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Weekend off can spur Clach on to Friday win, says manager Jordan Macdonald

Clach manager Jordan MacDonald.
Clach manager Jordan Macdonald

Clach manager Jordan Macdonald hopes the lure of a weekend off will encourage his eager Lilywhites to score a Friday night win against Strathspey Thistle at Grant Street.

The fourth matchday of the Highland League season for these clubs has been brought forward at the request of the Jags, who have a golf fundraiser in place for Saturday.

The hosts were happy to oblige and Macdonald, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, explained that his players will only enjoy the fruit of their labours if they produce a winning result to push them on to four points.

He said: “I think we all like Friday football and we were more than happy to help Strathspey out with their request.

“Our players will be happy because they’ll get the weekend off – if they produce the goods on Friday night.

“No, but we’re all looking forward it. I hope we see a good crowd come down on Friday and we can give them something to go home happy about.”

Thistle have two points on the board thanks to draws against Huntly and Wick Academy, while last weekend they lost 4-2 at Forres Mechanics.

Clach responded to a 5-0 defeat to Inverurie Locos and a 5-2 home loss to Huntly by drawing 2-2 at Wick Academy last weekend.

Overall, Macdonald is expecting a challenging 90 minutes, but is hopeful his players can make home advantage count.

He said: “Strathspey have been a really improved side over the last couple of years and I think that’s plain for everyone to see.

“We’re under no illusions about how difficult a night it could be, but we’re at home and we’ll look to go and win the game, like we always have said we’ll do here since our first minute through the door.

“We’ll try and get the ball down and take the game to Strathspey.”

Caley Jags trio in line for debuts?

Three Caley Thistle youngsters could be on show at Grant Street, two in Clach colours and one for the Jags.

The Merkinchers secured defender Lewis Nicolson and midfielder Robbie Thompson, both 17, while Strathspey landed 16-year-old striker Ethan Cairns. All are on loan from the Championship club until January.

Midfielder Robbie Thompson, left, Clach manager Jordan MacDonald and defender Lewis Nicolson.

Macdonald revealed that watching his loan duo last Friday was all it took to go all out to land their services until the New Year.

He said: “We’re delighted to get both players, who will add to what we’ve got already. We’re looking forward to getting them going.

“There’s no doubt about the talent these boys have. Myself, Michael (Mackenzie, assistant manager) and one of the directors watched them last Friday and it didn’t take us long to decide we wanted to bring them to the club.

“Caley Thistle were brilliant to deal with. They have been really good to us and long may that continue.”

Strathspey Thistle manager Charlie Brown, meanwhile, was thrilled to get young Cairns on board and explained he’d settled in straight away.

He said: “Ethan is still young, he’s only 16, but he came into training the other night and it looked as if he’d been with us the whole of pre-season.

“He has fitted in well straight away. Caley Thistle have high hopes for him, so hopefully we can help him with his progression as a player and as a person. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Strathspey boss Brown also expecting battle

Like Macdonald, the Jags gaffer is confident that this will be a real toe-to-toe contest.

He added: “I’ve heard some really good reports about Clach and we know it will be a tough game.

“It’s two teams that like to play on the ground and attack. It will be an open match and hopefully we can take the points.

“We had a good session the other night, just to get the legs running after the disappointment of losing on Saturday.

“The boys are in good fettle right now and hopefully we’ll continue that into Friday night.”

And this won’t be the first time Brown has faced the Lilies away on a Friday.

He said: “I’ve had a team play against Clach on a Friday when I was a Forres at Highland Rugby Club and it was really good. It was under the floodlights and there was a big crowd.

“It was enjoyable and it would be great if we could get more Friday matches. It’s a big attraction, especially in a place like Inverness where you have Caley Thistle usually playing on Saturdays. If boys are wanting something to do, they can head along to the Clach game.”

Clach and Strathspey will meet at Grant Street next Wednesday too, in the last eight of the North of Scotland Cup.