EWEN MACRAE CUP FINAL
Sleat and Strath 5, GA United 1 (H.T. 5-0)
Sleat and Strath eased to a 5-1 victory over Gairloch Aultbea United to win Saturday’s Ewen MacRae Cup Final and complete a grand slam of all four Skye and Lochalsh football trophies in 2013.
The outcome was all but sewn up by half time, as a clinical display of finishing — allied to some woeful GA defending — had Sleat turning around five ahead at the interval. The second 45 proved a much closer affair but by then GA United, in their first final since returning to the Skye and Lochalsh League fold, had been left to rue a nightmare start which saw them concede three goals in the opening 15 minutes.
The game was only a couple of minutes old when Connaire Yoxon burst down the left flank to set up James Munley at the edge of the area. Munley’s driven ball was then missed by everyone before creeping in at the far post.
Worse would follow for the Wester Ross side five minutes later when Munley’s high, looping header was misjudged by keeper and defenders and dropped in under the crossbar.
In the 15th minute a third goal arrived — Ben Yoxon getting the break of the ball on the corner of the 18-yard box, and from an acute angle the midfielder duly thrashed home after spotting a gap at GA keeper Alan Elder’s near post.
Sleat looked like scoring from every attack, and in the 25th minute they added a fourth — this time Connaire Yoxon applying the pinpoint cross for the impressive Danny Selfridge to rise and glance home a header. The south Skye side then made it five when Calum MacRae showed great reactions to head home on the rebound after his initial volleyed effort had been blocked. The goal was just reward for MacRae’s fine performance at wing back, and as the teams changed ends it looked like Sleat were capable of heaping more misery on a United side who had mustered little in the way of attacking threat.
To their credit GA rallied, and though Sleat took their foot off the gas the exchanges were much more even in the closing 45 minutes.
With 25 minutes to play United grabbed a goal their efforts deserved when James Cameron headed home the rebound after Nick Stein’s free kick had crashed off the underside of the crossbar. Remarkably Stein — who has scored 48 goals this season — thrice found himself one-on-one with Sleat keeper John Davie in the final 15 minutes. But on all three occasions the normally-deadly striker put his efforts off-target, summing up what had been a frustrating evening for the mainlanders.
For Sleat there was only more celebration — the Ewen MacRae Cup having being added to the Ross, and GF MacRae Cups won earlier in the year, alongside a league title which had been wrapped up in convincing style as the Kinloch side racked up 57 points out of a possible 60.
To cap it off on the night Connaire Yoxon was named as the man of the match, while his older brother Ben was once again named as the association’s player of the year. Consolation for Gairloch did come, however, when Nick Stein was named as the young player for 2013 — a fitting reward for one of the area’s standout talents.