Portree played host to a double-header of midweek league football on Tuesday as Portree Juniors hosted Sleat and Strath at the High School and Portree played North West Skye at the KGV – and remarkably both matches were won 5-2 by the away side.
Portree Juniors 2 Sleat & Strath 5
Juniors came into the game having been defeated by the same 5-2 scoreline away at Kyleakin in their last match, a result that possibly flattered the south end side with Juniors being competitive throughout.
Sleat, on the other hand, have won every match they’ve played so far this season and came into this match off the back of a comfortable 5-0 win in the Highland Amateur Cup against Inverness side Highland Athletic.
The first half started in the worst possible way for the home team with Connaire Yoxon striking from outside the box and Juniors goalkeeper Joseph Ferry letting the ball slip through his hands when he should have saved.
This error did not go unnoticed by the Sleat players, who took every opportunity to shoot or cross the ball on top of the keeper.
However, Ferry’s performance improved as the game went on and he managed to produce some good saves to prevent a even greater defeat.
The away team went 2-0 up before half time after a corner was swung in by Ben Yoxon and finished at the back post by Callum Browett.
Juniors’ heads might have gone down at this point but before half time they pulled a goal back through Craig Brown. The hosts then struck the bar with a brilliant shot from range by Angie Macpherson.
Sleat looked uncharacteristically nervous towards the end of the first half and beginning of the second, but scoring when they’re not playing their best football is the mark of a good side.
Sure enough, early in the second half Sleat made it 3-1 after a clever run and neat finish from Dylan Cameron.
Portree Juniors had taken a point from their last home match with North West and they weren’t going down without a fight in this game either.
Angie MacPherson crossed in from a corner and veteran John Murphy headed powerfully home to make it 3-2.
The experienced Murphy was drafted in at centre back and was subbed off shortly after his goal – but how Juniors could have done with the striker in his pomp as they tried to force an equaliser.
As it was, the game stayed at 3-2 and was an even contest until Juniors gave away a free kick in a dangerous position and Cameron MacLeod duly fired it into the top corner.
With the wind out of Ryan Nicolson’s side’s sails the match was sealed when substitute James Robertson, making his first appearance for Sleat for five years, chipped over the goalkeeper and the game finished 5-2 to the reigning champions.
Portree 2 North West Skye 5
This was a match between two energetic teams who like to play football.
The last time the sides met the match ended in a 2-2 draw and in their last two matches the sides had scored 20 times between them, so there was a forecast for goals.
It proved to be correct with the first half alone providing six of them.
North West’s blistering goalscoring form was there for all to see as they raced into a 3-0 lead in the first half, but Portree fought back to make it 3-2 before the half time whistle.
The first half wasn’t finished yet, however, and Portree lost a soft fourth goal as the half came to a close to make it 4-2 in North West Skye’s favour.
The second half saw the pace of the game slow a little, maybe a sign of that fact both teams have played a lot of football recently.
Portree’s entire five-man midfield was made up of 15-17 year olds, hall of whom had played in the under-18’s league play-off with Mallaig last Sunday.
NWS did manage to add one more goal to their tally as Portree pressed for a comeback into the game and the match finished 5-2.
The difference in the two sides was NWS’s front pair of Robbie Cameron, who scored four, and Gus MacDonald, who also scored.
The attackers are showing form that defenders in this league will struggle to live with and manager Graham Campbell will hope both stay fit and available.
Portree replied through a penalty from Ross MacLeod and a volleyed effort from Nick Spencer.
After their opening fixture, when they drew a blank in a 0-0 draw with Portree Juniors, the north end side have looked impressive and if they continue their current form they will be contenders come the end of the season.
Portree have performed well in their matches so far and progressed in the Highland Amateur Cup with a win over Fort William, but Jamie Gannon’s team need to turn good performances into points if they’re to equal or better last year’s fourth placed finish.
WEEKEND FIXTURES: Friday 28TH April GF MacRae Cup, Kyle v NWS (6.30pm).
Sat 29th April, GF MacRae Cup, Portree Jnrs v Kyleakin (2pm); Portree v Mallaig (2.15pm); Sleat and Strath v Fort William (3pm).
Article by DANIEL CULLEN. Pictures, KENNA MACINNES