Lewis and Harris FC have another semi-final place assured after a hugely comfortable six-goal thrashing of Lossiemouth in the Football Times Cup.
The Hebridean side thundered into the game and into so many challenges that Lossie were no match and no challenge. By the time the dust had settled, it was Kevin Anderson’s men, who were marched into the final four where they will face Thurso.
At times this became something of a training match with the Lewis and Harris players being afforded so much time on the ball. The biggest concern for Anderson will be the profligacy of his side who missed more chances than a tee-totaller at a wine tasting session.
In the first-half alone they could, and undoubtedly should, have been out of sight. Coming off the back of a stunning domestic campaign in which he finished as top scorer with some 34 goals, Jim O’Donnell was in confident mood but he could have had three or four goals himself in a dominant opening 45.
But O’Donnell was denied by both the goalkeeper and on other occasions by wayward finishing in which he dragged one on one opportunities wide of the goal. Scott Graham was also guilty of squandering clear sights of goal while David Macmillan and Ali ‘Barvas’ Macleod also had chances.
Outside the box though and Lewis and Harris played a match of high-powered pressing, movement and quick passing which left a young Lossiemouth side on the backfoot throughout.
The Lewis and Harris attack were pouring forward incessantly but they were unable to make any of their chances stick – much to the despair of Anderson on the touchline who continued to urge his side to stay focussed and that the goals would come.
On 31 minutes though they were almost left to rue the cost of their wastefulness as Lossie launched a speedy counter attack down the right flank, a long ball speared to the left winger who rolled it back to their centre midfielder who had been left completely unmarked on the edge of the box.
Controlling the ball well he sized up James Macleod’s goal before steering it narrowly wide of the upright.
It was a huge let off for Lewis and Harris who had been so on top but could have fallen behind completely against the run of play.
The close call proved to be the scare they needed to regain their focus and finally find a way past the in-form Lossie keeper.
Macmillan whipped a corner kick in towards the near post where Andrew Murray made a run across his marker before flicking the ball into the net with his heel for a smart finish.
Graham blazed a volley over the bar after Peter Mackenzie and Ali ‘Barvas’ had combined well as the sides went in for the interval with just a single goal between them.
At half-time in Invergordon, Lewis and Harris were just a goal up but they were far from short of ideas or confidence. By full-time, the only surprise was that they hadn’t won by more than six. There is a real belief in this team and a compulsion to keep attacking regardless of what happens. If the opposition score a goal, Lewis and Harris believe they will score; if they score two then L&H would have netted three.
They doubled their lead within minutes of the restart when Ali ‘Barvas’ Macleod danced round the keeper who was left stranded on the edge of the box before the Lewis and Harris winger lofted a Phil Mickelson-esque sand wedge up and over the retreating keeper and defender to give O’Donnell an open goal to head into from four-yards.
Stopper D.I Maclennan leapt like a salmon in the Creed to soar above a sea of Lossiemouth defenders to head home a third from Murray’s cross.
It was all one-way traffic again as Lossiemouth struggled to live with the islanders who were playing at pace.
Alasdair ‘Wally’ Maciver and Luke Mackay were sent into the action by Anderson with O’Donnell and ‘Barvas’ taking a well earned breather.
And Wally was instantly involved and on the scoresheet as he raced away up the right to latch onto a long pass from Murray. The diminutive attacker allowed the ball to bounce before steering it with the inside of his foot over the keeper, who was off his line, and into the net for 4-0.
Lossiemouth just couldn’t get close to Lewis and Harris and, on the rare occasions they did, they were overpowered.
Centre-back Elliot Ruddal broke out from defence with the ball to run unchallenged to the edge of the Lossie box before his shot was deflected onto the roof of the net.
Angus Macdonald and Kenny ‘Dokus’ Macdonald were the next pair sent on from the bench with the former rising to the occasion with a fantastic cameo appearance which can only described as a tiger in a tank. Just simply unstoppable.
Slotting in at left-back the 17-year-old played more like an inside-left forward with so many rampaging runs up the flank. Lossie had no answer to his pace, power and direct running.
Within a minute of coming on he carved out a golden opportunity for Graham with a run and cut back which his team mate steered well over the bar from 10-yards.
Macdonald launched another purposeful gallop minutes later and this time his pull back found fellow teen sub Luke Mackay who fired the ball into the net via a nearby defender.
There was still time for one more goal for Lewis and Harris as ‘Wally’ nutmegged one defender on the right before poking the ball though a second defender’s legs and then touching the ball to the touchline for Mackay.
He in turn fired the ball across the face of goal where the arriving Graham turned the ball in at close range for 6-0.
Kenny ‘Dokus’ Macdonald went close in the final minute with a low shot which was turned round the post by the Lossie keeper, who had a very good match despite picking the ball out of his net six times.
All 16 players who pulled the light blue shirt of L&H over their head played enormously well but worthy of specific praise are players of vast opposites - a speedy trickster and the more stately presence, the wide-boy who turned his marker inside out so many times he will still be seeing double and a stopper rapidly rising to becoming the best in the island business.
Ali ‘Barvas’ Macleod was immense throughout his time on the park, twisting and turning like a six-foot tornado on the flank while Elliot Ruddal was an oasis of calm in defence.
The duo excelled in their respective roles while Angus Macdonald and Luke Mackay were the pick of the subs.
The travelling islanders are now just 90-minutes away from a second successive cup final with the side for manager Anderson who was unfortunate to lose the Jock Mackay Cup earlier this year on a penalty shoot-out.
Lewis and Harris FC: James Macleod, Gordon Campbell, Domhnall Mackay, Elliot Ruddal, D.I Maclennan (Angus Macdonald), Ali Macleod (Alasdair Maciver), Peter Mackenzie (Donnie Smith), Scott Graham, David Macmillan (Kenny Macdonald), Andrew Murray, Jim O’Donnell (Luke Mackay).