This year’s Ross Cup final will be a south Skye derby after Sleat and Strath and Kyleakin came through their respective semi-finals last weekend.
After an indifferent start to the season Sleat have now hit a rich vein of form as they eye a clean sweep of all local honours for the second year in a row. On Saturday, a James Robertson goal moments from the end of extra time gave them a 2-1 win over Portree.
The tie was an evenly-matched one, with Portree — conscious of the 5-2 defeat at Sleat’s hands two weeks previously — setting up with a five-man midfield, and a lone striker in a bid to restrict service to the champions’ free scoring forwards. Portree’s counter-attacking approach appeared to be working, as they took the lead in some style after 35 minutes. Allan “Ginger” MacKinnon drove past several players before curling home a fine left-foot shot from the edge of the box.
Sleat and Strath would recover in the second period, and as they gained a foothold in midfield MacKinnon would increasingly cut an isolated figure up front for Portree. The pressure told after 55 minutes when James Munley headed a deep corner back across goal for Ben Yoxon to knock home.
That corner was a tactic Sleat seemed to have been working on, and the same set-piece routine might have brought a winner before the added half-hour.
In a cagey extra-time period it was Sleat who just about shaded it, and the winner arrived five minutes from the end. Once again a corner did the damage, with Robertson forcing the ball home amid a goalmouth scramble to settle the tie.
KYLEAKIN booked their cup final place with an impressive 4-1 win at Plockton.
The visitors looked the sharper team from the outset, but despite a series of slick passing moves the islanders would have only one goal to show for their first half efforts. The opener came around the half-hour mark when, after being set up by Euan Park, Innis Thompson eventually steered home at the third attempt following two good stops from Plockton keeper Ross MacDonald.
MacDonald would also twice thwart the lively Gavin Finnie, while Thompson — causing all sorts of problems for the Plockton defence — also went close on a couple of occasions as Kyleakin pressed for the second.
For all their domination, Kyleakin’s profligacy was punished with 25 minutes to go when Plockton broke away to equalise. Kyleakin’s defence, with Duncan James excellent at centre half and Michael Taylor commanding as a stand-in goalkeeper, had looked in control. But a rare slip let Mark Evans in and the Plockton forward’s neat first-time finish levelled matters.
The equaliser served only to spur on the islanders and within 30 seconds Kyleakin had restored their advantage. Norman Gillies exchanged passes with namesake Stuart — just on as a substitute — before thumping in a shot which keeper MacDonald got a hand to, but couldn’t keep out.
From then on Kyleakin stayed in command, and their cup final berth was secured when Keith MacKenzie volleyed home Chris MacLennan’s deep cross with five minutes to go. In the final minute MacLennan then drove in a cross for John MacInnes to turn home and put the seal on Kyleakin’s victory.
The cup final will take place on Saturday 2nd August in Kyleakin.
RESULTS Ross Cup Semi-Finals Portree 1, Sleat and Strath 2; Plockton 1, Kyleakin 4.
FIXTURES Friday 25th July (kick-offs 7.15pm), William Wilson Skye and Lochalsh League Kyleakin v Plockton. Saturday 26th July (6pm), League GA United v Portree; Glenelg v Struan; Portree Juniors v Dunvegan; Sleat and Strath v Kyle.