Sleat title charge gathers pace after win at Portree

Sleat and Strath seized the initiative in the race for the Skye and Lochalsh League title with a  5-2 away win over championship rivals Portree on Saturday night.

It was Portree’s first league defeat of the season, but they now slip a point behind Sleat with seven matches still to come.

Having lost comprehensively when the sides met at Kinloch earlier in the campaign, Sleat started like a team on a mission for revenge.

Their bright start was rewarded through a touch of good fortune — a free kick glancing into the net off the head of a Portree defender after only six minutes. Five minutes later the visitors had doubled the advantage — and again it was a set piece which did the damage. This time there was no need for help as Ben Yoxon curled directly into the corner from 22 yards.

Amid a frantic open spell Portree hauled themselves back in contention when Chris Rose reduced the deficit in the 20th minute.

Sleat were indebted to young goalkeeper Josh Knowles for some vital saves at vital times, but the south-end side continued to attack at every opportunity. By half time they led 4-1 with the deadly Gordy McCarroll netting a double to leave Portree reeling.

Callum Mattinson’s tireless running never let Portree’s defence settle, and as a result the hosts were unable to build from the back in the style which has become their hallmark.

Mattinson got his reward after 54 minutes when he fired home Sleat’s fifth to put the game beyond Portree — the hosts’ cause also hampered by the loss of influential centre half Robbie Weir to injury.
Portree did improve in the second period, and a late consolation came through Andrew Grant’s goal five minutes from time. By this point, though, there was little prospect of Sleat letting the lead slip still further.

ELSEWHERE on Saturday, GA United kept up their good run of recent form with a 5-2 home win against Dunvegan.

Kenny MacKenzie grabbed the opener inside two minutes, and a double from Roddy “Doey” MacLennan looked to have United in control.

Several chances were squandered by the hosts, before the visitors staged a brief second-half comeback — two superb free kicks from young Ross MacInnes reducing the arrears to 3-2.

United’s nerves were eased when Aonghais “Bear” MacIver made it 4-2 with 20 minutes to play, before MacLennan completed his second hat-trick in as many weeks 15 minutes from the end.

Kyle and Struan shared the spoils in a closely-fought contest at Feorlig. It was a game in which the hosts enjoyed the bulk of the possession and the visitors the best of the goal-scoring chances.

Struan took the lead midway through the first half when veteran John Mackinnon’s pinpoint free kick from halfway took out the Kyle defence and was met perfectly by Iain MacCusbic’s cushioned volley into the bottom corner.

Kyle’s best chance fell to James Matheson but he found Struan keeper Danny MacLeod in sparkling form — a theme which continued throughout the game. Just before the interval Iain Beaton almost doubled the lead but his strike came off the base of the post.

The second half followed in a similar fashion, as twice Matheson was denied in one-on-ones with MacLeod before Stewart Johnstone eventually breached the back line to draw Kyle level. Struan pushed on for a winner and with minutes to go an Iain MacCusbic header from a Daibhidh McDonnell cross dropped agonisingly past the post, although few could argue a draw wasn’t a fair result.

In the weekend’s other fixture Kyleakin thrashed Glenelg 8-1. Youngster Gavin Finnie grabbed a hat-trick with Norman Gillies (2), John MacInnes, Innis Thompson and a debut goal from young Stuart Anderson completing the rout.