There were mixed fortunes for Skye and Lochalsh League sides in the opening salvoes of Highland Amateur Cup action at the weekend.
Kyleakin progressed to the second round of the competition with a 3-1 victory over Inverness outfit Sams, but current league leaders Portree Juniors went out against Ardersier while Portree edged their local league rivals Gairloch.
In the match in Kyleakin, a dominant first-half performance was enough to see the hosts progress in relative comfort.
Kyleakin made the most of the early running and took a deserved lead on the 20-minute mark. After some neat wing play on the right, youngster Gavin Finnie sent in an inviting cross which Norman Gillies gleefully accepted with a thumping back-post header.
Further chances came and went before the tie was all but settled with two goals in the space of the final five minutes of the first half.
First Euan Park spun quickly to drill home through a ruck of bodies to double Kyleakin’s advantage, and then Keith MacKenzie exchanged passes with Gillies before blasting home from the edge of the box to make it 3-0.
There was less spark about Kyleakin in the second period and Sams — a neat footballing side, but lacking in match fitness — gradually gained a foothold in the match. A lovely curling effort from Kyle Brindle with 15 minutes to go gave the city side some hope, though in the end the goal was too little too late to inspire a comeback.
The islanders now have a home tie against either Francis Street Club or John O’ Groats in the second round.
In a preliminary round tie Portree and GA United met in Portree for the second time in seven days. Once more the sides produced a close, keenly-fought affair, but this time the hosts edged it 2-1.
Mathew Lennox and Hugh Campbell grabbed the all-important goals for Portree, with Gairloch left to rue their failure to convert several good chances. Kenny MacKenzie was on target for the Wester Ross side who, despite good performances from Roddy MacLennan and Richard Moir, were unable to find the equaliser.
Portree’s reward is a first-round tie away to Highland Hoops in Inverness on 17th May.
Portree Juniors manager Phil McCaherty, meanwhile, said he had “no complaints” as his side were unable to replicate their flawless league form in their away game against a well-drilled Ardersier.
Ardersier started brightly and scored in the fifth minute when a mis-hit clearance fell to midfielder Brett Mitchell who from 18 yards shot home beyond unsighted goalkeeper Michael Nicolson.
The Juniors defence, in which Ally MacLeod was outstanding, then withstood a lot of pressure and seemed to be heading for the interval only one down before being dealt a further blow in the 44th minute. A quickly-taken corner found Donald Horsburgh, and although his first shot was blocked the Ardersier player reacted quickly to hammer home through a crowded penalty area and make it 2-0.
In the second half the Juniors midfield enjoyed significantly more possession, but despite the promptings of Chris MacNab and John Urquhart the islanders were unable to find a way through an experienced and well-marshalled Ardersier defence.
Ardersier take their place in the first round proper where they face a home tie against Ross-shire side Maryburgh.
RESULTS Highland Amateur Cup, Preliminary Round Kirkwall Thorfinn 5, Burray 2; Thurso Academicals 0, Pentland United 1; Tongue United 3, Lairg Rovers 8; Wick Thistle 8, Lybster 4; Culbokie 2, The Exchange 1; Portree 2, Gairloch Aultbea United 1; Phoenix 5, Korrie 2; Ardersier 2, Portree Juniors 0. First round Kyleakin 3, Sams 1; Point 3, Lochs 1.