Ness 1 Western Thistle 4
Ali ‘Barvas’ Macleod turned in a man of the match performance in the Macleod Insurance Cup by bagging a hat-trick for Western Thistle as they over-came a nervy start to dominate and triumph by four goals to one against a Ness side that couldn’t prolong their bright start to the match.
Both teams were keen to make an early impression with Kevin ‘Barra’ Macneil stinging the gloves of Ness keeper Ross Morrison with a fine strike form the corner of the box. Ness hit back straight away with Jack Dunlop nodding a corner straight at Macdonald in the Thistle goal.
Sam Macsween had started brightly and his pace looked like Ness’s best weapon and so it proved on 16 minutes as he powered down the right wing before brushing aside Gordon Campbell and hammering a low cross onto the right peg of Dunlop who duly hammered the ball beyond Macdonald to put Ness one up.
The goal appeared to wake Thistle up as they began to take control of midfield with Macdonald, Macleod and Macneil dominating play but the Ness defence were proving difficult to break down and their lead stayed intact until the 34th minute when, after some sustained pressure, Thistle equalised through Johnny Macleay as he headed home a Paul Macleod free kick.
It was all Thistle now as they began to find gaps in the Ness defence and Ali Macleod soon tested Morrison with a low shot which the keeper held well. Macleod was not to be stopped and minutes later from a Calum Macleod corner he found himself in acres of space at the near post and he directed the ball into the net to give Thistle a 2-1 lead at half time.
Ali ‘Barvas’ had finished the first half on sparkling form and he only got better in the second as he played keepy-up with the ball just outside the box before turning and firing in a shot at goal. Thistle were looking to find him at every opportunity as Ness couldn’t cope with his pace. Soon he was played in again and found himself through on goal with only a flick of his boot required to lift the ball over Morrison and into the net to give Thistle a two goal cushion.
Ness never gave up but couldn’t replicate the form they had shown early on although James Morrison nearly found a way back with a run and shot from the edge of the box that forced a good save from Macdonald.
The two Macleods up front for Thistle are in the form of their lives just now and when Ali played in Calum he nearly matched his partners third goal but his lob was cleared of the line by Innes Macdonald. By the time Ali tried a hitch kick for his hat-trick the destination of this trophy was heading Thistle’s way although they had to wait until the last few minutes to put the icing on the cake.
A through ball fell to Ali ‘Barvas’, he caught the ball before it bounced, flicked it up, swivelled and unleashed a rocket of a shot that had Morrison beaten all ends up. A superb goal to finish of a sublime performance.
Macleod’s hat-trick may have owed more to his on-going battle with striking partner Calum Macleod to become out-right top scorer but it did him no harm as he was awarded man of the match by sponsors Macleod Insurance.
Captain Gordon Campbell then lifted the trophy from the match sponsors before setting off to celebrate with his jubilant team mates.