Kinlochshiel 3, Glenurquhart 3
With this home draw against Glenurquhart, Kinlochshiel should have done enough to guarantee they will still be playing premiership shinty next season. It is possible mathematically for bottom club Lochaber to overtake Shiel. But in order to do so they would need Shiel to lose heavily at home to Kyles Athletic this Saturday and Lochaber to beat Kyles in Tighnabruaich the following weekend by a substantial margin.
Kinlochshiel’s John MacRae is still sidelined with a broken thumb, while his brother Keith started on the bench due to a groin strain sustained the previous week. Glen manager Drew MacNeil had John Barr and James Hurwood on the bench, and Andrew Corrigan was unavalable.
The versatile Fraser Heath played in attack for Glenurquhart and got the visitors off to the best possible start with a goal after just six minutes when he made a run up the left flank and evaded a couple of tackles before hitting an unstoppable shot beyond keeper Scott Kennedy into the far corner of the net.
Shiel wing forward Jordan Fraser fired over at the junction of bar and upright, while Neale Reid wasn’t far off target at the other end of the field.
The Glen defence were finding it hard to deal with the direct, bustling approach of Shiel forward Gordy MacDonald. On the quarter-hour mark, MacDonald was bursting through on goal before he was brought down by a sliding tackle on the edge of the area. From the resulting free hit David Falconer played the ball short to MacDonald, and this time it took a wonderful save from Stuart Mackintosh to deny him.
There were half-chances for David Falconer and defender Mark MacDonald, who was pushing forward at every opportunity, before the visitors doubled their advantage on 25 minutes. The lead-up work by Arran Macdonald and Fraser Heath was excellent, but the goal itself was fortunate as Shiel full centre Finlay MacRae appeared to divert Neale Reid’s strike beyond Kennedy despite the keeper’s attempt to keep the ball out.
This was a blow to Shiel, as the goal came at a time in the game when they were looking strong.
Five minutes before the half-time interval, however, there was a real let-off for the home side. A defensive error allowed the ball to run to an unmarked Neale Reid on the right of the area but with just the keeper to beat he sliced his shot wide. And Shiel might have profited moments later when Gordy MacDonald was again running through on goal but after an initial mistake keeper Mackintosh recovered to turn the ball behind for a corner.
At the start of the second half Shiel manager Colin Fraser sent on Keith MacRae in place of Ewan Falconer and inside a minute MacRae signalled his intent with a strike which flew just wide of the target.
Glen suffered a setback after the influential Fraser Heath had to go off for treatment for a head cut he suffered when he was brought down by Shiel full back Paul MacRae, who was yellow-carded by referee John Angus Gillies. Billy Urquhart came off the bench to replace the injured Heath.
However, it was a free hit at the other end of the field which led to the home side pulling a goal back in the 60th minute. Keith MacRae was driving at the heart of the Glen defence when he was taken down, and following the resulting free hit MacRae himself crashed the ball home for 2-1.
Duncan “Ach” MacRae was sent on in place of David Falconer and made an immediate impact. Keith MacRae delivered a cross from the right and Mark MacDonald made a strong run to the far post to get on the end of it, and when the ball broke into the path of the newly-introduced substitute he drove it home despite the efforts of a defender to block the shot. With 63 minutes played, it was all-square again.
Glen responded by sending back on a heavily-bandaged Fraser Heath and pushing forward the impressive Lewis MacLennan.
Keith MacRae came within inches of putting Shiel ahead on 75 minutes when he crashed a shot off the face of the bar with the keeper beaten. A half-chance fell to Jordan Fraser but the Shiel youngster rushed the shot and sliced the ball high and wide. Moments leter the same player went close.
With 10 minutes remaining Glen pulled in front when Heath delivered a good crossfield pass to Neale Reid on the left, and he lashed it past Kennedy into the net. Straight from the restart Shiel surged forward and a Keith MacRae shot was turned behind by the Glen keeper, but inside 60 seconds the home side were back on level terms once more after Gordy MacDonald showed strength and skill in driving forward and flicking the ball up and over Mackintosh into the net.
Kinlochshiel’s scheduled fixture against Kyles Athletic this Saturday (9th August) has now been cancelled due to bereavement.