BAD weather created havoc with Saturday’s shinty fixture card – and with only three fixtures in the Marine Harvest Premiership going ahead – Kingussie’s 2-0 home win over Glenurquhart saw them take advantage of Kinlochshiel’s enforced idleness to move above the Wester Ross side into top spot in the table.
Kingussie have been undergoing a rebuilding process from the bottom up over the last two seasons particularly since the retiral of shinty’s all-time record goalscorer Ronald Ross, and the signs this season so far are encouraging.
As always, however a bit of experience at the back is no bad thing and in the early stages of this match it was as well that they had goalkeeper Craig Dawson as their last line of defence. On three occasions he pulled off good saves from Glenurquhart strikers James Macpherson and Daniel Mackintosh.
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Kingussie also had veteran defender in James Hutchison at full back and with current international Lee Bain at centre-half, the Glen forwards were unable to convert their early pressure into the goals that would count.
At the other end, the Glenurquhart defence were in solid form with international Fraser Heath coping well with the threat of Kingussie captain Ryan Borthwick for most of the match.
With both sides evenly balanced it was clear that the outcome would depend on which of these two sides would score the first goal. Eventually in the 73rd minute Kingussie made the breakthrough when Borthwick managed to get free of his marker with enough space to get a clean strike in from the edge of the “D” and his shot from a tight angle finally beat Glen goalkeeper Garry Mackintosh.
The goal lifted Kingussie spirits and in the last quarter the home centreline increasingly tightened their grip on the game with the pressure ultimately paying off when a high ball from James Falconer evaded Glen defender Lachie Smith and Kingussie youngster Roddy Young was on hand to seal the game with a fine strike from 12 yards.
For Kingussie’s new manager Dallas Young the result was welcome but more so was the manner in which it was achieved.
“This was a great game of shinty with both teams fully committed and played in sporting manner. There were no bookings and no injuries. We were delighted to win and Glenurquhart too will feel they should have had something from the match. We were happy to take our chances and it should give us confidence and something to build on for the rest of the season.”
Matters didn’t go quite so well for the other Badenoch side, reigning champions Newtonmore, who lost both points in a 2-1 away defeat to Oban Camanachd. Oban had the upper hand throughout the first half taking the lead in 18 minutes when a solo run by half forward Andrew MacCuish saw him ride several challenges to tuck the ball past ‘More keeper Owen Fraser from distance. Oban then had chances to further extend their lead but good work from Fraser kept them at bay though Oban’s Malcolm Clark should certainly have done better on at least one occasion.
A Lorne Dickie strike from distance in 27 minutes doubled Oban’s lead and though the Champions fought hard to get back in the match they found the Oban defence impossible to penetrate until a well-timed strike from veteran ‘More forward Glen Mackintosh in the 68th minute made it 2-1. ‘More attempts to get a share of the points were hampered when defender Andy Mackintosh earned a late red card.
In the only other Premiership match to go ahead Lovat came from being two goals down at home to eventually beat Kilmallie 4-2 at Kiltarlity.