Sleat and Strath 3, Kyleakin 1 (H.T. 1-1)
Sleat and Strath added the second leg of what could yet become another Skye and Lochalsh grand slam as they edged Kyleakin 3-1 in a tightly-fought Ross Cup Final on Saturday.
In a match played at a frantic pace, and in incessant rain, there was very little between the teams throughout. But it was Sleat who made the better of the chances that came their way, with Callum Mattinson the two-goal hero.
The opening exchanges were scrappy and neither side could fashion much in the way of free-flowing football. It was a pattern which would follow for much of the match, but from the first real opening Sleat took a 10th-minute lead.
Kyleakin lost possession after a throw-in, and after a simple thump over the defence Mattinson pounced on the loose ball and coolly lobbed Craig Wilson, the advancing keeper, from 25 yards.
Sleat forced a series of corners in a push for a second goal. But Kyleakin eventually settled and momentum was with them for the final 20 minutes of the half. A Norman Gillies pass sent Calum Nisbett clear on the right, but the midfielder opted to pass when a shot might have been the better option.
Craig MacKinnon then came close to setting up an equaliser with a strong run and a low cross which narrowly eluded Innis Thompson.
But just before the interval Kyleakin did get back on terms when, amid a scramble in the box, Thompson and Stuart Gillies both went close before MacKinnon eventually forced the ball home from close range.
At the start of the second period Sleat again went on the attack, and there were strong penalty claims waved away for challenges on Ben Yoxon and Gordy McCarroll.
It was a match in which both defences shone, with Duncan James and Chris MacLennan playing well for Kyleakin, while at the other end Jamie Graham and Sandy MacAskill weren’t giving much away in front of Sleat stand-in keeper James Munley.
Both goalkeepers also showed impressive handling in the tricky conditions, with Munley doing well to beat out a low Norman Gillies free kick and Craig Wilson also dealing well with what came his way.
In what was always a tight contest it was no surprise to see a set-piece proving decisive, as Sleat took the lead just before the hour mark. A free kick from the right was only partially cleared, and in the resulting melee Ben Yoxon applied the final touch to put Sleat in front.
Soon afterwards Sleat thought they had gone further ahead when Mattinson arrowed home from an acute angle, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.
Back came Kyleakin, and Stuart Gillies and then substitute Gavin Finnie had chances when sent clear on the left — but both times, from similar positions, they were unable to find a finish.
Kyleakin would end the match with Norman Gillies in attack alongside three other strikers, but that equalising goal proved elusive. The outcome was settled with a minute left when Scott MacKinnon made a burst from the left and unselfishly pulled the ball back for Mattinson to make it 3-1.
The Ross Cup now sits alongside the GF MacRae Cup in the Sleat trophy cabinet, and with the Kinloch side four points clear at the top of the table, they look well placed to add the league title in the coming weeks.