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Kings carry on where they left off last year


By Tom Ramage


THE Eilan was no place like home last Saturday for Newtonmore, as their auld rivals ran out 3-1 winners.

The Blue and Whites got to wear the strips of their new Balavil Hotel first team sponsors for the first time, but it did not seem to bring them any luck in front of a crowd up some 40 per cent on the last couple of years.

The increase was mainly down to the return of the Kingussie fans who had for several years tired of generally playing second fiddle in these encounters and had relished their win in the same fixture last year.

The optimism in the Badenoch capital faithful was justified.

’More skipper Evan Menzies was sufficiently recovered from injury to play at full forward, but Glen MacKintosh was on holiday.

Steven MacDonald was also back in the side, playing initially in defence. For Kingussie, Lee Bain missed out with a hamstring injury.

The Kings had claimed the honours last year with the game’s only goal. On Saturday they carried on where they had left off, taking the lead again, this time 19 minutes.

Savio Genini picked up a Fraser Munro hit-in just beyond the penalty spot and was given enough room to take a touch before firing a drive low into the net, beating keeper Kenny Ross to his right.

The hosts levelled within six minutes. Mike Russell played in an initial corner from the left which was cleared by Robert Mabon, but Steven Macdonald played a ball which went over Fraser Munro and Rory MacKeachan to Russell, who had stayed on the left. He lifted the ball over Craig Dawson in the Kings’ goal.

Kingussie lost Dawson on 35 minutes after he pulled a muscle making a good save from Fraser MacKintosh and Rory MacGregor took over in goal.

But in the 64th minute the visitors were again in front.

Ruaraidh Anderson won possession in midfield following a ’More goal hit and he found Genini, who passed to Roddy Young. Young barged Rory Kennedy to the ground before steering a low shot home.

’More pushed MacDonald forward, hoping to use his pace to create chances, but there was insufficient ball supply coming through the centre line to create realistic chances.

James Falconer put the icing on Kingussie’s cake in the 72nd minute.

Roddy Young held off Rory Kennedy and crossed low from the right. Andy MacKintosh tried to clear but the ball came straight to Falconer who rattled it home, to much delight from the north-east side of the field.

The first half had been fairly even, though the portents were not good even then, with a noticeable lack of rhythm and inter-passing from the home side and a degree of disarray in the centre. In the second half, the Blue and Whites looked a very ordinary side indeed, with some die-hard Newtonmore supporters saying this had been the worst performance they had seen in many a long time.

Kingussie’s young players, however, are undoubtedly on the rise and whilst they may not yet emulate the sophistication that created the pure poetry of their last great spell of domination, their energy and determination gave them a deserved victory.

Newtonmore manager PJ Mackintosh gave credit to Kingussie and wasn’t making any excuses for his team’s lacklustre display.

The Eilan was no place like home on Saturday for Newtonmore, as their auld rivals ran out 3-1 winners.

The Blue and Whites got to wear the strips of their new Balavil Hotel first team sponsors for the first time, but it did not seem to bring them any luck in front of a crowd up some 40 per cent on the last couple of years.

The increase was mainly down to the return of the Kingussie fans who had for several years tired of generally playing second fiddle in these encounters and had relished their win in the same fixture last year.

The optimism in the Badenoch capital faithful was justified.

’More skipper Evan Menzies was sufficiently recovered from injury to play at full forward, but Glen MacKintosh was on holiday.

Steven MacDonald was also back in the side, playing initially in defence. For Kingussie, Lee Bain missed out with a hamstring injury.

The Kings had claimed the honours last year with the game’s only goal. On Saturday they carried on where they had left off, taking the lead again, this time 19 minutes.

Savio Genini picked up a Fraser Munro hit-in just beyond the penalty spot and was given enough room to take a touch before firing a drive low into the net, beating keeper Kenny Ross to his right.

The hosts levelled within six minutes. Mike Russell played in an initial corner from the left which was cleared by Robert Mabon, but Steven Macdonald played a ball which went over Fraser Munro and Rory MacKeachan to Russell, who had stayed on the left. He lifted the ball over Craig Dawson in the Kings’ goal.

Kingussie lost Dawson on 35 minutes after he pulled a muscle making a good save from Fraser MacKintosh and Rory MacGregor took over in goal.

But in the 64th minute the visitors were again in front.

Ruaraidh Anderson won possession in midfield following a ’More goal hit and he found Genini, who passed to Roddy Young. Young barged Rory Kennedy to the ground before steering a low shot home.

’More pushed MacDonald forward, hoping to use his pace to create chances, but there was insufficient ball supply coming through the centre line to create realistic chances.

James Falconer put the icing on Kingussie’s cake in the 72nd minute.

Roddy Young held off Rory Kennedy and crossed low from the right. Andy MacKintosh tried to clear but the ball came straight to Falconer who rattled it home, to much delight from the north-east side of the field.

The first half had been fairly even, though the portents were not good even then, with a noticeable lack of rhythm and inter-passing from the home side and a degree of disarray in the centre. In the second half, the Blue and Whites looked a very ordinary side indeed, with some die-hard Newtonmore supporters saying this had been the worst performance they had seen in many a long time.

Kingussie’s young players, however, are undoubtedly on the rise and whilst they may not yet emulate the sophistication that created the pure poetry of their last great spell of domination, their energy and determination gave them a deserved victory.

Newtonmore manager PJ Mackintosh gave credit to Kingussie and wasn’t making any excuses for his team’s lacklustre display.

“We gifted them three goals through a series of defensive errors and despite creating plenty of chances we didn’t test either of their keepers enough.

“The better team won.”

One of PJ’s worries must be that in three competitive games none of Newtonmore’s recognised forwards have hit the net, but defensive solidity has been the keystone of their dominance over the past number of years and it was missing on Saturday.

Newtonmore supporters are not used to defensive mistakes, inconsistent hitting, apparent lack of bite in midfield and erratic forward performances.

The players themselves were not pleased with their display. Last year’s Marine Harvest player of the year Rory Kennedy put it simply: “We need to do a lot of work.”

Midfielder Jamie Robinson was also unhappy with the performance: “We were not good. We need to improve and do so quickly.”

The manager’s worry must be that many more displays like this and Newtonmore’s defence of their Premier Division title from last year will be over almost before it has started. Last year’s superb 19-match unbeaten run looks like a distant memory, although in fact there are only three changes to the squad. The players had to work really hard for their success over the past few years yet on Saturday not all the players looked fit enough in comparison to the young Kingussie team.

For the rival camp’s boss the story, of course, was somewhat different.

John Gibson told the Strathy: “It was really good. We finished really strongly, which was similar to the week before. The second half was really pleasing.

“The first half I think we maybe edged it. But had to make a couple of changes. And despite that the midfield performance didn’t slip - it may have actually improved. The longer the game want on the stronger we looked and I think we were unlucky not to pick up one or two more goals at the end. Defensively we were very sound. They’ve a sound defence but at the end our forwards showed up well against experienced international defenders.”

He added that the young forwards “made life difficult for them which was probably the most impressive thing,” adding “it was a big ask to play so well against an established defence.

“The whole team were excellent.”

n Selected shinty

Lest anyone should think that Newtonmore’s 3-0 win at Caberfeidh shows that they will come good after all, it is as well to reflect that current league leaders Lovat demolished Caberfeidh 8-2 last weekend at Castle Leod.

Lovat led from the first minute through Martin Mainland and went two goals in front on 25 minutes through Greg Matheson. The visitors extended their lead on 31 minutes with a strike from Fraser Heath. Lorne MacKay added another on 34 minutes to make it 4-0.

There were then two penalties either side of the interval. First referee Martin Maclean penalised Cabers for a kick inside the D on the stoke of half-time and Matheson duly netted. Caberfeidh were then given a penalty as Lovat keeper Stuart MacDonald was penalised for a kick, with Kevin Bartlett duly netting to make it 5-1.

Matheson got his hat trick on 73 minutes and Marc MacLachlan added a seventh three minutes later. Chris Johnson made it 8-1 on 81 minutes but Kevin Bartlett had the last word four minutes from time.

In North Division One, Caberfeidh seconds, who were promoted after finishing second in North 2 last season, continued their good start with a win over Kingussie seconds, 2-0 at the Dell.

The winning goals came late in the match with a double from James MacLeod on 76 and 81 minutes.

In North Division Two, all the goals came in the second half as Boleskine beat the Kilmallie seconds 3-1 at Smith Park. Kilmallie took the lead on 56 minutes through Kyle Michie.

However Duncan MacPherson equalised on the hour and Neil Hope on 75 minutes and Ross Anderson five minutes from time gave Boleskine the victory.

A strong first half helped Lewis Camanachd to a 6-1 victory over the Inverness seconds in their early throw up at Bught Park. Lewis were in front early on with Donald Lamont scoring on 17 and 19 minutes. Ally Lamont made it 3-0 on 21 minutes and Scott MacLeod added a fourth on 26 minutes. Donald Lamont completed his hat trick on 34 minutes. Ally Lamont got his second four minutes after the break but Inverness rallied and Finlay Calder pulled a goal back on 54 minutes.



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