Strathmore 1st XV made the trip down to Alloa on Saturday looking to bring back a bonus point win in their first league encounter for a few weeks. Head Coach Stewart Ross had little choice but to list himself in the starting line up due to the number of injured and unavailable players. With Alloa’s own pitch waterlogged the game was moved to the Lornshill School pitch where there were concerns on the state of it too, but not just with standing water. The Men in Black were dealt a blow when 2nd row Calum Nicol injured himself in the warm up, slicing his knee on shredded plastic bottle top found lying on the pitch which required stitching due to the severity of the wound. Jamie Scoular started for the injured Lock.
Strathmore started brightly but couldn’t break down the Alloa defence with their final pass either going astray or knocked on due to the wet conditions. Handling was a problem for both teams with the pitch turning up early on and a wee shower of rain it was rapidly becoming a mud bath with the ball a bar of soap.
After another player noticed broken glass on the pitch the referee took the very unusual decision to halt the game and spread players and coaches out along a try line and walk the length of the pitch picking up any debris they found lying.
Play resumed and Strathmore had a great opportunity to break the deadlock but a wee grubber kick from Ross was too heavy and found touch 2 metres from the Alloa try line despite winger Darren Bells best efforts to chase it down. Alloa cleared their lines from the resulting line out. Strathmore were playing the better Rugby but nothing was coming off for them and things got worse 15 mins from halftime when flanker Angus Smith and No.8 Lee Alexander clashed heads whilst tackling the same player. Both players required treatment so Tim Malkowski and Ewan Maguire took to the field but it meant a change to the pack positions and Alloa took the opportunity to press forward with some better play, creating a half chance which they took due to a couple of missed tackles and scored their first try. 5-0.
With their tails up it wasn’t long before the Home team extended their lead with a try and conversion in what was a costly 10 minutes for the visitors. 12-0. Some good defence from Strathie before half time prevented Alloa extending their lead further and it was a relief for the visiting supporters to hear the halftime whistle.
Lee Alexander returned to pitch for the start of the second half with a mummified sort of look to his head after Physio Carla Sutherland had patched him up hoping to get Strathie back into the game and on the score sheet. It wasn’t to be and it was Alloa who scored first in the second half, their 3rd try of the game, and it almost signalled the end for the visitors. 19-0.
With only 10 minutes to go Glenn Feighan crashed over the whitewash following a quick tap and go much to the delight of the visitors supporters and coaches on the sidelines. Lee Alexander split the uprights with the extras and all of a sudden it was game on 19-7. The Inchmacoble boys had found belief and moves were coming off, hands were working and hearts were racing especially after centre James Kiely shrugged off a tackle and side stepped the full back to score under the posts. Mr Metronome aka Lee Alexander slotted the conversion with 3 minutes remaining 19-14.
Alloa were rattled and Strathie were pressing hard but unfortunately the game ended on 80 minutes when a Strathie missed pass was knocked on and landed into touch much to the home supporters relief.
Full time 19-14. Man of Match for Strathmore was Glenn Feighan who put in a sterling performance both in defence and attack all day for The Blacks.
Strathmore Head Coach Stewart Ross commented “Brave effort from the boys and a lot of positives from the performance. Just took too long to score. It was one of those days where things just didn’t quite click early on.”
This Saturday Strathmore 1st XV are on the road again but just the short trip to Dundee taking on Harris FP’s kicking off at 3pm.
Match Report by Paul Wilson