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County derby is set for debut in Highlands and Islands League as Brora Rangers host Sutherland Women

By Will Clark

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Brora Rangers and Sutherland are set to clash this weekend in the first county derby in the Highlands and Islands League.

Brora Rangers Ladies
Brora Rangers Ladies

The two teams will meet at Brora on Sunday when the Helmsdale outfit will travel to the Cattachs.

The clubs have had different starts to the campaign so far with Sutherland winning 5–1 at Nairn St Ninian in their opening match.

But a depleted Brora Rangers squad, where a number of players where forced to self isolate due to a team member testing positive for Covid-19, lost 11–0 to Buckie.

Brora player/manager Mary Stewart says she will have a stronger squad to choose from with several players back from self isolation and is looking for an improved performance.

“Against Buckie, we struggled with people having to self isolate after a positive Covid case,” she said.

“I think if we had our full squad it would have been a closer game.

“But we should have a decent squad back for this weekend.”

Brora Rangers have a good youth set-up playing from under-11 to the senior team and Stewart says the club are keen to give teenage talent the chance to show what they can do in the Highlands and Islands League.

“We have around 30 players on the books and the under-15’s are coming through to the senior squad. There is a development side to this season where we are looking to see how the young girls get on at ladies level.

“We have a good mix of young girls coming through and older experienced players.”

Despite it being the first game with Sutherland, Stewart says the opposition will hold no surprises to Brora this weekend.

“The players come from the villages around here and there are friends on both sides,” she said.

“A lot of the girls at Sutherland have played at Brora Rangers, they are good players so we are looking forward to a good game.”

Sutherland beat Nairn St Ninian in their opening game.
Sutherland beat Nairn St Ninian in their opening game.

Sutherland Women secretary Nadene McCulloch says the team are confident they can carry on from the opening day win at Nairn St Ninian.

However she said the team know Brora Rangers will present a tough challenge on Sunday.

"This has been two and a bit years in the making and there has been talk about Brora meeting Sutherland," she said.

"We have had little game time as a team whereas Brora played in the league in 2019 and that gives them an advantage to us in terms of a team situation.

"We have watched Brora play before and there have been times when they have lost by a big margin and that gives us faith.

"But they have brought in new players and we have no idea how it will go when we go head to head.

"We have to go out there positive as there is no point sitting on the back foot.

"It is a big game for Brora and us, it has been a long time coming.

"There is a lot of hype, but all that matters is winning and getting our goal difference up as there are other teams in the league who are walking it due to the amount of goals they are scoring."

Brora Rangers Ladies
Brora Rangers Ladies

Brora Rangers and Sutherland will be competing for a trophy named after a coach who passed away last year.

David Watson, who was a coach at Brora Rangers Ladies, died after losing his battle with MND.

Brora Rangers played a big part in Watson’s life, and he made a significant contribution to coaching women’s football in the area.

To recognise his contribution to Brora Rangers Ladies and the women’s game in Sutherland, the two teams will play for a trophy that is named in his honour.

The game kicks off at Brora Playing Fields at 2pm.

See the Highlands and Islands League table by clicking here.

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