Locos were comfortable victors in the sunshine at Harlaw Park to kick start Andy Low’s second spell in charge and record the first goals since his return. But for an impressive display by Strathspey keeper Oliver Kelly, the scoreline could have been even more emphatic as the Railwaymen put on the sort of attacking display that has been a rarity this season.
Locos had the first effort of the game, a good block taking the power out of Jonny Smith’s effort with 8 minutes on the clock. Just a couple of minutes later Smith turned provider, feeding fellow new arrival Sam Robertson who applied a clinical finish inside the left upright to net his first goal for the club. Locos have failed to capitalise on taking an early lead at times this season – notably in the reverse fixture at Grantown – so the Harlaw faithful were delighted when the second goal came just five minutes after the opener. Lloyd Robertson broke into the area on the left and showed good feet to beat Alan Kerr before the defender clumsily brought him down. Smith dispatched the spot kick, also his first since his return from Formartine.
Locos were buzzing now and threatened to run away with the game. Kelly pulled off a great save to deny Smith, who then fired narrowly over. The third goal came just after the half hour mark. Nathen Meres capitalised on a missed clearance to fire an unstoppable shot into Kelly’s top corner from the corner of the box. The hosts continued to dominate but couldn’t add to the scoring before the break.
Kelly was called upon again in the opening minutes of the second half, beating away a Smith header before Sam Robertson was too high with a shot from the edge of the penalty area. The visitors registered their first effort of the game, Daniel Whitehorn firing narrowly wide from distance. The same player had another go from even further out a few minutes later but couldn’t keep his shot down.
The fourth goal came with a little under half an hour remaining. Sam Burnett drove forward through the middle of the park before the ball was worked to Sam Robertson on the right hand side of the penalty area. There was some doubt whether the final touch on his inviting low cross came from Smith or a defender but Locos number 10 was more than happy to claim it.
Kelly continued to impress, saving well from Sam Robertson and Burnett to keep the score to 4. James McShane had the Jags final effort of the afternoon with another shot from distance that missed the target.
Andy Low made a few changes to his team for this game. Skipper Greg Mitchell played in the centre of midfield alongside Burnett while Jamie Michie slotted in at full back, from where his excellent deliveries into the box were a constant threat. It certainly delivered a good performance against a Strathspey team that have struggled all season. They must now find a way to repeat this in games where they will see less of the ball and that task couldn’t be much harder than next week’s trip to unbeaten Brechin City
Locos: A Reid, T Reid, Mitchell, Souter, S Robertson, J Smith (Halliday), Burnett, Wilson (Gill), Michie, Meres, L Robertson (B Smith) Unused Subs: Dingwall, Thain, Petermann, Shingler
Strathspey Thistle: Kelly, Paterson (Cuthbert), McDade (Loveland), Gilliland, Kerr, McShane, Austin (Williamson), Whitehorn, Davison, Logan, Ross Unused Subs: McConaghy, Flett