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Newtonmore fear they could lose Macdonald for four games

By Ali Morrison

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Steve Macdonald (right) could be suspended for four games in the worst case scenario.
Steve Macdonald (right) could be suspended for four games in the worst case scenario.

Newtonmore are counting the cost of their 2-1 defeat to Lovat in their Artemis Macaulay Cup first round tie at the Eilan following a controversial red card issued to Steven Macdonald.

The flashpoint occurred a couple of minutes before the break when Scottish international Macdonald was shown a straight red card for something said to referee Jamie MacPherson.

The Eilan side are awaiting official confirmation of the suspension which could stretch to four games given Macdonald’s previous disciplinary points accumulation.

‘More co-manager Norman MacArthur defended his player, saying: “What was said was never a red card in my opinion.

“Ritchie Irvine had collided with a Lovat player and Steven, who was playing full back at the time, was only calling for play to be stopped given it was a head injury.

“I’ve seen other players only warned in the same circumstances and I think Steven’s reputation has gone before him.

“We can’t appeal the decision, that option isn’t open to us. I intend to write the Camanachd Association to lodge a complaint about it though.

“We constantly hear there aren’t enough referees but it’s not good enough to just keep saying that.

“The game needs to be more proactive in attracting new officials.

“There needs to be incentives to attract more referees to get involved and even just offering an increase in match fees would help.”

I’ve seen other players only warned in the same circumstances and I think Steven’s reputation has gone before him

Following Macdonald’s dismissal, Lovat played Craig Mainland as the free man between defence and midfield, and they took the lead on 52 minutes courtesy of skipper Graeme MacMillan’s head-height, backhand strike from 15 yards.

Newtonmore were awarded a penalty when Stuart MacDonald fell on the ball, but the keeper atoned, saving Cameron McNiven’s spot-hit.

However, a ‘kick’ during the ensuing melee led to a second penalty which was converted by Struan Ross to make it 1-1 with 74 minutes played.

The winning goal came with just three minutes remaining as a break forward ended with Calum MacAulay’s clean, low strike into the net after good lead-up play from Fraser Heath.

MacArthur commented: “I can’t fault the players who gave everything. If anything, we played better after the red card, and everyone put in so much effort and showed great determination as they were so wound up by what had happened.

“We just ran out of steam a bit at the very end after all the effort, and I think we’d have won had it not been for the sending off.

“The young boys who came in were terrific. Duncan MacPherson suffered an injury early in the game and he was replaced by Rasmus Cheyne.

“Tristan Ross also came on and they were both terrific and I wouldn’t hesitate to use them both in future games.

“Struan Ross did really well when he went to full centre whilst I thought Martin Hall was fantastic.”

Newtonmore return to Mowi Premiership action on Saturday when they travel to play Oban Camanachd at Mossfield.

It is the first of two meetings over 14 days between the sides as they also clash in the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup first round at Mossfield on Saturday 25 May.

MacArthur remarked: “Oban is a hard task and, player-wise, we’re running short on numbers.

“I can’t see Iain Robinson or Conor Jones being fit in time and of course Steven Macdonald will be suspended but I’m hopeful Craig Ritchie will be back.

“We’ll be mindful that we have a MacTavish Cup semi-final at Fort William the week after and then Oban Camanachd again in the Scottish so it’s a very important stage of the season and we want to be as strong as we can be for the two cup games.”

Oban Camanachd’s Daniel Cameron has been sidelined after suffering a knee injury against Kyles Athletic at the end of March but Lewis Cameron should return after missing Saturday’s win over Oban Celtic.

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