Two late Loch Ness goals helped to finally see off Halkirk United 7-4 as the North Caledonian League leaders dug deep for their epic win.
Steven Anderson gave the visitors to Fortrose the lead, but Loch Ness were soon 2-1 ahead thanks to an own goal and one from Allan MacPhee.
Halkirk, with nine points from their opening eight games, responded and another one from Anderson and a goal from Liam Bain made it 3-2 after 32 minutes.
Phil MacDonald swiftly levelled and the half-time score of 3-3 was an indication there was more drama to follow.
Absolute madness today, 11 goals and some atmosphere!
— Loch Ness Football Club (@LochNessFC) October 22, 2022
Josh Race bagged a quickfire brace to put the division’s pace-setters two goals ahead, but again Halkirk hit back as Kyle Henderson made it 5-4 with eight minutes left.
United had hopes of taking a point, but Race completed his hat-trick and MacDonald his double to secure a sensational 7-4 result to remain four points clear of Golspie Sutherland.
Alness dish out derby hiding to Saints
There was also a remarkable outcome in the Ross-shire derby as second-placed St Duthus crashed 7-0 at Alness United to fall to fourth.
Two goals from Ryan McFee gave Alness control and Mikey Grimes and Euan Henderson stretched the advantage to four by half-time.
— Alness United FC (@AlnessUnitedFC) October 22, 2022
Alexander Mackay added a fifth goal on 72 minutes before Henderson and Grimes inflicted further damage to the Saints to move ahead of them on goal difference in third position.
Golspie win to stay on leaders’ trail
Golspie Sutherland edged a close contest 3-2 away to Inverness Athletic to remain in second spot, the nearest challengers to Loch Ness.
Sandy White opened the scoring for Athletic after four minutes, but late first-half responses from Cameron Sutherland and Miller Mackay made it 2-1 to Golspie at the interval.
90’ | 🔴 IAFC 2-3 GSFC 🔵 | #InvAth #GolspieSuth
It’s all over here in North Kessock and it’s who take the points. Goals from Sandy White and Aidan Hersee were not enough as Golspie netted three times to take the points back to Sutherland.
Match Report to follow…. pic.twitter.com/0kNousICoj
— Inverness Athletic Football Club (@InvernessAthFC) October 22, 2022
Inverness pushed for a second goal, but Cameron Sutherland extended Goslpie’s lead to 3-1 late on before Aidan Hersee added a consolation for the hosts at North Kessock.
Four-goal boost for Invergordon
Current champions Invergordon are mid-table after they earned a 4-0 win at home to Clachnacuddin A.
Goals from Benjamin Kelly and Niall Docherty in the first half were added to by Kelly again and Colin Mason in the second half to go level on 12 points with Fort William, who were idle.
Thurso hit back for draw with Orkney
Eighth-placed Orkney had to settle for a 1-1 draw away to Thurso, who occupy 10th position.
Jamie Flett put the islanders in front after just five minutes, but the Vikings earned their point with a goal on the hour mark from Robert McLean.
Full time score – Thurso 1 v Orkney 1. Vikings goal from Rob McLean.
— Thurso Football Club (@ThursoFC) October 22, 2022
Bonar Bridge score first win of term
Bonar Bridge remain rooted to the foot of the North Caledonian League, but will be heartened by their 4-2 home victory over Nairn County A.
Early goals from Adam Mackay and Jack Corbett gave the hosts something to hang on to and they made it three early in the second half with another goal from Corbett.
Robbie Lean’s reply offered Nairn some hope, but Bruce Urquhart added a fourth before Nairn’s Kieran Thompson rounded off the scoring on 72 minutes.
Bonar are level with Clach on three points but with a poorer goal record, with Nairn just one point better off in 11th place.