|3||Muir of Ord||9||14|
|as of 19 January 2013|
Halkirk United FC - Reports, Results & Photos - Season 2011-2012
Football Times Cup, Final - Balintore - 14/04/12
Halkirk United 0 - 3 Muir of Ord
After a season of almost unbroken highs for the Anglers, Saturday turned out to be a major downer.
Put to the sword by an impressive Muir side, their dismal day at Balintore was capped by the late dismissals of defenders Colin Sinclair and Gavin Sinclair.
United, already deprived of the services of the injured Gavin Henderson and suspended Stuart Florence and Alan Larnach, were further depleted by Friday night injury call-offs Martyn Cook and Stevie Reid.
It resulted in an unfamiliar starting line-up with Steven Sinclair winning a first start at the heart of defence while young full-back Jordan Howden made his comeback from a lengthy injury lay-off.
Former player Murray Coghill was pressed back into service in midfield while Lybster teenager Steven Anderson was a late call-up to the bench.
Muir had no shortage of incentive in Saturday's final of the Football Times Cup, having finished runner-up to Halkirk in the North Caley League and having lost to them in the semis of two other cups.
From when Alan Fraser gave them a first minute lead, there was little doubt that this was going to be the Ross-shire outfit's day in the sun.
Veteran Alan Geegan added a penalty before the interval with Kevin Fraser adding a disputed third just before the final whistle.
The United defence were culpable in not dealing with a less-than-demanding cross in the first attack of the afternoon.
The ball fell for Fraser whose miscued shot flew past keeper Graeme Williamson.
Muir kept the upper hand with Alan Fraser going close to doubling the lead and Eddie Fuller sprinting clear only to be denied by a marginal offside flag.
Ewan Dance then headed Gillies MacKenzie's corner narrowly past while Colin Davidson's full-stretch block thwarted another highly promising attack.
Halkirk were struggling to put together anything by way of a meaningful attack while continuing to soak up waves of pressure.
On the half-hour mark, Williamson was forced to pull off a spectacular to turn an Alan Fraser piledriver behind.
Halkirk's travails continued when Chris Sutherland required lengthy treatment for a head wound which was to lead to his premature exit.
Muir's second on 36 minutes came from Geegan's conversion of a penalty after Steven Sinclair was adjudged to have upended Fuller in the box.
It would have got worse for the Anglers had Dance managed to find the target from Scott Houston's inch-perfect lofted cross.
Halkirk's best spell came in the 20 minutes after the break when they finally managed to seriously extend veteran duo John Skinner and Dave Brennan at the heart of the Muir defence.
It was however Muir who continued to create the openings from counter-attacks with Dance twice going close in between Williamson tipping a Fuller effort past.
The keeper was again in the spotlight on 73 minutes when Fulller wriggled free into the box.
Williamson spread himself to make a block with Alan Fraser sending the rebound wide.
Minutes later, Halkirk's best chance of the day fell to Nigel MacKenzie when he found himself 12 yards out with just the keeper in his sights.
His shot was well enough struck but close enough to Michael MacCallum to allow the keeper to palm it over the bar.
Martin Banks then set up Jack Halliday for a shot which whistled narrowly wide.
Colin Sinclair had a less than auspicious return to United colours when within 20 minutes of his appearance off the bench, he was given his marching orders after being shown a second yellow card.
It got worse for the Caithness troops in the aftermath to Kevin Fraser's 90th minute goal, when he appeared to foul Howden en route to slotting the ball past Williamson.
Gavin Sinclair's heated protest was marked by him becoming the second dismissal of the day.
United manager Jock Mackay acknowledged his side were well beaten.
'From arriving late, the day just went steadily downhill,' he said.
'Given the guys we had missing, we set out to keep it tight for the first 20 minutes and we lose a bad goal in the first minute.
'They were well on top in the first half and deserved to be two up.
'I thought we came back well at the start of the second half and had we got one back, we could have given them a fright.'
Manager Mackay was scathing of ref Gavin Dearie's performance, which he said plumbed the depths with the third goal.
'It was a clear foul on Jordan,' fumed Mackay.
'It was a 50/50 tackle and their guy has gone into it studs-up and sent Jordan flying.
'To let that go and allow the guy to run through and score was just farcical.
'They (Muir) fully deserved to win but the referee ruined the game as a spectacle.'
Halkirk United - Williamson, G. Sinclair, C. Davidson, S. Sinclair (Malcolm 80), Howden, Bremner (C. Sinclair 65), Halliday, Coghill, MacKenzie, Sutherland (Anderson 63), Banks.
Muir of Ord Rovers - MacCallum, Geegan, Leitch, Skinner, Brennan, K. Fraser, Fuller, Houston, Dance, A. Fraser, MacKenzie. Subs (all used) - Farquhar, McKie and Alison.
Ref - Mr G. Dearie
photos provided by Niall Manson