It has been a bit of a stop start Highland League season with the weather and COVID disrupting the schedule and with clubs having played significantly differing numbers of games – Fort William 19, Turriff United and Wick Academy 25, and the other clubs somewhere in between.
Deveronvale have played 22 SHFL matches and have five postponed fixtures to catch-up on during the remaining two or so months of the season, so a busy time ahead. Four of these catch-up matches are at home – Fraserburgh, Buckie Thistle, Inverurie Locos and Clachnacuddin – and we have one catch-up match away to Huntly. There are three unallocated Saturdays between now and mid-April and, clearly, we will also need to play a number of mid-week matches too. COVID and the weather has also made it a challenging season for SHFL Secretary, Rod Houston, and outstanding fixtures probably won’t be allocated until after the SHFL Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday 23rd February.
Vale’s progress since we beat Fort William 10-0 on 20th November has been very disappointing, albeit with three defeats being by only 1 goal, and we are looking for a big improvement in the remaining twelve games of the season. However, as well as COVID driven cancellations and absences, we have been plagued this season by injuries and currently have the following players on the Long-Term injury list – Kev Adams (ACL), Caiden Imbert-Thomas (hamstring), Kyle McKillop-Hall (broken clavicle), Harry Noble (ACL) and Sam Robertson (hamstring) – and three players hopefully only on the Short-Term injury list – Ben Allan (hamstring), Robbie Allan (groin) and Rory Davidson (lower back). The injuries sustained by new signings Caiden and Kyle have been particularly frustrating but, as is so often said, “that’s football”.
As manager Craig Stewart told the P&J earlier this week, we hope to see Ben Allan and Robbie Allan back soon and will also be looking for returns by Rory Davidson and Sam Robertson in the next couple of weeks. The other players are some weeks away and whilst we continue to try to add the right players to the squad, we’ll also be giving opportunities to some of our younger players to show that they are ready for the step up to the SHFL.
We fully appreciate that these are challenging times and very much appreciate the continued support that our supporters give us, both home and away.