visitors arrive with none of their 14 squad being listed with a Bonar address. Inverness and Easter Ross featured on the team-list of the side who were still licking their wounds after a 7-2 hammering by Dornoch the previous week. They no doubt feared another drubbing could be on the cards when strong Thurso pressure carved out the opener after just three minutes. Willie Inrig was the instigator with his whipped cross from the left producing a simple six yard finish from Nigel Mackenzie.

Two minutes later, Lee MacDougall provided further menace with Bonar defender Robert Macleod doing exceptionally well to clear the danger. It was turning into something of a feeding frenzy with Mackenzie dancing his way into the box and firing just wide after seven minutes. Kevin Morris was then denied twice in quick succession, his first netbound shot from a Mackenzie cross cannoning off a defender to safety and a rocket volley missing the target by inches.

Morris had better luck after 15 minutes when Luke Cassidy latched on to a slack pass out of defence. Macleod managed to get a block on Cassidy's run on goal but the ball fell to Morris who rifled a left-foot shot into the net.

The one-way traffic continued with Mackenzie missing a decent effort and Morris's header producing an excellent stop by keeper Stephen Munro. Thurso's comfort zone was rudely breached after 23 minutes when the lively Ewan Dance made the most of what looked a decidedly unpromising position. Chasing a long ball down the right flank with no support, he showed good pace and control to wriggle inside of Kevin Warner whose attempted recovery saw him upend Dance in the box. Warner was booked and then watched as Dance calmly slotted the ball to the left-hand corner.

Five minutes later, Dance passed up an excellent chance to equalise when he rounded Shaun Moar only to weakly lob into the grateful arms of keeper Michael Gray.

An error-strewn Thurso performance for the remainder of the half ensured they earned a tongue-lashing from manager Duncan Gray at the interval. It could have been worse had Michael Gray not shown good reactions to keep out a long-ranger from Andy Murray in injury time.

Thurso 2 V Bonar Bridge 1

A low-key start to the second period saw Cassidy's shot-on-the-turn after 48 minutes being beaten away by Macleod. Gavin Bremner just missed the target with a header from Inrig's looping cross shortly keeper before Munro was forced to retire hurt after 65 minutes. Thurso struggled to capitalise from the resultant reshuffle with Graeme Reid heading over and Morris then missing a decent chanceafter being set up by substitute Mark Nichol.

Murray was booked for dissent to add to the earlier yellow carding of Stephen Macleod. Nichol was next through after 76 minutes but he shot wide of stand-in keeper Robert Ross. Ross did well soon afterwards to beat out with his feet to a shot from Inrig and then Shaun Forbes was unable to find the target with a close-in shot with his first touch after entering the fray.

The third goal finally arrived after 80 minutes when Morris rose to head home Bremner's cross.

Gray was in action again to turn away a stinging shot from Macleod before Nichol made it 4-1 after 84 minutes. Morris did the spadework with Nichol looking to have lost the chance only to get to Ross's parry and net from an acute angle.

Mackenzie looked several yards offside when he met Bremner's through-ball to run through and score four minutes from time.

Thurso face a tough task tomorrow when they travel to play Golspie in a top-of-the-table encounter. Golspie are on a hot streak and go into the game on the back of a 6-1 rout of holders Invergordon on Saturday.

Midfielder Johnnie Makhouli is set to return for the Vikings.

Thurso: Gray, Warner, Reid, Moar, Sutherland, Bremner, Mackenzie, Inrig,
Cassidy (Nichol 68), Morris, MacDougall (Forbes). Sub (unused) -- Baker.

Ref: Mr G. Bain, Wick.

Other NCL Fixtures played

Alness United 3 V Balintore 1
Dornoch 3 V Halkirk United 2
Golspie Sutherland 6 V Invergordon 1
Tain St.Duthus 2 V Bunillidh Thistle 2

North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 26th of October 2002

Golspie Sutherland............0..........V Thurso F.C.............0............

At Golspie - kick-off - 3.00 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


The home camp were the happier to settle for a share of the spoils in Saturday's top-of-the-table MSIS North Caledonian clash. Thurso enjoyed the bulk of the goal-scoring opportunities in an entertaining tussle played on a surprisingly fair day. Alness were perhaps best pleased with the top two dropping two points apiece to leave the Easter Ross outfit handily placed for a strong title push.

The early action saw Gavin Bremner's corner cause confusion in the Golspie box with keeper Ian Young ending up making a hurried clearance with his feet. After eight minutes. Nigel Mackenzie did well to win ball on left with his cross resulting in half-hearted claims for handball in box. A minute later, the first decent move of the match saw Willie Inrig and Kevin Morris combine to set up Alan Murray who side-footed just wide from 18 yards.

Golspie responded with efforts from Gary Reid and Jamie MacLeod which visiting keeper Michael Gray watched clear his bar.

A Thurso break out of defence after 15 minutes ended with Murray's agile shot on the turn producing a good stop from Young.

A minute later Alan Sutherland's header from a Bremner corner was cleared off the line by Darren Pullen.

Golspie were next to threaten when former Thurso player Geordie Groat's knock-on to Macleod left Graeme Reid having to make up a lot of ground to make the covering tackle at the edge of box. It was the start of a useful spell for Golspie with Groat failing to find the target with a free header at the back post and Pullen then putting Groat clear only for the latter to be the victim of a marginal offside call.

Thurso hit back in 26 minutes when Morris tee-ed up Bremner to shoot just over with Bremner then fully extending Young to keep out his well-struck free-kick. Gray saw little emergency action though in 31 minutes he did well to hold on at his back post to a wicked free-kick from Pullen.

Ten minutes from half-time, Golspie's Gary Reid shot just over with a raking effort from the edge of the box and then team-mate Ian Innes wasted a half-chance in the box. The final action of the half saw Murray exploit a break down the right with a deep cross which eluded a clutch of players.

Half-time - Golspie 0 V Thurso 0

Morris had the first opening of the second half when he headed an Alan Sutherland cross straight at Young. Bremner made space for himself after 52 minutes but could not conjure up the shot to trouble Young. Murray was a lively presence and on the hour-mark manufactured another cross which Gavin Dearie did well to cut out with Morris and Mackenzie bearing in. Five minutes later, Murray was put clear on goal with Young again earning his corn by forcing the striker wide to defuse the danger.

Macleod turned well in the Thurso box in 72 minutes but he was was unable to get in a shot. Morris then threatened twice in quick succession, with his first shot lacking power and his second well hit and Young very relieved to see it blocked by a covering defender After 80 minutes, Murray fopraged down the right and centred for Nigel MacKenzie to crack in a left-foot shot which was kept out by an outstretched leg of Young.

Thurso looked the likelier in the closing stages with Murray having an effort on goal saved after 85 minutes and two minutes later Morris was thwarted by a desperate headed clearance as he looked set to net Mackenzie's cross. It was however Goslpie who almost stole it at the death when a scramble from a corner saw Gray dive bravely to smother the ball amid a forest of legs.

Afterwards, Vikings manager Duncan Gray was satisfied with the display and felt his side could have sneaked the win. He said: "We probably would have accepted a point before the game but on the run of play, I think we could have come away with a victory. "We did not not give them many looks at goal and we were looking could going forward and their keeper had three very good saves."

On Saturday afternoon, the Vikings bid to keep top spot when they entertain Tain at Sir Georges Park (kick-off: 2.30 p.m.)

Midfielder Jonnie Makhouli was fit to train this week and comes back into the squad, as does Sean Forbes while Kevin Warner is expected to shake off a knock.

Thurso v Golspie: Gray, Moar, A. Sutherland, Reid, Warner, Bremner, R Sutherland,
Mackenzie, Inrig, Murray, Morris. Subs (unused) : Cassidy, Nichol, Begg

Other Fixtures Played

Alness United 2 V Balintore 0 - Port Services Cup Final In Tain

North Caledonian League

Bonar Bridge 4 V Halkirk United 5
Invergordon 0 V Bunillidh Thistle 0


North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 2nd of November 2002

Thurso F.C..............7...........V Tain St.Duthus............0........

Thurso F.C Line-up - Gray, A.Sutherland, Warner, Reid, Bremner(Forbes),
R.Sutherland, Inrig, J.Makhouli, MacKenzie, Nicholl(Cassidy), Murray.

Goalscorers - Alan Murray (4), Mark Nichol, Nigel MacKenzie and an own goal

At Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 12.30 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


The Vikings were not extended in chalking up this victory which keeps their top spot in the MSIS North Caledonian League. The young visitors did not lack in either skill or energy but they were no match for the experienced home outfit. Even without regulars Shaun Moar, Lee MacDougall and Kevin Morris, Thurso were in control from the kick-off and had romped to a 5-0 lead at the interval. Alan Murray grabbed a double in each half with others goals falling to Mark Nichol, Nigel Mackenzie and an own goal.

The home men struggled early on to master a strong, blustery wind which played tricks with long passes. Within two minutes, Tain rode their luck when a neat first-time pass from Nichol sent Mackenzie scurrying down the left. His driven cross ended with Willie Inrig rifling in a low shot from the edge of the box which flew foot over Barry Nimmons' bar.

After 15 minutes, a well-flighted Gavin Bremner cross was met by Ross Sutherland who was unable to find the right angle with his head which drifted wide. The pressure continued unabated with Sutherland fizzing a 35 yarder just wide and Nimmons fdoing well to collect a stinging shot from Nichol.

In between, Tain contrived to pose problems at the other end with a teasing diagonal cross from Colin Burry forcing Michael Gray to parry the ball behind for a corner.

The opening goal after 22 minutes was carved out by Jonnie Makhouli, making his return after amonth break though injury. Makhouli's pass to Murray saw the striker unleash a shot which Nimmons blocked with Nichol on hand to put away the rebound.

Two minutes later, Nichol appeared to be checked by Nimmons as he sought to follow up his own shot which the keeper had beaten away.

The second goal arrived in 26 minutes when Murray swept home from close ranger after being set up by Nichol. Murray and Ross Sutherland both had good efforts on goal before Murray grabbed his second on 33 minutes after MacKenzie had created the opening.

Tain's strikeforce was operating on thin rations but the visitors should have pulled a goal back on 37 minutes when Steven Alexander's incisive run and cross deserved better than Mathew Rooney's miscued header from close in.

Three minutes later, it was 4-0 with Murray's neat through ball found MacKenzie who looked a good five yards offside before he ran through to side-foot home.

The final action of the half saw a tidy spell of possession football ended with Inrig's hanging cross causing mayhem in the visting defence. Keith Dingwall's hurried attempted clearance struck the back of trialist Lee Martin and rebounded over the line.

Half-time - Thurso 5 V Tain 0

Tain made aspirited start to the second half with the experienced Kenny Fraser passing up a headed chance and Gray diving to keep out a Calum MacDonald strike. Nimmons did well to deny Bremner on 53 minutes.

Murray got his hat-trick after 70 minutes when he first forced a good save from Nimmons before latching on the ball as it span through the air to net with a simple header.

Murray completed the scoring on 77 minutes when he beat the offside trap and tan through to stroke the ball past Nimmons.

Substitute Luke Cassidy got a raw deal 10 minutes from the end when he became the second booking of the day when he was suffered the double whammy of being denied a penalty and then deemed to have dived. The last chance of the game saw Murray blasting over from eight yards five minutes from the end.

Manager Duncan Gray was happy with the performance and the result afer his side endured asticky start.

"We were perhaps just a bit too anxious to get our noses in front but once we got the first couple of goals, we settled down and played some good football." The manager was happy to see Makhouli return to action and with the addition of Nichol who is proving auseful acquisition.

On Saturday afternoon, Thurso play Balintore in the First Round of the PCT Cup.

A back injury continues to rule out Moar while Kevin Morris is a doubt with an Achilles injury. Alan Sutherland is unavailable but Martin Baker is back in the squad for the match, which kicks off at 1.30 p.m.

Thurso v Tain: M.Gray, A. Sutherland, Reid, Warner, J.Makhouli, Bremner
(Forbes 60), Inrig, R Sutherland, Nichol (Cassidy 60), Murray, Mackenzie.

Ref -- Mr G. Bain, Wick.

Other NCL scores

Alness United 2 V Halkirk United 1
Balintore 5 V Bunillidh Thistle 2
Golspie Sutherland 1 V Bonar Bridge 3
Invergordon 4 V Dornoch 5

PCT Cup First Round

Saturday 9th of November 2002

Thurso F.C.............2............V Balintore............1........(A.E.T)

Goalscorers - Kevin Morris (2)

At Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 1.30 p.m

Thurso F.C will now be away to Alness United in round two - to be played 23/11/02

Match report by Iain Grant


The Vikings prevailed in extra-time with Kevin Morris's second of the game enabling them to progress to the second round of the PCT Cup. Morris had broken the deadlock midway through the second half of normal time with Caithness exile Tony Farquhar restoring parity two minutes later. Thurso deserved to avenge their recent Port Services Cup 1-0 reverse at Balintore on the strength of a souped-up display after the break.

They shrugged off an undistinguished first 45 minutes to dominate the game and created ample opportunities to have the tie settled without the need for overtime. The early action saw the home side on the ascendant with Nigel MacKenzie's cross deserving better than Willie Inrig's weak header which Edward Shearer saved with ease.

Inrig was soon involved again with his feed from the right being back-heeled by Alan Murray to Morris who lost his footing at the vital moment. Keith Dinwoodie was the first to threaten for Balintore with his penetrating surge into the box after 10 minutes being thwarted by a fine, cover tackle from Graeme Reid.

Eight minutes later, home keeper Michael Gray was barely troubled with the first effort on goal -- a less than than convincing strike from Paul Skinner. After 21 minutes, an Inrig cross was knocked down by Morris in the direction of Jonnie Makhouli only for him to be denied a clear strike on goal by a timely intervention by John Skinner.

Thurso were playing in fits and starts with a high point coming with crafty interplay involving Morris, Murray and Mackenzie setting up Ross Sutherland for a shot which was well held by Shearer. Another dangerous move worked by Morris and Murray on the half-hour mark played in Gavin Bremner with John Skinner again to the fore with a last-ditch clearance.

Shearer, whose heroics loomed large in the previous cup-tie, again came to Balintore's rescue when he got behind a Sutherland effort after a Bremner corner had created pandemonium in the penalty box. Eight minutes from the break, the visitors fashioned a quickfire break which ended with Darren Mackay cutting into box and firing a left foot shot wide across goal.

Mackenzie featured at both ends in the closing minutes of the half, first seeing his arching cross acrobatically cut out by Shearer and then having his heart in his mouth as his schoolboy error of dribbling the ball across his own area went unpunished after a rebound off an incoming attacker rocketed wide.

The best chance arrived six minutes after the break when Mackenzie found himself in space at the back post only to drill his shot against the side net. After 52 minues. a searing Murray run set up Sutherland for a cracking effort which looked a winner all the way until Shearer somehow got a hand to turn the ball on to the bar and over the top. A near carbon copy shortly aferwards saw a Bremner shot being palmed on to the bar by Shearer.

Balintore were not without their chances with Gray doing well to clutch Mackay's well-struck left foot shot on the hour-mark. It was turning into a rattling good contest with Bremner making space for Morris who could not make contact as Shearer dived at his feet and then Stuart Skinner had his header saved by Gray.

The opening goal came on 72 minutes with Morris taking advanatge of a Bremner corner to fire home from just inside the six yard box.

The lead lasted for barely two minutes with Gray foxed by Dinwoodie's fierce shot which cannoned off Farquhar and into the net. The visitors had their tails up and after 77 minutes Gray was relieved to get a second bite at holding Powell's shot when he dived bravely at Farquhar's feet.

Four minutes later, there was let-off for the Vikings when a corner deflected off Inrig with Mackenzie on hand to hook the ball off the line. Balintore retained the initiative with Gordon Lowe unable to direct a volley on target at the back post.

Back came Thurso with yet another Bremner corner seeing Mark Nichol's shot eliciting a desperate block with Reid's back-heel going wide of the target. Morris could have finished the game two minutes into injury time when a Murray lay-off saw the big striker blasting over from 10 yards.

Morris quickly made amends when he struck what proved the winner five minutes into extra time. It stemmed from a rare error by Shearer who dropped a high ball at the edge of box and Morris was first to react to pass the ball into the net from 18 yards.

Thurso retained the initiative with Morris and Nichol going close to extending the advantage before the turnaround. Murray should then have opened his account, first rounding Shearer but giving himself too acute an angle to get in a shot and then seeing the keeper keep out his shot at the front post. Murray did better after 112 minutes when he latched on to Bremner's through ball and had a searing low shot well saved by Shearer.

Balintore mounted an all-out final assault with Gray doing well to get a hand to touch over a screaming shot from substitute Mark Hogg. Right at the death, Balintore vainly claimed a goal after Gray caught a looping cross only to be bundled into goal by three follow-up attackers. Nothing wrong with that in the red-knuckle days of the 1940s and 50s but not in today's game.

Thurso manager Duncan Gray was delighted to win through to set up an away match with Alness.

He said: "We didn't play particularly well in the first half but I thought we stepped things up after the interval and were pretty well ahead of them. "We should really have beaten them in normal time.

On Saturday, it is back to the MSIS North Caledonian League when Invergordon travel to Sir Georges Park. The home side will be keen to make up for their early season 5-1 reverse in Invergordon but have to do without Michael Gray, Ross Sutherland and Kevin Morris. The trio are heading for a Bruce Springsten concert in Orlando while Lee MacDougall remains overseas.

Brian Mackay is due to be between the sticks while there may be a return for Ryan Farmer for the match, which kicks off at 2 p.m.

Thurso v Balintore: Gray, Warner, Makhouli (Nichol 80), Reid, Bremner,Baker, Inrig,
Mackenzie, Sutherland, Murray, Morris. Unused Subs Not Used - Cassidy and Forbes

Other NCL scores

Alness United 4 V Dornoch 0

PCT Cup 1st Round

Tain St.Duthus 5 V Bonar Bridge 3

PCT Cup 1st Round

Halkirk United 2 V Invergordon 3 (aet)
Golspie Sutherland 1 V Bunillidh Thistle 0

Saturday 16th of November 2002

North Caledonian League
Dornoch 4 V Balintore 2
Golspie Sutherland 1 V Halkirk United 1
Tain St.Duthus 3 V Bonar Bridge 5

PCT Cup Second Round

Saturday 23rd of November 2002

Alness United...........2..........V Thurso F.C..............3...........

Thurso F.C Line-up - Mackay, Moar, Reid, Baker, Forbes (Begg 79), Inrig, Bremner,
Warner, Mackenzie, Murray, Cassidy. Unused Subs : Farmer and Arrowsmith.

Goalscorers - Alan Murray and Willie Inrig (2)

At Alness - kick-off - 1.00 p.m

Thurso F.C will now play Dornoch in The semi-Final with Golspie Sutherland already awaiting the winners in the final after they defeated Invergordon 2-1 away.

Match report by Iain Grant


Thurso spiked their hosts' long winning streak with this backs-to-the-wall victory in the second round of the PCT Cup. Johnnie Makhouli's eleventh-hour call-off through sickness added to a clutch of absentees which led to trainer John Arrowsmith being pressed into service on the bench as cover for stand-in keeper Brian Mackay.

The cup-tie looked to be slipping from their hands when their lead was nullified in a horror five minute spell when Alness punished sloppy defence with two quick goals. But the Vikings battled back to equalise with a cracking strike from Willie Inrig with 12 minutes left with the same player popping up to bang home an injury time winner.

Mackay was the first keeper on active duty when he had to look lively to plam over a wicked free-kick from Steven Maclean after four minutes. The visitors had to wait until 10 minutes for their first chance when Nigel MacKenzie set up Kevin Warner for across which Luke Cassidy diverted just wide. The rival midfields became engaged in a battle for supremacy which created something of stalemate for long spells in the first quarter.

There was little of note before home keeper Jody Campbell held an Inrig drive after 25 minutes and then Keith Sutherland created mayhem in the visiting defence with a tantalising cross which flashed across the goal. Good work by Alan Murray created the space for Nigel Mackenzie on the half-hour mark to send a rising shot over the top.

The game was becoming more open and Thurso's Graeme Reid did extremely well to block a Gavin Hayden effort after 35 minutes. Gavin Bremner's corner kicks are proving a potent weapon in Thurso's armoury this season. That again proved a source of danger on Saturday with Martin McAllister coming to his keeper's rescue in heading one corner to safety after 36 minutes with the follow-up seeing Murray unable to convert a golden chance.

The opening goal after 38 minutes came after a rogue deflection sent Murray racing through on goal. With defenders closing in, the striker opted to shoot early with his 15 yard effort beating Campbell low to the keeper's right.

Mackay protected the lead with a reasonable comfortable save from Keith Sutherland after 40 minutes but was relieved when three minutes later Hayden should have done better when he hit the side-net after being played in by Ross Jack.

Half-time - Alness United 0 V Thurso 1

The second half had a low-key start with the first action of note seeing Cassidy forcing Campbell to make an excellent stop after 61 minutes. Campbell was then happy to see a 30 yard thunderbolt from Bremner deflected for a corner. Alness stepped up a gear between 70 and 75 minutes during which time Jack headed a corner against the bar before the homesters struck twice in quick succession.

Brendon McGarvey equalised when he converted a Keith Sutherland cross and four minutes later Donald Sutherland had grabbed a second.

Thurso did not buckle and fought back to restore parity after 78 minutes. Murray won a 50/50 ball with a defender before laying a sweet pass into the path of Inrig whose blistering drive beat Campbell all ends up.

Alness finished the better of the sides and Brian Davidson was presented with two snips after 82 and 89 minutes -- both of which he botched.

Into injury time, Bremner's sweeping cross was dummied by substitute Jocky Begg with Inrig again the grateful recipent as e thrashed the ball home from 10 yards.

Thurso manager Duncan Gray praised his side for their effort and perseverance. "It was battling performance and it was a bit of a struggle, particularly towards the end of the second half. "We went through a bad patch but credut to the team for coming back and getting the win."

On Saturday afternoon, Thurso are away to Bunillidh Thistle. Shaun Moar came through Saturday's match intact while Michael Gray, Ross Sutherland and Kevin Morris are back from their trip to the USA. Ryan Farmer and Mark Nichol are also due to be part of the travelling squad.

Thurso v Alness: Mackay, Moar, Reid, Baker, Forbes (Begg 79), Inrig, Bremner,
Warner, Mackenzie, Murray, Cassidy. Unused Subs : Farmer and Arrowsmith.

Other NCL and Cup Games scheduled

Bonar Bridge 2 V Balintore 2 - NCL
Bunillidh Thistle 0 V Halkirk United 3 - NCL
Dornoch 4 V Tain St.Duthus 2 - PCT Cup 2nd Rnd
Invergordon 1 V Golspie Sutherland 2 - PCT Cup Semi-Final

North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 30th of November 2002

Bunillidh Thistle...........0..........V Thurso F.C..............3...........

Thurso F.C Line-up - Gray, Baker, Reid, Moar, Makhouli, Warner (Sutherland 74), Bremner, Inrig
(Forbes 70), Mackenzie, Murray, Cassidy (Morris 68). Unused Subs : Farmer and Arrowsmith

Goalscorers - Jonny Makhouli, Alan Murray and Graeme Reid

At Helmsdale - kick-off - 1.30 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


Thurso remain joint top of the MSIS North Caledonian League after scoring a trouble-free victory over the bottom side on Saturday. At this time of year, the exposed Helmsdale ground invariably throw up testing weather conditions and it has proved the graveyard for the title ambitions of several sides in recent years. But the Vikings never looked like slipping on this potential banana skin.

An early goal from Johnnie Makhouli helped settle the nerves with Alan Murray making it two before the break and Graeme Reid converting one of a clutch of chances which came his way to make 3-0 midway through the second half.

Thurso keeper Michael Gray was given a gentle introduction after his return from a foray to the USA. His first intervention came after four minutes with a comfortable clutch from Billy Cowie's close-on flick. Thurso were soon on the offensive and Warner went mightly close with a cracking 30 yarder after six yards. Latching on a half-clearance from Nigel MacKenzie's cross, Warner's effort clipped the top of the bar on its way over.

After 14 minutes, the Thurso camp were aggreived after Warner appeared to be upended in the penalty box as he chased Makhouli's through ball. Referee David Anderson thought otherwise.

Within three minutes, Thurso were ahead with MacKenzie's clever switch from left to rIght picking out Murray whose lay-offf was met with a sweet left-foot finish from Makhouli. The visitors were well on top and veteran keeper Donald Sutherland was finding himself far more involved than he would have wished. After 20 minutes, he was releived when referee Anderson ruled that Murray was offside as he raced on to Bremner's through-ball to face the keeper. Bremner sent sent a curling 25 yard effort marginally wide. Sutherland did well after 26 minutes after a neat move involving Warner, Willie Inrig and Murray ended with the keeper denying Makhouli.

Bulillidh rarely threatened though Billy Cowie's wicked cross on the half-hour mark did briefly cause panic stations in the visiting defence. A minute later, Malcolm Cowie was given space to try his luck from 30 yards but his shot lacked power to trouble Gray.

Thurso's advantage was doubled on 32 minutes with Luke Cassidy threading a cross between Sutherland and his defence and Murray running in to net with a right-foot fnish.

Bunillidh were battling to prevent further counters before the half and were indebted to Sutherland for a smart save from Bremner. The home side should have got one back in the last minute of the half when Chris MacRae failed to convert a clear-cut headed opportunity.

Half-time - Bunillidh Thistle 0 V Thurso 2

Thurso's dominance continued after the interval with Sutherland scrambling to reach a powerful 25 yarder from Murray at the expense of a corner.

The third arrived after 63 minutes when Bremner's free-kick was headed home by Reid.

A minute later, Cassidy set up Murray only for the latter to blaze over. Reid then had two further aerial opportunities from corners which were cleared. The game was petering out when Gray produced the save of the game five minutes from the end when he got down low to his left to deflect Cowie's well-struck effort from 10 yards past the post.

Bremner had the final attempt on goal when his 88th minute shot from just outside the box whizzed just wide.

Thurso manager Duncan Gray was happy with the victory and that his side had managed to keep a clean sheet. "It can be a difficult place to go to but we weren't really troubled. "They battled away but we were pretty well in control of the game and we missed quite a few opportunities to make it more convinving.

Thurso tomorrow travel to face the fast-improving Dornoch in the semi-final of the PCT Cup. Unavailable striker Luke Cassidy apart, Mr Gray should have a full squad assuming Murray gets off work.

Thurso v Bunillidh: Gray, Baker, Reid, Moar, Makhouli, Warner (Sutherland 74), Bremner, Inrig
(Forbes 70), Mackenzie, Murray, Cassidy (Morris 68).Unused Subs : Farmer and Arrowsmith.

Other NCL fixtures

Alness United 2 V Bonar Bridge 1
Balintore 4 V Golspie Sutherland 2
Invergordon 1 V Halkirk United 2
Tain St.Duthus 2 V Dornoch 5


PCT Cup Semi-Final

Saturday 7th of December 2002

Dornoch............2.........V Thurso F.C................1.........

Goalscorer - Alan Murray

At Dornoch - kick-off - 1.00 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


Dornoch's remarkable upturn in fortunes continued on Saturday as they booked their place in the final of the PCT Cup with this battling win over the Vikings. The visitors may point to a spate of spurned chances which spiked their long run of victories over the Sutherland side. But the forthcoming cup final clash with Golspie reflects the progress Dornoch have made after a long spell in the wilderness.

After Kevin Morris went close early on, Dornoch forged ahead on 10 minutes when Thurso defender Martin Baker lost possession and Scott McKain ran through to net.

Gavin Bremner then hit a post with a corker of a 30 yard free-kick with keeper Russell MacKenzie doing well to block Morris's follow-up.

The keeper kept out Nigel MacKenzie but was powerless after 16 monutes to stop Alan Murray from scoring through a ruck of players from a Bremner corner.

It was largely one-way traffic with Morris hitting a post and another Bremner rocket clipping the woodwork. Efforts from Johnnie Makhouli and Murray were beaten out by Russell MacKenzie as Dornoch welcomed the respite of the turnaround.

Half-time - Dornoch 1 V Thurso 1

The home side enjoyed a punchy restart and Thurso keeper Michael Gray did well to steer a 48th minute shot wide. At the other end, keeper MacKenzie made a brave dive to deny Graeme Reid and then foil Morris.

What proved the winner came after 62 minutes with Baker and Gray getting in a fankle as they sought to deal with a harmless-looking through ball from McKain. That left Mark Sanderson with the simple task of running through to slot the ball into the empty net.

Dornoch then put up the shutters as their goal came under constant attack.

The best chance fell to Nigel MacKenzie who could not convert after he was put clear by Bremner six minutes from time.

Thurso manager Duncan Gray was disappointed to lose only his second game since he took over the reins in mid-August. "We paid the penalty for not putting away the chances we had in the first half. "Us failing to score encouraged them when we should really have killed them off."

Thurso: Gray, Reid (Forbes 85), Baker, Moar, Warner, Bremner,
Makhouli (Farmer 85), Inrig, Murray, Morris, Mackenzie.

Other NCL fixtures scheduled for the day

Invergordon 3 V Tain St.Duthus 4
Bonar Bridge 3 V Bunillidh Thistle 2
Balintore 0 V Alness United 1

North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 14th of December 2002

Dornoch............0.........V Thurso F.C..............7...........

Goalscorer - Jonny Makhouli, Graeme Reid (2), Nigel MacKenzie (2), Alan Murray and Luke Cassidy

At Dornoch - kick-off - 1.30 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


Thurso have a tall order if they are to fuflfil what manager Duncan Gray believes they need to do if they are to claim this year's MSIS North Caledonian title. Before Saturday, he set them the task of winning their remaining six matches in a demanding run-in, which continues tomorrow with a crunch derby versus Halkirk.

The Vikings got over the first hurdle with something to spare when they put Dornoch to the sword and avenge the previous week's PCT Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of the Sutherland men. Thurso struggled to add to an early lead with several snips going abegging.

Frustration was starting to set in before they got the second after 38 minutes with two further strikes before the break ended the game as a contest. The opener came after six minutes when Gavin Bremner's free kick saw Graeme Reid soar above the defence to net with a firm header.

The home men had to wait until 10 minutes for their first effort of note when a break down the left flank ended with Pollard's cross drifting over.

Alan Murray was then denied by keeper Russell Mackenzie before confusion in the visiting defence left Pollard with a clear opening only for him to shoot wide. After 18 minutes, Bremner's free-kick should have produced a goal with defender Shaun Moar unable to find the target with a header. Bremner was played in by Murray after 22 minutes with the midfielder's shot beating the keeper but not Karl Sanctuary who got back to clear off the line. Dornoch were conceding a lot of free-kicks in their own half with a 24th minute award resulting in Murray getting in ahead of keeper Mackenzie and Johnnie Makhouli poking the loose ball wide.

The second goal finally came after good play play down right with Murray's lay-off ending with Cassidy drilling a shot into bottom corner.

Three minutes later, Cassidy turned provider as he held up the ball before teeing up Makhouli whose left foot screamer from 20 yards rocketing into the net off the underside of the bar.

Half-time - Dornoch 0 V Thurso 3

Dornoch were reeling under the pressure and two minutes from the break they conceded a fourth. A fluent move from the back saw Murray peel off a defender and play in Mackenzie who produced a cool finish after being put clear on goal.

The visitors continued to dominate after the resumption with MacKenzie doing well to thwart Murray on two occasions.

After 55 minutes, Murray finally struck after a sweeping move saw Reid's cross being headed back by MacKenzie for Murray to head home.

Mackenzie made it six on the hour-mark when another Bremner free-kick picked him out and he rifled a fierce volley past MacKenzie. Mackenzie almost completed his hat-trick when substitute Shaun Forbes found Murray and the striker's cross saw the former Academy man head just wide.

A smart turn and left-foot shot from Murray after 76 minutes saw keeper MacKenzie gather at the second attempt. Dornoch rarely threatened with Scott MacBain coming close after 85 minutes but being denied by a brave saving tackle from Moar.

Ross Sutherland's 20 yard strike was well saved by the keeper before a Cassidy corner in injury time was met by a sweet volley by Reid to make it 7-0.

Mr Gray was satisfied with both the result and the display. "The difference to the previous game was that we took our chances this time. "It was good to get the early goal and we did miss a couple of good opportunities before we got the second but I felt we were always on top."

Thurso: Gray, Reid, Moar, Warner, Baker (Forbes 62), Inrig (Farmer 65),
Bremner(Sutherland 62), Makhouli, Mackenzie, Murray, Cassidy.

Other NCL fixtures

Bunillidh Thistle 0 v Balintore 0
Halkirk United 2 v Bonar Bridge 2
Invergordon 1 v Golspie Sutherland 2
Tain St.Duthus 0 v Alness United 2

North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 21st of December 2002

Thurso F.C.............3............V Halkirk United.............1.......

Goalscorers - Nigel MacKenzie (1), Luke Cassidy (1) and Kevin Morris (1)

At The Dammies - kick-off - 1.30 p.m

Other NCL Fixtures

Alness United V Invergordon (Called Off)
Balintore 8 V Tain St.Duthus 0
Dornoch V Bonar Bridge (Called off)

NCL Fixtures played - 28/12/02

Alness United 6 V Invergordon 2
Bunillidh Thistle 0 V Golspie Sutherland 2


North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 18th of January 2003

Balintore...........0................V Thurso F.C.............2............

Thurso F.C Line-up - Gray, Reid, Moar, Warner, MacKenzie, Inrig, Bremner, Makhouli
(Baker 18), Sutherland, Murray (Forbes 85), Cassidy (Morris 74).

Goalscorers - Ross Sutherland (1) and Luke Cassidy (1)

At Seaboard Park, Balintore, Ross-shire- kick-off - 2.00 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


Two second half goals ensured Thurso prevailed in this energy-sapping, incident-packed tussle on Saturday. The win keeps Thurso's MSIS North Caley title hopes alive and brings up a half-century of goals in their league campaign.

What had been a hotly contested affair hinged largely on a two minute spell early in the second half when Ross Sutherland struck for the visitors shortly after the ordering-off of the tough-tackling Balintore midfielder Keith Dinwoodie. That raised the temperature further with referee Darren Hedges struggling to keep control as hot-heads on both sides put themselves at risk of being shown red. Luke Cassidy's well-taken strike after 62 minutes took the sting out of the game and made sure his side returned with the points.

Stormy weather had thankfully blown over to produce a dry, still day and a firm surface. A couple of early lusty challenges by home defenders which went unpunished set the tone for what was to prove a high-octane, bruising encounter.

Visiting keeper Michael Gray was quickly involved, cutting out a dangerous inswinging cross from Gordon Lowe after three minutes. Thurso were next to threaten when a beautifully executed defence-splitting diagonal pass from Gavin Bremner set off Nigel MacKenzie on a run which was thwarted by a shuddering tackle on the edge of the box. After 13 minutes, a hanging cross from Willie Inrig saw Balintore keeper Eddie Shearer clutch the ball at his back post to deny the inrushing Johnnie Makhouli.

Balintore missed a snip after 15 minutes when youngster Mark Hogg's cross was headed on to Stuart Skinner whose sclaff from inside the six yard box rebounced off the right upright. A minute later Cassidy had a half-chance when he ran on to a long pass from fellow striker Alan Murray only to snatch his shot . Makhouli's involvement was ended after 17 minutes when he had to hobble off with an ankle injury with Martin Baker replacing him.

With the Vikings' defence continuing to look vulnerable, James Skinner and Darren Mackay combined to set up Lowe for a header. His effort hit the left post though it was nullified by a late offside flag.

Murray appeared harshly treated after 20 minutes when he appeared to be blocked twice by John Skinner on a dangerous run towards goal only for the striker to be called up for a foul. A couple of minutes later, one of a rush of Thurso corners saw Graeme Reid head on and Sutherland just denied as he sought to apply the finishing touch. The game was increasingly being played in the Balintore half as the visiting midfield trio became more and more influential. Murray released MacKenzie after 28 minutes with Shearer making a bit of a meal of palming an unconvincing shot for a corner. Four minutes later, MacKenzie made a much better job of an 18 yarder which Shearer did well to beat away.

Inrig almost benefited from the rebound but John Skinner did superbly well to somehow hustle the ball out for a corner. After 35 minutes, the pattern was broken when a Balintore foray saw Hogg again the provider with a teasing cross which deserved better than Lowe's weak attempted finish. There was another worrying moment for Thurso a minute later when Inrig, at full stretch, sent a pass-back which Gray did well to divert away from his goal. The ball fell to Lowe whose return shot again lack pith and was easily dealt with by the keeper.

After 38 minutes, Mackenzie blazed a shot over after Bremner created the opening. The opportunites came thick and fast with Dinwoodie left with a red face after 40 minutes when Lowe's cross found him unmarked eight yards out only for him to slice the ball well wide. Two minutes from the break, Bremner's long-range switch pass found MacKenzie galloping in from the left with just Shearer to beat. He seemed to do everything right as he drew the keeper before his low shot bulleted just past the left post. Just before the break, Dinwoodie picked up his first booking for a late tackle on MacKenzie.

Half-time - Balintore 0 V Thurso 0

After the interval, it was the visitors who looked the more likely. After 49 minutes, Inrig's through ball was astutely flicked on by Murray to Cassidy. With a clear sight of goal and time to control the high ball, he instead tried his luck with a header which comfortably cleared the bar.

After 50 minutes, the game's trigger-point came when Dinwoodie picked up a second booking after he clipped Inrig's heels on the edge of the Balintore box. The free-kick was cleared but the home side failed to deal with the resultant corner. Inrig's cross from the right was not cleared and Sutherland was on hand to sweep the ball past Shearer.

Balintore's angst at Dinwoodie's dismissal extended off the field with play held up for several minutes before their manager Alan Brindle would comply with Mr Hedges' direction to remove himself from the technical area. Inrig got caught up in the general histrionics and was lucky to escape censure when he kicked out at a grounded opponent.

The midfielder showed his better side with a tremendous shot from outside the box which would have beaten Shearer had it not deflected behind off a defender. Inrig went on to provide the killer pass after 62 minutes which saw Cassidy skip down the inside-left channel, cut inside his marker and crash an unstoppable, rising shot from just inside the box.

The same combination almost worked again three minutes later with Cassidy's left-foot effort this time producing a fine stop from Shearer. Thurso were now in firm charge of the game and Shearer again had to look lively to keep out Murray's shot after the striker had been played in by MacKenzie. The keeper reserved his best for the 76th minute when he laid a firm claim to the save of the season. McKenzie's through ball had created space for substitute Kevin Morris who foxed his marker before unleashing a rocket shot which was arc-ing away from Shearer towards the right postage-stamp corner.

The keeper had a fraction of a second to react but somehow got his fingertips to the ball to divert it over the top of the bar. Shearer could do nothing a minute later but watch in relief as Murray's header from a corner came back off his right post.

After 79 minutes, laxness of the Thurso defence allowed Balintore substitute Scott MacLennan to run in unopposed on Gray. The striker looked to have squeezed the ball under the keeper but Gray managed to get just enough contact to send the ball round what was for him the right side of the post. Mackay picked up a late booking for dissent as his side succombed to a rare reverse on their own patch.

Vikings manager Duncan Gray said: "We knew it would be a tough game and they were certainly up for it. "I was quite happy with our performance though it was disappointing we did not put more of our chances away."

Damaged ankle ligaments look certain to consign Makhouli to a spell on the sidelines. Brian Gray is back training while Ryan Farmer could join the squad for the last away league encounter of the season at Bonar Bridge tomorrow.

Thurso v Balintore: Gray, Reid, Moar, Warner, MacKenzie, Inrig, Bremner,
Makhouli (Baker 18), Sutherland, Murray (Forbes 85), Cassidy (Morris 74).

Ref: Mr D. Hedges, Inverness.

Other NCL matches played

Bunillidh Thistle 1 V Alness United 3
Halkirk United 3 V Dornoch 3
Tain St.Duthus 2 V Golspie Sutherland 5
Friendly - Invergordon 5 V Bonar Bridge 3

North Caledonian League Championship

Saturday 25th of January 2003

Bonar Bridge...............0............V Thurso F.C...............3..........

Goalscorer - Kevin Morris (2) and Luke Cassidy (1)

At Migdale Playing Fields, Bonar Bridge - kick-off - 2.00 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


Thurso successfully negotiated this potential banana skin to set up a fascinating climax in their joust with Alness for the MSIS North Caledonian League title. Bonar on a foul day is never an easy assignment but the Vikings survived an early scare to wrap up the three points with two goals from Kevin Morris and one from Luke Cassidy. Morris and Cassidy joined Alan Murray in the spearhead of a 3-4-3 formation deployed by manager Duncan Gray.

Murray was afforded the first opening of the day after 10 minutes when Shaun Moar unlocked the defence with a well-executed pass. The striker came out second in his run-in with keeper Scott Lannon.

Bonar's back line was caught out again five minutes later when Ross Sutherland sent Cassidy racing through only for the youngster to be thwarted by a sharp gust of wind which swept the ball through to Lannon. Thurso continued to dominate with good work by Murray after 18 minutes setting up Morris who was unable to convert from a prime position. A minute later, the game could have taken a quite different turn had the home side taken what amounted to a gimme. Robert Macleod's loping run up the park saw him get a favourable bounce of the ball in a tackle with Moar to find himself in on goal. He rounded Michael Gray but his attempted tap-in to the empty net lacked pith and Graeme Reid got back to clear.

Thurso took full advantage from the let-off to go in front after 20 minutes. An indirect free-kick in the box saw Gavin Bremner tee up Morris whose 10 yard shot found the left corner of the net. The same pair combined after 28 minutes when Bonar's defence was again caught out with Bremner's through-ball found Morris who evaded Lannon before scoring.

Thurso had several chances to increase their lead before the break with Murray and Nigel Mackenzie both going close.

Half-time - Bonar Bridge 0 V Thurso 2

Mackenzie was first to threaten after the interval when his angled shot was blocked by Lannon. Bonar should have reduced the deficit after 50 minutes when Neil MacIvor's cross from the left drew a fresh-air shot from the usually reliable Ewan Dance.

A late challenge by Thurso's Willie Inrig after 57 minutes earned him a booking. The home side had Lannon to thank for helping keep the score respectable with his double save from Morris after 65 minutes particularly memorable.

A minute later Murray was unable to provide the finishing touch after good work by MacKenzie.

Morris was again denied by the keeper after 68 minutes before Cassidy finally made it three. The young striker neatly wheeled in the box to meet a centre and hammered the ball home from 12 yards.

Cassidy blasted another decent chance over the bar as the game petered out. Brian Gray made a late appearance to end a long spell on the sidelines recovering from injury.

Manager Duncan Gray was happy with the overall display while bemoaning the number of chances which again went abegging. He said: "We missed a couple of decent opportunities before they had the chance to go in front.

"Had that gone in, it could have been a different game but once we went two in front, it was pretty comfortable. "The second half was just about one-way traffic and we should have scored a few more."

He was relieved to get the points from his side's last away league encounter and is now looking forward to their two crucial remaining matches in Thurso versus Alness and Invergordon.

Thurso v Bonar: M. Gray, Reid, Moar, Warner, Inrig (B. Gray 84), Bremner,
Sutherland, MacKenzie, Murray (Baker 75), Cassidy (Forbes 84) , Morris.

Other fixtures played - 25/1/03

Morris Newton Cup
Balintore 0 V Alness United 2 - Second Round
Halkirk United 6 V Invergordon 3 - First Round
Tain St.Duthus 4 V Dornoch 7 - First Round


Morris Newton Cup Second Round

Saturday 1st of February 2003

Thurso F.C.............3............V Halkirk United..........1..........

Thurso F.C Line-up - M.Gray, Reid, Moar, Warner(Forbes), MacKenzie, Inrig,
Bremner, Baker(B.Gray), Sutherland(Farmer), Cassidy, Morris.

Goalscorers - Kevin Morris (2) and Willie Inrig

At Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 2.00 p.m

Match report by Iain Grant


The Vikings continue to hold the whip hand over their county rivals as they again finished the stronger to win through to the semi-finals of the Morris Newton Cup. Their passage looked by no means assured in the first third of Saturday's contest at the Dammies during which the home side established an ill-deserved 2-1 lead. United had a goal controversially chalked off before the interval but failed to maintain their challenge, with Kevin Morris's second goal of the game 15 minutes into the second half sealing the Vikings' ticket into the semis.

Halkirk were forced to reshape their defence, with regulars Keith Blair and John Martin unavailable, Colin Munro injured, and player/manager Richard Hughes missing out through a bout of post-Burns Night food poisoning. It was the Thurso back line that looked makeshift in the early stages as defenders needlessly conceded possession, were posted missing at corners and gave keeper Michael Gray precious little protection. With Halkirk's back three of Stuart Sinclair, Paul MacCallum and Andrew Henderson taking time to settle in, it made for rich pickings for both attacks and plenty of goalmouth action for the crowd.

The home side were first to threaten after four minutes when Gavin Bremner sent Martin Baker scurrying down the right side to cross early for Luke Cassidy whose volley was pouched by keeper Marc Swanson.

A minute later, a cross from Halkirk's Gavin Henderson drew a flashing header from Murray Coghill. It was going wide before the ball ricocheted into the path of Chris Dunnett whose clever lob went narrowly over.

The Vikings went ahead after eight minutes when Willie Inrig's through ball found Gavin Bremner whose shot was blocked. Morris followed up to steer the ball home from 12 yards.

Halkirk almost replied in kind two minutes later when the second of two Gordie Steven corners gave Sinclair a free header six yards out. Gray did well to make a goal-line smother but Sinclair should have taken the keeper out of the equation.

The action was fast and furious with Morris screwing a shot wide after being sent in on goal by Cassidy after 12 minutes.

A minute later, Halkirk looked to have equalised when Coghill latched on to a partial clearance from another corner. The striker's curling shot seemed destined for the inside of the left side-net only for Gray to somehow pull off a one-handed save.

Halkirk finally pulled level after 15 minutes in a move started and finished by Dunnett. His 30 yard angled chip had Gray scurrying back to see the ball rebound off the underside of his bar. The keeper then did exceptionally well to parry Derek Munro's follow-up shot and was given no help by his defenders as Dunnett was allowed to race in unopposed to net.

Back came Thurso with Morris heading just over from a Nigel Mackenzie free-kick shortly before the Vikings regained the lead after 22 minutes.

The aftermath of a corner saw Shaun Moar regain possession and deliver a teasing cross which saw Willie Inrig get in ahead of keeper Marc Swanson to score with a close-in header.

The Vikings threatened to extend their lead after 25 minutes when MacKenzie's through ball was cushioned by Cassidy who was unceremoniously clattered from behind by MacCallum as he shaped to shoot. Referee Derek Marshall may have used the advantage rule as the ball fell at the feet of Morris but the big striker fired the ball wide from 12 yards.

Thurso's bright spell continued with Cassidy's snap-shot after 28 minutes being blocked by a trailing leg of Swanson. There was then a farcical sequence in the Halkirk box when Swanson raced out to make another block on Cassidy and being hors de combat to deal with MacKenzie's resultant lob from the edge of the box. It lacked power with Graeme Gunn able to make a comfortable clearing header off the line which Swanson, by now facing his goal, gratefully fielded on the penalty spot.

Gray had to look lively to deal with a Coghill shot after 32 minutes as United came back strongly.

Referee Marshall was the focus of angry protests from the visiting camp after he disallowed goal after 35 minutes. A sweeping move saw Michael Bremner romp upfield and exchange passes with Coghill before firing in a shot from the edge of the box which was parried by Gray before being despatched by Derek Munro. The offside flag aginst the latter cut short the celebrations.

Before the break, Morris had a stinging shot well saved by Swanson and a fine effort at the other end from Gavin Henderson had Gray scrambling as the ball flashed just wide of the target.

Half-time - Thurso 2 V Halkirk 1

A low-key start to the second half saw bookings handed out to Gavin Henderson for persisting fouling and Luke Cassidy, for a cynical late challenge on Dunnett.

The game drifted away from the visitors when they fell two behind on 61 minutes when MacKenzie's deep cross found Morris whose bullet header flew across Swanson into the opposite corner.

MacKenzie was a constant threat after the break, with his forays down the wings. He twice went close before a Halkirk raid on 68 minutes ended with a sizzling strike from Mark Munro being tipped over the bar by Gray.

Thurso were awarded a penalty on 70 minutes when Inrig sent Mackenzie in on goal before he was checked by MacCallum. Martin Baker's spot-kick found the outside of a post.

Morris sent a header wide before Bremner curled a shot narrowly past as Thurso finished on top. Halkirk's last chance saw Mark Munro open the way for Dunnett whose attempted finish veered wide.

Thurso manager Duncan Gray was happy with how his side recovered from a sloppy start to win with something to spare."It was very uncomfortable at the start when we could not retain possession but after the third goal I felt we were pretty well on top."

His opposite number, acting Halkirk manager Billy Manson felt his side was short-changed in the first half. "I thought we deserved to be at least level at the interval, if not ahead and there looked absolutely nothing wrong with the goal we had disallowed. "The third goal was the killer and after that the game died. "Thurso are more experienced and streetwise -- we have a lot of youngsters who are still learning the game."

Thurso: M. Gray, Reid, Baker (B. Gray 79), Moar, Warner (Forbes 84), Bremner,
Inrig, Sutherland (Farmer 80), Cassidy, Morris, MacKenzie.

Halkirk : Swanson, A. Henderson (Gunn 20), Dunnett, MacCallum, Sinclair, Bremner,
G. Henderson, Steven (Elder 75), Coghill, D. Munro (G. Coghill 68), M. Munro.

Ref: D. Marshall, Inverness.

The only MSIS North Caley League match played on Saturday saw Balintore jump two places into fourth after they thrashed Invergordon 7-0. The other two scheduled cup clashes were victims of the weather.

Other Fixtures

MNC 2nd Rnd

Bonar Bridge V Dornoch (Off)
Bunillidh Thistle V Golspie Sutherland (Off)

North Caledonian League
Balintore 7 V Invergordon 0

North Caledonian League Chmpionship

Saturday 8th of February 2003

Thurso F.C.............4............V Alness United............0........

Thurso F.C Line-up - M.Gray, Reid, Moar, B.Gray, MacKenzie(Farmer), Inrig,
Bremner(Forbes), Sutherland, Cassidy, Murray(Makhouli), Morris.

Goalscorers - Kevin Morris (2), Nigel MacKenzie and Alan Murray

At Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 2.30 p.m

Match report from The Northern Times website -

Thurso moved three points clear at the top of the table thanks to a comprehensive 4-0 home win over title challengers Alness United. The Caithness side got off to a flyer when Kevin Morris volleyed home after the United defence failed to clear a Gavin Bremner corner kick in the 4th minute.

Nigel MacKenzie made it 2-0 in the 21st minute after good work from Morris and Luke Cassidy set up the chance.

It was one way traffic and Thurso stretched their lead five minutes later when Morris grabbed his second of the match after Alan Murray set him up.

United had a go in the second half, but they failed to penetrate a well drilled Thurso defence, and Murray completed the scoring in the 88th minute with a simple tap in from a Cassidy assist.

If Thurso win their home match against defending champions Invergordon on Saturday, Alness will need to take maximum points from their remaining two fixtures with Dornoch (away), and Golspie (home) to force a play-off.

Other NCL matches played

Halkirk United 4 V Balintore 5
Bunillidh Thistle 4 V Tain St.Duthus 2

PCT Cup Final

Golspie Sutherland 3 V Dornoch 1 - At Brora

North Caledonian League Chmpionship

Saturday 15th of February 2003

Thurso F.C.............6............V Invergordon............0........

Thurso F.C Line-up - M.Gray, Reid, Moar, B.Gray, MacKenzie, Inrig, Bremner,
Sutherland, Cassidy, Murray, Morris. Subs - Warner, Baker and Forbes

Goalscorers - Luke Cassidy, Kevin Morris (3), Nigel MacKenzie and Willie Inrig

At Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 2.30 p.m

Football Times Cup First Round

Saturday 22nd of February 2003

Balintore............2...........V Thurso F.C................3.........

Thurso F.C Line-up - M.Gray, B.Gray, Reid, Moar, Bremner, Inrig, MacKenzie,
Sutherland, Murray(P.Makhouli 70),Cassidy(Warner 86), Morris. Sub Not used - Baker

Goalscorers - Luke Cassidy (2) and Alan Murray

At Seaboard Park, Balintore, Ross-shire

Other NCL fixtures - 22/2/03

Alness United 0 V Golspie Sutherland 1 (League) - CHAMPIONSHIP GOES TO THURSO F.C !!!

Dornoch 0 V Bonar Bridge 2 (League)
Tain St.Duthus V Halkirk United (FT Cup 2nd Round) - Called Off


NCL Fixtures - 1st of March 2003

Football Times Cup 2nd Round
Tain St.Duthus 2 V Halkirk United 6

Morris Newton Cup 2nd Round
Bonar Bridge 4 V Dornoch 2
Bunillidh Thistle 1 V Golspie Sutherland 1 (Bunillidh won 4-3 on pens)

Fixtures on NCL Card - 8th of March 2003

Football Times Cup First Round
Bunillidh Thistle 4 V Bonar Bridge 3
(Bunillidh now plays Thurso - 22/3/03)
Dornoch 1 V Alness United 7

Football Times Cup Second Round
Invergordon 3 V Golspie Sutherland 5
(Golspie to play the winner of Thurso V Bunillidh 22/3/03)

Morris Newton Cup Semi-Final

Saturday 15th of March 2003

Thurso F.C...............6..........V Bunillidh Thistle...........0.........

Thurso F.C Line-up - M.Gray, Reid (Farmer), B.Gray, Warner, MacKenzie, Inrig,
Bremner(Forbes) , Sutherland, Murray, Cassidy (P.Makhouli), Morris.

Goalscorers - Alan Murray (3), Luke Cassidy (1) and Kevin Morris (2)

Sir George's Park, Thurso - kick-off - 2.30 p.m

The North Caledonian League Championship Trophy was presented after the match by league president Robbie Adams and league sponsor David Skinner of MSIS.

Other fixtures to be played - 15/3/03

Morris Newton Cup Semi-Final

Bonar Bridge V Alness United (Off)

North Caledonian League

Golspie Sutherland 2 V Dornoch 1

Matches played on NCL Card - 22/3/03

Football Times Cup Semi-Final

Halkirk United 2 V Alness United 1
Second Round
Thurso V Bunillidh Th - postponed as Bunillidh could not put a team
together therefore Thurso receive a bye to The Semi Final away to Golspie

Football Times Cup Semi-Final

Saturday 29th of March 2003

Golspie Sutherland.........2........V Thurso F.C...............3..........(a.e.t)

Thurso F.C Line-up - M.Gray, Reid, B.Gray, Warner, MacKenzie, Inrig,
Bremner, Sutherland, Murray(P.Makhouli 105), Cassidy (Moar 71), Morris.

Graeme Reid of Thurso and Robbie MacDougall of Golspie sent off

Goalscorers - Brian Gray (1 pen), Nigel MacKenzie (1) and Phil Makhouli (1)

At King George V Park, Golspie - kick-off - 2.30 p.m

Thurso now play Halkirk United in the Final - 12/4/03 at The Dammies

Match report from The Ross-shire Journal

Stormy semi-final ends in extra time battle

THURSO twice came from behind to pip fellow MSIS North Caledonian League side Golspie Sutherland 3-2 after extra time at George V Park to reach the Football Times Cup final. The Caithness side were on the back foot in the first half when they had to contend with a strong wind and a confident looking home side.

And it was no surprise when Robbie MacDougall headed Golspie in front in the 14th minute when he converted a Gary Reid corner kick.

Half-time - Golspie 1 V Thurso 0

But Thurso were back on level terms in the 51st minute when Gavin Bremner was taken down inside the area by lan Innes, and Brian Gray scored from the spot off the inside of the post.

Golspie hit back in the 71st minute when Walter MacKay scored at the second attempt. Innes sent MacKay clear on goal, and after Michael Gray parried his first effort, MacKay deftly chipped the rebound over the Thurso keeper.

It only took Thurso three minutes to equalise when Nigel MacKenzie netted with a 30 yard screamer that flew into the top corner of the net.

Full-time - Golspie 2 V Thurso 2

The tie went to extra-time, and Philip Makhouli snatched the winner in the 107th minute after just coming on as a substitute when he glanced home a Bremner free kick.

Bonar Bridge sprung a surprise with a 3-2 home win over Alness United in the Morris Newton semi-final. Gordy Lowe scored the only goal of the first half in the 38th minute to give Bonar the lead, and Ewan Dance doubled the lead in the 50th minute when he scored from the penalty spot. Dance was on target again on the hour mark with a low drive, then in a late rally from the Easter Ross club, a double from Ewan Murray made for a grandstand finish, but Bonar held out for a final spot with Thurso on Saturday.

Fixtures — Saturday, April 5 — Morris Newton Cup Final — 2pm — Thurso v Bonar Bridge (Victoria Park, Dingwall). North Caledonian League — 3pm — Golspie Sutherland v Bunillidh Thistle; Dornoch v Alness United.

Report written by Ross-Shire Journal Editor -

Other match played on 29th March 2003

Morris Newton Cup Semi-Final
Alness United 2 V Bonar Bridge 3
(Bonar Bridge now play Thurso F.C in the final)


Thurso won the Morris Newton Cup Final 6-0 at Victoria Park, Dingwall !!!


Match report from The North Star News


Thurso will have the benefit of home advantage when they meet Caithness rivals Halkirk in the final of the Football Times Cup in the last game of the season this Saturday.

Champions, Thurso, cruised to a 5-0 victory against Bonar Bridge in the final of the Morris Newton Cup at Victoria Park, Dingwall. Kevin Morris gave Thurso a dream start when he opened the scoring with a 20-yard drive into the bottom corner in the second minute.

Bonar were still reeling from the setback when Alan Murray stretched the lead.

An own goal from Michael Bonnar, who was attempting to clear a cross from Murray, made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time.

Half-time - Thurso 3 V Bonar 0

Then Thurso goalkeeper Michael Gray made an excellent save when he tipped over a penalty kick from Ewan Dance after Andrew Murray was impeded early in the second half.

Luke Cassidy netted number four when Murray’s shot rebounded from the crossbar on 71 minutes and Gavin Bremner completed the save from a Morris through-pass 10 minutes from the end.


Full-time - Thurso 6 V Bonar Bridge 0

Report written by North Star News Editor -


Football Times Cup Final


Thurso 1 V Halkirk United 0


At The Dammies, Thurso