Camanachd Leòdhais edged in shinty thriller by the odd goal in seven

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Despite battling hard and being the better side for large spells of the match, Camanachd Leòdhais were narrowly defeated on their visit to a wet Canal Parks on Saturday, Kilmallie winning by the odd goal in seven in an entertaining contest.

Lewis largely stuck with the same team that played the majority of the previous match against Glengarry with the exception of Steven Morrison and Graham Cay who were unavailable. Will Church and Euan Gilmour were the replacements.

Kilmallie were able to settle any pre-match nerves from the get-go as they scored with their first attack of the game. Gilmour initially made a great save but Ross MacKenzie arrowed the rebound into the corner of the net.

Lewis fought back immediately however and were unlucky not to be level when Scott MacLeod’s effort from wing centre clipped the top of the bar. Lewis continued to push the action and as the ball dropped into the Kilmallie box, chaos ensued with Donald Lamont almost scoring. Kilmallie only managed to clear the ball as far as Kenny ‘Duffy’ Murray 25 yards out, the Lewis captain steering the ball through a crowd of players and into the goal to level the scores.

Lewis continued their strong play and almost took the lead but Kyle Michie saved from Church. Kilmallie managed to weather the Leòdhas storm and found themselves in the lead once more. Callum MacDougall, one of two or three players pulling double duty having helped Kilmallie’s first team take another step towards the Premiership in the earlier game, took aim from wing centre with his shot eluding the outstretched hand of Gilmour and finding the net.

Retaking the lead allowed Kilmallie to relax once more and the game became a much more even affair, their full centre Andrew MacAlister’s strong hitting allowing them to move the ball from one end of the field to the other quickly. With ten minutes to go in the half, Kilmallie doubled their lead as MacKenzie’s attempt squirmed through Gilmour’s legs. Kilmallie almost added a fourth but for a fantastic acrobatic deflection by Daniel ‘Gaga’ Gallagher that saw the ball cannon off the post.

The game was now an end-to-end affair with both sides looking to add to their tallies. Lewis had a great chance to make it 3-2 when they were awarded a penalty. Murray stepped up but his penalty was well saved by Michie. Lewis refused to lie down and following a neat one-two with his brother Ally, Donald Lamont fired the ball home and reduced the deficit to one on the stroke of halftime.

The second half continued at a frenetic pace and shortly after Paddy Sinclair made a timely interception to deny Kilmallie a fourth, Lewis equalized. Ally Lamont, not satisfied with only an assist on the day, scored from fully forty yards to make it 3-3.

Both sides were pushing for the win, Kilmallie seeing the ball trickle just past the post with nobody able to get the crucial touch. Lewis were moving the ball quickly and finding space on the wings with Peter Gomez displaying his non-stop motor down the right, blowing past his man time after time and making himself available for a pass. Murray shot wide before having a deflected effort saved by Michie. Michie then did incredibly well to save from Church twice, first with his stick and then with his legs.

It was Kilmallie that scored what turned out to be the winner against the run of play. A corner spilled out to Donald MacRae who needed just a split second to tuck the ball away and make it 4-3, much to the home side’s relief.

Lewis had one more good chance before the final whistle. Gomez found himself in space and volleyed the ball at goal but Michie made another top stop, saving Kilmallie for the umpteenth time and ensuring the Caol side took both points.

Sunday saw a milestone event for the club as Alicia MacSween was selected by the WCA All Stars to take on Lochaber in the National division, the top league in ladies shinty. The All Stars are a select drawn from the lower leagues so it was a tremendous honour for Alicia to be selected and she acquitted herself very well.