KINLOCHSHIEL maintained their position at the top of the Marine Harvest Premiership after Saturday’s 5-0 home win over bottom side Kilmallie. The result ,though not unexpected ,was a particularly good one for the Wester Ross side coming as it did after Friday night’s Badenoch derby match up which saw seven times champions Newtonmore drop a point in their 1-1 away draw with Kingussie.

After a bright start from Kilmallie, ‘Shiel took a firm grip on this match midway through the first half with a display of deadly finishing from all three of the Macrae brothers which effectively killed off the game as a contest by half time.

The first goal for the home side came in the 26th minute when a long ball out of the ‘Shiel defence by half back Connor Cormack was pushed in from the wing by Keith Macrae to his brother John who took a quick touch before drilling it past Kilmallie keeper Shane Gillies for the opener.

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A Keith Macrae double then quickly followed as Kinlochshiel moved on to dominate this encounter and when the third Macrae brother, full-centre Finlay, pushed forward to fire home his sides fourth goal from distance all pretence of Kilmallie resistance seemed to have crumbled When Keith Macrae then pounced on a loose ball out of the Kilmallie defence to complete his hat-trick shortly after halftime it looked as if the goal fest would continue but unaccountably ‘Shiel eased off their pressure and no further goals were scored. This could be a failing which the Wester Ross side could come to regret if as seems very possible at this stage, the fate of the Premiership trophy goes down to goal difference.

Kyles Athletic also kept up their drive to land a first Premier League trophy with a 5-0 home win over Lochaber , a result that keeps them just two points behind ‘Shiel in the title race but with a game in hand on the Ross-shire side. Kyles though still have to travel north to face the leaders and with the Argyllshire side having lost twice in recent weeks to Newtonmore the advantage should lie with ‘Shiel.

Meanwhile Newtonmore’s 1-1 draw with Kingussie in Friday night’s Badenoch derby– costing them a crucial point – while not fatal to their title hopes certainly makes their chances of gaining an eighth successive title less likely .

The derby clash – billed as being for the trophy named after World War 11 hero Sir Tommy Macpherson – was in reality a crucial Premiership fixture for Newtonmore and two points would have seen them gain a psychological edge over both Kinlochshiel and Kyles Athletic in the race to land the league title.

Newtonmore should have been the hungrier team but in the event the younger Kingussie side , comfortable on their home pitch, at times outplayed their more experienced opponents particularly in their link up play. Despite their efforts however the Kingussie front men could not quite work a clear enough opening in the first half to get a telling strike in on ‘More goalkeeper Norman Campbell Newtonmore eventually went ahead in the 58th minute when full centre Michael Russell – the eventual man of the match – latched on to a quickly taken free hit by wing forward Fraser Mackintosh and fired the ball firmly home for the opener.

Further chances to add to their lead were passed up by Newtonmore and Kingussie made them pay in the 82nd minute when Young set up substitute Ryan Borthwick and his powerful drive flew past Campbell for the equaliser. Though Newtonmore did go on to win a penalty shoot-out to retain both local bragging rights and the Sir Tommy Macpherson Trophy-the loss of an invaluable Premiership point makes their goal of winning an eighth league title in a row a much more difficult one.