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Late show for Alness against Rothes as St Duthus fall short at Bught Park against Inverness Athletic

By Niall Harkiss

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Teams competing in this season's Highland League North Under-18 division kicked off their new campaigns on Sunday.

Johnie Beattie (St Duthus) in pursuit of Max Morrison (Inverness Athletic). Pic: Fiona Mackenzie
Johnie Beattie (St Duthus) in pursuit of Max Morrison (Inverness Athletic). Pic: Fiona Mackenzie

Last year's runners-up Alness United escaped with just a point to show for their trip to play an inspired Rothes side in a 2–2 draw at MacKessack Park.

The Speysiders, who finished bottom of the division last season, stunned their Easter Ross opponents with a quickfire double inside the first six minutes of the match.

Callum Cruickshank was first to find the net with a well hit strike from outside the box after two minutes.

Liam Munro doubled the scoring just four minutes later.

It took United until midway through the second half to pull themselves back into the game – but not until they had denied Rothes a third from the penalty spot – Rory Maclean doing well to prevent a third that could have killed off any Alness comeback hopes.

The visitors eventually reduced the deficit through Roy Lyon on 59 minutes in the face of some persistent shot stopping from Thomas Fleming.

With just a minute left to play, a composed finish from United substitute Kyle Lawrie dashed Rothes' hopes of victory, as the game ended all square.

A closely contested affair at Bught Park saw St Duthus come up short at the home of new boys Inverness Athletic in a 2–1 defeat.

Johnie Beattie (St Duthus) in pursuit of Max Morrison (Inverness Athletic). Pic: Fiona Mackenzie
Johnie Beattie (St Duthus) in pursuit of Max Morrison (Inverness Athletic). Pic: Fiona Mackenzie

It took Saints just three minutes to take the lead though. when a corner was nodded back into the six yard box, allowing striker Johnie Beattie to react quickly with a back-heel shot to make it 1–0.

Athletic levelled the scores on 24 minutes with a well taken goal from Cruz Hastings who outpaced the Saints back line to latch onto a long ball and slot past Zef Ubych.

There was little to separate the sides in the second half other the deciding goal just before the hour mark – Hastings on the mark again, this time beating Ubych with a fiercely hit shot from inside the box.

At Nairn, Buckie Thistle were soundly beaten by the home side. An own goal, and individual strikes from Ross Murphy, Calum Young, Campbell MacDonald and Max Scott saw County take all three points with an impressive 5–0 win.

Wick Academy made the long journey down to Keith and made easy work of their hosts with a 6–0 win. Lewis Gill grabbed the plaudits with a neatly taken brace, while Elliot Cormack and Lewis Mackillop joined Scott Durand and Rory Taylor in rounding off the scoring.

In the only other game of the day at Lossiemouth, the local side beat Forres Mechanics 3–2 to claim the Morayshire bragging rights.

Defending Highland League North champions Clachnacuddin enjoyed a free week and will play their first game on Sunday August 29.

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