Sutherland heads towards good Rothes season
ALI Sutherland believes his first-ever headed goal can be the springboard to propel him and his Rothes team into a good campaign ahead.
The former Caley Thistle and Elgin City attacker could be the smallest player in the Speysiders’ squad, but showed he has a spring in his diminutive frame by nodding in his team’s opening goal at Lossiemouth on Saturday.
Rothes went on to win 3-0 with Sutherland one of the stars of the show, back in love with his sport.
He endured a difficult time at Elgin, struggling to get at regular start at Borough Briggs before being loaned out to Rothes last term. Recalled by City in the second half of the campaign, he barely featured and admits he was under a cloud.
“I’m happy at Rothes,” said the 22-year-old, who made the permanent switch from Elgin in the summer. “I just needed to get enjoying my football again.
“That’s been missing from my game for the last couple of years. I’ve not really been enjoying it, too much travelling by myself so now it’s quite local and hopefully when I get playing games, that enjoyment will allow me to play my best football for Rothes.
“We are still unbeaten so it’s been a good start and we will definitely look to improve on last season with the additions we’ve made to the squad.”
Sutherland normally plays on the wing but enjoyed a more central attacking role at Grant Park last week.
That scenario brought about the unusual sight of six-foot-plus team-mate Craig Cormack on the flank, clipping over a cross for ‘wee’ Ali to pop a firm header past Lossie keeper Trevor Dear on 13 minutes to break the deadlock.
“I got the chance to play in the middle today from the start and it was just good to get in front of the defender and head it home.
“I’m not the biggest so it was a surprise and I can’t remember one headed goal before, so it’s good to get off the mark with a header this season.”
Keen to build on the previous weekend’s 4-1 win over Forres Mechanics, Rothes seemed to lose their way for a spell of the first half and had keeper Robbie Donaldson to thank for a couple of saves from Fraser Forbes and ex-Rothes man Kris Duncan.
“We were a bit flat,” admitted Rothes manager Steven MacDonald. “We got our goal and never really built on it and Lossie came more and more into the game.
“We stopped passing the ball and at half time we said we needed to do better than that.”
An injury to Cormack early in the second half led to the introduction of striker Gary Kerr, who made an immediate impact. Controlling Dale Wood’s pass into the box he squeezed a shot between Dear and the post which sliding defender Scott Wilson was unable to prevent crossing the line, and Rothes were 2-0 up.
They stretched their lead just before the hour thanks to a debut goal from ex-Ross County teenager Ben Johnstone, celebrating his first start by powering home Fraser Robertson’s corner.
That took the pressure off the Speysiders, who cruised to a victory which took them to fourth spot in the table.
A home game against Nairn County on Saturday and a trip to Huntly the week after could present Rothes with the opportunity to pick up more points and cement their position, while on Wednesday night they are in North Cup quarter-final action at home to Fort William.
“I’m pleased with a win and a clean sheet against a Lossie side who will make it difficult for teams this season,” said MacDonald.
Steven Anderson and Ryan McRitchie will return for Rothes after missing the Lossie win.