Captain MacLeod steps up to mark as Newtonmore second team retain Division One title
NEWTONMORE'S second team rose to the challenge to retain the North Division One championship with a 7-0 victory at the Eilan against bottom club Aberdeen University.
On a dreary day weatherwise, the students actually started brightly as the game moved from end to end in the opening minutes.
However, the Blue and White’s defence coped easily with everything that came their way.
The first of the required fives goal came in the ninth minute.
A corner was floated deep and came to Craig 'Mole' MacLeod on a 45 degree angle just outside the D to fire home past visiting keeper Scott Moffat. The students created a chance in the 13th minute that required a solid stop from stand-in keeper Cameron McNiven.
But thereafter, the pressure grew on the Aberdeen goal.
Their defensive line-up coped manfully although at times it seemed that the 'More attack was trying too hard.
Manager Gardner brought on supersub Glen MacKintosh in the 26th minute this time to boost the firepower and he delivered in the 39th minute.
The 40-year-old lashed home a fierce shot to put the home side two up.
In the second minute of first half injury time, Moffat was ruled guilty of a kick in the area and Newtonmore were awarded a penalty.
Mackintosh took it but he blotted his copybook with a mis-hit that Moffat saved well and the sides went in at the turn with 'More still needing three more without reply to take the title.
The Badenoch side emerged from the dressing room in no mood to take prisoners.
The Aberdeen defence was under sustained pressure throughout and but for Moffat, the score could have eventually ran into double figures.
Owen Fraser was outstanding in the middle of the Eilan centreline.
Just five minutes after the turn MacLeod popped up a second time with a low drive from 15 yards out for 3-0.
Moffat then made a series of fine saves before MacLeod smashed an unstoppable shot high into the roof of the net to grab the fourth.
His hat trick goal at that stage meant a play-off with Glengarry at the very least.
The pressure continued and MacLeod went very close in the 66th minute with a shot that skimmed the bar.
But he was not to be denied and the all-important fifth goal came four minutes later.
A looping pass dropped neatly for the captain to take a touch and slot home.
Gardner rotated subs to keep things fresh. Sorley Thomson was a notable introduction, buzzing around outside the area and making his presence known.
Mackintosh provided a cushion in the 80th minute when his sharp shot beat the keeper.
Five minutes later the goal-scoring pair combined when MacLeod received a pass on the left side just outside the D and slipped it neatly to the veteran marksman square in front of goal on the edge of the box and he made no mistake.
* The work of Newtonmore's younger players is not yet done.
They face Skye Caman-achd at under 17 level in the London Shield Final this weekend at a venue yet to be decided.
This will not be an easy task as Skye are always strong at this level. Throw-up is at 1.30pm.