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Easter Ross teams hope to make positive start as amateur league kicks off

By Niall Harkiss

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Three teams from Easter Ross will kick off their summer amateur league campaigns this coming week.

The North West Sutherland League elected to split into two divisions for the 2023 campaign, and Ross-shire based contenders Inver, Tain Thistle and Invergordon Social Club have found themselves positioned in the same group.

The newly established League 2 kicks off this week, with two games being played.

The only game of the weekend will take place at Melvich on Saturday, April 22, as Inver travel north for a 3pm kick off.

Paul Connelly's young Inver side are hopeful of making an impression in this year's amateur season.
Paul Connelly's young Inver side are hopeful of making an impression in this year's amateur season.

Inver manager Paul Connelly hopes to get his side off to a winning start against the side who finished one place below them at the bottom of the league last year.

Connelly says he has added experience to his otherwise young Inver side.

He said: "The boys are really looking forward to getting going. We've been back training now for a couple of months and we have had at least 20 attending each week, which shows they are hungry to get back.

"We've added three very experienced faces to our squad which will help the younger boys a lot. Our under-18 boys are now a year older, stronger and wiser too, so hopefully we can get some results together and be more competitive this season.

"Like ourselves, Melvich had a disappointing season last year, and will be out to prove a point. Fingers crossed we can return to Inver with the three points to get the season off to a flyer."

The following Wednesday, Tain Thistle will host their first amateur game since 2019, as they welcome Invergordon Social Club to Grant Park.

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Newly appointed manager John Maclellan has spearheaded the recovery of the Jags, and is hopeful that they can get off to a winning start.

Maclellan said: "It feels fantastic to be back. The positive support of the community has given everyone at the club a new lease of life and a commitment to putting forward our maximum effort.

"I have a strong team going into the game, with a good mix of experience and youth. We have a few familiar faces from previous teams along with some new lads I’m excited to bring in.

"The boys are trained up and raring to go, and I’m looking forward to getting under way."

Social Club have also appointed a new manager in Paul Sangwin. The Invergordon club have returned to ranks of the North West Sutherland amateurs having played last year as members of the Inverness & District AFA.

Sangwin says he is excited by the prospect of derby games against neighbouring Tain and Inver, but plans to exercise caution when it comes to setting out expectations.

He said: "The squad is looking forward to getting the league started ahead of what should be a good summer of football. It's going to be tough to gauge where opponents will be at this early in the season as it's been a while since these games have been played, but we are ready to start competitive games. Tain Thistle are always a good side and we expect the same from John and his lads next Wednesday."

The game between Tain Thistle and Invergordon Social Club will kick off at 7pm on Wednesday, April 26.

Both matches in League 1, Golspie Stafford v Helmsdale United and Lairg Rovers v Lochinver, have been postponed due to three of the teams being involved in the preliminary round of the Highland Amateur Cup.

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