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Highland League: Strathspey Thistle and Lossiemouth put North Cup on backburner; Forres try to keep wins coming

Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown.

Strathspey Thistle manager Charlie Brown says his side’s North of Scotland Cup semi-final will be firmly on the backburner when the Jags host Lossiemouth today.

Thistle produced a stunning 4-0 quarter-final victory over Clachnacuddin at Grant Street Park on Wednesday, which served as a perfect atonement for their 4-1 league loss to the Lilywhites at the same venue on Friday.

That sets up a last four tie at home to Rothes on September 1, however, after securing his first win in charge, Brown is intent on recording his first league victory when the Jags host the Coasters this weekend.

Brown said: “It was a cup quarter-final and I said that to the players, it’s not very often that you get into a semi-final, so they need to grab these chances when they can.

“Luckily for us, the boys went out there on Wednesday and performed well.

“We will take confidence from that Clach into Saturday. The Rothes game is a wee bit away. We have got important league games before that and we won’t look any further forward than Lossie this weekend.

“We know it will be tough on Saturday. Lossiemouth have started the season pretty well and they are well organised.

“I know a few of their boys and I know how capable they are of hurting teams if given the chance. We need to be on our toes from the first whistle to the last, like we were on Wednesday and hopefully we can pick up three points.”

Lossie also triumphed in cup action, with a 4-1 victory over Fort William setting up a semi-final tie away to Brora Rangers.

The Coasters are aiming to rack up a third straight win, with boss Joe Russell pleased with the momentum his side are building.

Lossiemouth boss Joe Russell.

Russell is without Ally Bellingham and Jared Kennedy, but is hopeful Lewis MacAndrew and Connor Macaulay can shake off knocks.

He said: “The signs were there before last season got cut short. There has always been an element of potential in the boys and they have hit a purple patch at the minute, so hopefully they can sustain it.

“Last year was very stop start, but the boys kept working and training the whole way through it. It’s starting to show.

“Strathspey is our next focus. Even in the celebrations on Wednesday, it was a case of preparing for Saturday.

“The boys know what they need to do, Strathspey got a good result themselves to turn the tables on the Clach result the week before. We will need to be switched on and focused.”

Can-Cans look to keep winning run going

Forres Mechanics are also looking to rack up a third victory on the bounce when they host Clachnacuddin, with Graham Fraser, Lee Fraser and Robbie Duncanson pushing for a start and Craig Dorrat also available.

Can-Cans boss Charlie Rowley said: “Our intention is to improve our performance levels. Although we got two wins, we understand we probably haven’t performed to our full capabilities. There were understandable reasons behind that.

Forres Mechanics manager Charlie Rowley.

“I’m looking forward to an enthusiastic and hungry Clach side coming to Mosset Park. They will be hurting a wee bit with their setback, but there are never two games the same. We will prepare for them at their best and try to get three wins on the bounce.”

Rowley has lost another member of his coaching team, with Craig Ewen departing to become Keith manager shortly after Brown made the switch to Strathspey in the summer.

Rowley will be looking to draft in a replacement, adding: “It has not been easy for us as that is two we have lost in the last wee while.

“I have known about Craig’s aspirations to be his own man, it was a conversation we had when I took him in five or six years ago that we could hopefully develop him and give him an opportunity in the Highland League.

“He has now got that and taken it. As much as it was a disappointment, it was not a surprise, but we will need to try and sit down and discuss where we go in terms of taking in a replacement.”

Clach boss Jordan MacDonald is demanding a response from his side following their loss to Strathspey, and he added: “We have got to show a reaction against Forres. We cannot play like we did on Wednesday, otherwise we’ll be in trouble again. It is something we need to get rid of.

“It was three cross balls into our box and we have got to defend our box better than that. We didn’t do that, as a team – not just the defenders. We will try and fix the problem and go from there.

“Friday’s performance did show what we’re capable of, but Wednesday was a different game. We just didn’t perform.”

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