Rothes 1 Strathspey Thistle 1
It was a first half that offered little in the way of genuine goalmouth action but it was one in which Strathspey were able to demonstrate that they were comfortably a match for the home side despite being a man light for the majority of the period.
The key moment arrived in the 20th minute when Stuart Patience saw red for a tackle at the halfway line. In going for the ball his leg came up and when he connected with his opponent his studs were high on the shin pad with a straight leg behind them.
At full speed it was clearly unintentional and not likely to cause real harm, but it was one that would have had pundits calling for a red card when viewed on a slow motion replay. Referee Alex Shepherd sided with the pundits and sent off the bewildered number 20.
The rest of the half was characterised by lots of endeavour but little to warm the hands of either keeper. Stevie Dunn was marginally the busier making three good stops to keep out Nathan Wilson who was implementing his own shoot on sight policy.
In the 52nd minute an excellent piece of possession play drew a free kick 10 yards inside the Rothes half. Mark McKernie took it and passed it into the inside left channel where Joshua Peters had peeled off his man however Craig Ferguson was off his line quickly and made the block with his knees.
It was a crucial moment in the match as 90 seconds later Rothes took the lead. Nathan Wilson found space at the edge of the area and composed himself to drill a low shot into the bottom left hand corner past Stevie Dunn.
The pace of the game was beginning to pick up as the temperature on the park rose while it dropped dramatically off it. Mark McKernie drilled a 20 yard free kick low towards the bottom corner of the net but Craig Ferguson got down brilliantly to parry away for a corner.
There was a huge let off for the Jags who were relieved to see one of the misses of the season from Calum McIntosh. Donald Horsburgh began the move with a fine diagonal pass from left to right which picked out Joao Rodriguez. His inch perfect volleyed cross had taken Steve Dunn and his defence out of the game and left the midfielder with an open goal to side-foot into but somehow, from 3 yards out, he scuffed the ball wide of the post.
It was the last clear opening of the game but there was to be two efforts from range, both from the same player that were still to come. At the midway point in the half Thomas Borthwick served notice of his willingness to let fly when he drilled a low shot just wide of Craig Ferguson’s right hand post, sending the big stopper scrambling nervously across his goals.
Borthwick was then booked in the 73rd minute for a reckless challenge before ensuring his name was being taken for all the right reasons. With just four minutes left he was given 5 yards of space and from 20 yards blasted a wonderful shot high into the net to the delight of the boys in blue.
Reporter: Steven Rattray