- Created: Thursday, 23 April 2015 09:21
- Published: Thursday, 23 April 2015 09:21
Fort William travelled to sunny Mackessack Park for what was the only SHFL game of the evening.
This was Rothes’ last game of a turbulent season and they were rooted to the bottom with 11 points to show for their efforts.
A win would take them level on points with Strathspey, but with their goal difference being 21 worse off only a massive miracle score would stop The Speysiders finishing the season bottom of the pile.
Fort on the other hand would be guaranteed finishing no lower than 14th spot with a win, in what has been a great season for the Claggan Park side. Victory would see them sit in 13th position with three games still to play. All the remaining matches for the Fort are at home, starting with Cove on Saturday.
On-loan pairing Kenny Mair (Turiff United) and Andrew Howard (Forres Mechanics) had been recalled and with Callum Mcintosh and Brett Mitchell unavailable it left Rothes with just 14 players, one being a trialist. Fort William had a strong side although listed a few trialists themselves.
The last meeting between the two clubs was two Wednesdays ago. It was a thriller at Claggan Park with the teams sharing the spoils with a dramatic 4-4 draw. Both sides had a two-goal cushion in the match but neither could hold on to get the three points.
The first chance of this game fell to one of the Fort William trialists, with Ross Macrae meeting a clearance from a corner on the edge of the box, but his shot was high over Khalid Al-Samarraie’s crossbar.
Nathan Wilson then forced the ball past two defenders but found his shot blocked and was soon crowded out from a rebound by recovering Fort defenders in the 18th minute.
The on-loan Inverness City man had another opportunity from the edge of the area but it was too central to the goalkeeper, who made a save.
The breakthrough came in the 33rd minute and it was a beauty of a strike from Fort trialist, John McLeod. The ball fell to him from a corner about 20 yards out and he made no mistake in powering it into the bottom corner of the Rothes net.
The last good opportunity of the half again fell to McLeod, whose quick shot on the turn was saved well by Al-Samarraie.
The start of the second half saw both teams try shots from distance, with not much to trouble either goalkeeper, until Al-Samarraie clawed a Macrae header away from his top left corner in the 57th minute.
Rothes were struggling to retain possession and were losing the ball too often going forward. A decent run and cross from Wilson, after he beat the offside trap, was the only opening of note. But there were no takers in the middle.
In the 67th minute McLeod netted his second of the game and it was another cracker. The striker took one touch and hit a shot from the edge of the area into the bottom left corner of the goal.
McLeod then completed a hat-trick from the penalty spot with 10 minutes remaining. A good run by Andreas Broomfield ended with him being tripped trying to skip into the box from the left wing. The penalty was beautifully powered into the top right corner of the goal by McLeod and it all but secured the points for the Fort.
The gloss was put on the away side's win right at the end as Callum Maclean scored with a header after getting on the end of a corner from Barna Tot. It ended a near perfect night for the Fort men who were rarely troubled at the back, Rothes clearly missing the four players who had played so well in losing 2-0 against champions Brora just four days previously.
The lack of firepower up top was evident for The Speysiders but with Craig McMillan bound for Mackessack Park next season, co-Managers Paul Lamberton and Willie Duncan will be hoping that will change.
Rothes will be happy the season is now over for them and they can look to start rebuilding a team for next term, which will be the co-managers first full season in charge of the club. They will be looking to bring in some new recruits in the summer to put their own stamp on things and try to improve results on the park.
Fort William will go into their last three games with some confidence after controlling the game at Rothes and will look to keep 13th place. Only Keith, who play Wick Academy at Kynoch Park on Saturday can stop Fort from achieving that goal. It is the Lochaber club's best season since 1995/6 where they recorded a total of 26 points, which they can beat this year with one more win.