Gardner faces a manpower crisis
NEWTONMORE second team manager Orsten Gardner has major player availability problems ahead of the Strathdearn Final against Fort William this weekend.
He was not aided on Saturday by the sending off of Calum Stewart, along with Lee Riddoch of Kingussie, in a clash towards the end of the second-team derby.
Newtonmore claimed the two points after conceding in the opening minute with a 3-1 victory in the noon showdown at the Eilan in North Division One.
Gardner said: "Unfortunately both Neil Stewart and Ryan Spinks are unavailable and Duncan Gorman is cup tied so with losing Calum as well we are very short for the final – particularly up front."
From the off, the game was hard fought and challenging for both sets of players.
Newtonmore gave Mike Russell a run out in the second team as he returns from injury after a lengthy lay-off and had David Fraser back too.
Kingussie, with no first-team game, were able to call on the experience of James Hutchison, also returning from injury, Liam Borthwick and Bob MacGregor.
The Kingussie keeper had a rare outing from his usual role, playing at half-back on Saturday.
The home support were stunned early on when Jordan Reid beat Calum Grover in the 'More goal to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
Just a minute later, however, parity was restored when Somhairle Thomson saw the bounce on his flat shot defeat the Kings keeper to level the score. Two excellent Mike Russell goals on 34 and 44 minutes gave Newtonmore a 3-1 lead at the turn and it did look as though there could be more to come.
There were also increasing signs of bad tempered flare ups from both sides though mostly of the handbags at dawn variety.
In the end, there was to be no further scoring although Kingussie pressed hard at times.
But the main talking point of the second half came 10 minutes from time when Stewart and Riddich saw the red mist descend – and then the red card.
All in all, though, a hard fought and competitive derby that made entertaining watching. Gardner added: "I thought it was feisty too with one or two naughty moments but nothing too bad.
"Kingussie had a strong team with first team boys dropping down and any team with Hutchy in it is going to worry you.
"I thought we dominated the first 30 minutes or so of the second half but then for the last 15 our defence had to withstand a lot of pressure.
"Mike Russell returning from injury was a massive plus for us – you could see his quality and he took his goals superbly.
"I also thought David Fraser was excellent and we are delighted to have him helping us till the end of the season."
The result moves Newtonmore into second place, seven points behind Glengarry but still with four games in hand.
'Garry continued to rack up points though with a 4-0 home win over Kinlochshiel.
After a goalless first half, Glengarry asserted their authority with goals from David Rodgers (46th), Nick Dalgety (51st), Ken Henderson (61st) and Rhuairaidh MacDonald five minutes from time.
Newtonmore seconds have another huge game this Saturday when they face Fort William seconds in the Strathdearn Cup Final at Inverness' Bught Park with a 4pm throw up.
* Strathspey continue to keep up the pressure on North Division Two leaders Lochcarron.
The Grantown side cannot afford to drop a single point in their challenge and they hammered Lewis 8-0 at Grantown Grammar School.
Wins for the top two leaves the strath side three points adrift in second but with a game in hand.
Struan Ross netted first after just six minutes, then the ex-Newtonmore contingent kicked in with Chris Sellar netting four times – in the 9th, 21st, 52nd and 74th minutes.
John Mackenzie scored in the 46th minute and Mark MacDonald got in on the act in the 72nd and 79th minutes.
Lochcarron won 6-0 at home over Inverness to maintain the gap with a Gregor Cushnie hat-trick the highlight.