Defending champions Loch Ness fired a fresh title warning as they roared to a 7-1 win against Clachnacuddin reserves at Inverness Royal Academy.
Sam Urquhart put Shane Carling’s men ahead after just seven minutes, but the young Merkinchers equalised on 22 minutes thanks to Aidan Mackinnon.
Loch Ness responded as goals from Martin Mainland and Allan MacPhee made it 3-1 going in at the break.
Sam Urquhart, who has been on a hot scoring streak, now has 11 goals for the season as he scored twice more in the second half, in between goals from Allan MacPhee and Mike Senghor.
⚫️ RESULT ⚫️
Clachnacuddin Reserves Fc 1-7 LNFC
It’s another win on Astro for the boys.
All the best to the young clach side for the remainder of the season.
— Loch Ness Football Club (@LochNessFC) November 25, 2023
Loch Ness, who were deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player earlier this season, are now three points clear of last year’s runners-up Invergordon.
The 0-0 draw between Invergordon and third-placed Halkirk United was music to the ears of Loch Ness, with their two closest chasers dropping two points apiece, although the front-runners have played two matches more than both.
Crucial win keeps Fort in the hunt
Fort William gained a timely boost in their bid to be title contenders as a Davie Neil header five minutes from the end secured a 2-1 win against Orkney on the Naver All Weather pitch in Thurso.
— Fort William FC (@FortWilliamFC) November 25, 2023
Martin Munro’s penalty five minutes before the interval put Fort in front.
Mid-table Orkney responded, however, on 54 minutes when David Hourie levelled the contest.
Fort, whose defeats against Halkirk and Invergordon had knocked them down the table, earned the victory thanks to Neil’s late goal to move the Lochaber team to within three points of top spot, albeit they have played more matches than those sides above them.
Golspie hit eight for new boss Banks
Another eye-catching scoreline on Saturday came in Tain when new manager Andrew Banks guided visitors Golspie Sutherland to a stunning 8-2 victory against St Duthus.
Banks, who led Golspie to the North Caledonian League title in 2018-19, was confirmed as Golspie’s boss once more last week, and his players turned on the style.
Doubles for Miller Mackay and Martin Banks and a goal from Robbie Murray made it 5-0 at half-time.
Sam Barclay and Ally Macleod got their names on the scoresheet before Robbie Murray netted his second of the afternoon.
Shell-shocked Saints at least ensured it wasn’t a complete wipe-out with goals from Jack Kerr and Billy Cairns.
St Duthus 2 Golspie Sutherland 8
— St Duthus Football Club (@StDuthusFC) November 25, 2023
Golspie are now eighth in the table, with games in hand against teams directly above them, while St Duthus remain fifth.
Lowly Bonar Bridge halt losing run
Second-bottom side Bonar Bridge ended a run of seven successive defeats as they drew 1-1 against Inverness Athletic in Alness.
Josh Sands broke the deadlock for Bonar 10 minutes into the second half, but Lewis MacDonald’s reply on 78 minutes means Athletic are now ninth.
Basement side Thurso are three points behind Bonar Bridge, having played one game less, following their 3-1 defeat at Alness United.
First half goals from Declan Cooper and Shane Harkness seemed to have Alness coasting, but the Vikings’ Cameron Montgomery halved the deficit five minutes before the interval.
However, 10th-placed Alness ensured their third win of the league season when Harkness netted again in the final minute.
It’s finished all square here in Alness as Athletic came from behind to secure a point.
Josh Sands put Bonar Bridge in front before Lewis MacDonald dragged Stuart Ross’s side level with just over 10 mins left to. pic.twitter.com/tul5UOws9W
— Inverness Athletic Football Club (@InvernessAthFC) November 25, 2023
The match of the day this Saturday sees Loch Ness visit Fort William.
NEXT NORTH CALEDONIAN LEAGUE FIXTURES (WEEK 17) – 2.12.23
Thurso v Bonar Bridge
St.Duthus v Invergordon
Halkirk v Alness
Orkney v Golspie (12.45)
Clach 'A' v Inverness Ath
Fort William v Loch Ness
— North Caledonian FA (@NorthCaleyFA) November 25, 2023