Skye off to an encouraging start

Skye got their preparations for the new season off to an encouraging start with a 2-0 victory over Beauly in Saturday’s Thomas Ferguson Memorial Cup match in Portree.

A Jordan Murchison double did the damage for the islanders, boosting morale ahead of their North Division One campaign which begins in three weeks’ time.

Both teams were pretty close to full strength for what was a first test for two new managers.

For Skye, John MacLeod had to do without Kenny Campbell, Neil MacVicar and Kenny MacLeod while Roger Cormack’s Beauly travelled west without Dougie Blain, Sean Stewart and Scott MacLeod.

Having recently had a change of heart about playing this year, Jamie Gannon also started in goal in a Skye line-up which included five teenagers. A heavy pitch made conditions difficult, and both sides struggled to create much in the way of clear-cut chances. The best opportunity of the first half fell to Skye full forward Ally “Digg” MacDonald, but his effort when through on goal drifted just past the upright.

It took until 10 minutes after half time for Skye to break the deadlock when a slip from Beauly keeper Kyle MacDonald allowed Murchison a sight of goal, and the forward slotted the ball  home from a tight angle.

Allan MacKinnon – who had pushed up from defence to attack — then had a goal chalked off

for offside before Murchison sealed victory in some style with a 20-yard rocket in the closing moments.

For Beauly, defeat was compounded late on when forward Marc MacLachlan was shown a straight red card by referee John Angus Gillies following an off-the-ball swipe at Shockie MacLennan.

MacLennan was later named as the man of the match —  winning the Glasgow Mid Argyll Shield, which is presented after the fixture every year.

New Skye manager MacLeod said he was happy to see his new charges get off to a winning start, and praised the commitment shown by the squad in pre-season.

“We stated a no-train no-play policy was to come into force, and the team that was picked on Saturday reflected that as did the choice of David Grant as captain,” MacLeod said. “The players have been attending training in numbers, and I think we saw a bit of extra sharpness from them on Saturday.

“Shockie MacLennan won the man-of-the-match award, and I think it was one of his best games in a Skye jersey. But there were good performances right throughout the team.

“It’s a good start but it’s still early days for us. Hopefully, we can continue in the same form when the season starts in a few weeks.”

MacLeod expects to have Neil MacVicar in contention for the trip to face Premiership Glenurquhart in this Saturday’s friendly, though Glasgow-based Kenny Campbell won’t be available until the opening day of the season.

Skye begin their North Division One campaign with a home game against Beauly’s reserves on 1st March, while the Skye second team will be away to Glengarry.