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North Caledonian League: Fresh start for Thurso as now-solo boss issues challenge to his side

After his co-manager stepped down, Scott Davidson is confident he can help the Vikings turn their early-season struggles around.

New Thurso manager Scott Davidson. Images: James Gunn Photography
New Thurso manager Scott Davidson. Images: James Gunn Photography

Scott Davidson is calling on Thurso to rise to the challenge of lifting themselves from the foot of the North Caledonian League when Fort William come calling on Saturday.

Davidson is now in sole charge of the Vikings after Michael Bremner stepped down from their co-management partnership following a tough start to the new campaign.

Their 3-1 loss against St Duthus in Tain last weekend leaves them bottom on goal difference, with three points from their first four NCL matches.

Davidson hopes to find more players available to play for the team on a regular basis, with low numbers hampering their efforts so far.

On Saturday at The Dammies, Thurso tackle a Fort William side looking respond to a 4-3 defeat against new leaders Invergordon last week – where they were stunned after leading 3-0.

Cohesion so crucial for Davidson

With the season still in its infancy, Davidson hopes his Thurso squad will show togetherness and a real determination to not be cut adrift at the bottom of the league, having only endured last place last term due to the nightmare campaign endured by winless Bonar Bridge, who are a team transformed in 2023/24.

He said: “We have not had the greatest of starts to the season in terms of results.

“We won our first game (4-2 against Alness United), but due to injuries and (low) availability of boys, it has been difficult.

“The main task is to build up a good bit of cohesion with the squad, getting guys along to training and having as many as possible available for games.

“We’re going to try and have a core squad of guys who will be available week in and week out. It is difficult at times to get boys together as there is always a crossover between the summer and winter leagues.

“Now we’re past that, we can work on improving results. I’m optimistic we can turn things around. We’ve not been getting much luck in the final third, although we have been playing some decent football.

“We need to start taking our chances. Too many times this season we’ve not taken them and been punished at the other end.”

Thurso seek to compete against rivals

Davidson, who wants to cash in more on home advantage this season, thanked former co-boss Bremner for “all his great efforts throughout this time at the club” and “for everything he did to help me”, saying the club wishes him well.

Sole management from this weekend doesn’t faze Davidson, who explained how a strong start to life on the sidelines was followed by tougher periods.

He said: “It was a co-management set-up with Michael and I.

“I was coaching when the previous manager Stevie Reid was here, then Michael came in and we began working together.

“We started our tenure pretty well by winning the Football Times Cup, but in the league last year our position was not great, then this season so far we’ve not started in the best way. We want to start putting more results on the board.

“It’s a tighter league this year and a lot of teams have improved, while the stronger clubs will be challenging for the league.

“In my eyes, when we have our strongest team out, we should challenge any opponent.”

Plenty of time to turn form around

Davidson believes the manner of Fort’s defeat against Invergordon will fire the visitors up for their clash at Sir George’s Park, but hopes Thurso can exploit any vulnerabilities at the top end of the pitch.

He added: “I am sure (Fort manager) Alan Gray will be looking for some sort of a response from his team after last week.

“However, we can also take positives from it, too – it shows while Fort William do score goals, they also concede goals.

“We’re positive going into Saturday. It’s still very early in the season. It’s not like we have just two or three games to go.

“If we can steady the numbers at training and building on the togetherness of the squad, we can kick on.”

Invergordon kick off early in Orkney

Second-placed Fort William will hope early front-runners Invergordon fail to win in their 12.30pm start away to in-form Orkney, while defending champions Loch Ness hunt their third win from four matches when they travel to second-bottom Alness United.

Inverness Athletic will aim to build on their 4-2 win at Bonar Bridge as they face Halkirk United in North Kessock, while Bonar are away to St Duthus, looking to at least preserve their two-point advantage.

Golspie Sutherland fly the flag for the North Caledonian League in the Scottish Cup when they host Highland League opponents Forres Mechanics in the first round of the competition.