Ness see off Lochs in cup cracker

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If you were to jot down the recipe for the perfect cup clash then the odds are this week’s see-saw scrap between Lochs and Ness would have the perfect recipe.

An early goal, missed chances, a red card to the leading side, a goal in the final minute of the game, a see-saw extra-time with two gilt-edged opportunities to win the tie and a penalty shoot-out with the keepers on top form.

Yes, this was a cup cracker and a night when the holders were dumped out despite leading for most of the match.

Lochs manager David Macmillan was disaapopinted his side didn’t convert their chances.

“I thought the start of the second-half we looked the better team,” said Macmillan.

“It had been a scrappy first-half although we had our chances. By the time the sending off came we should have had the game sewn up. I think we had enough chances and Ness didn’t create anything clear cut.

“Following the sending off Ness had all the pressure which was to be expected but we defended very well and played well with 10 men. We were still dangerous and in extra-time we kept it tight for the first period but we went for it in the second period and created another couple of chances.

“We had a wee go in the last ten minutes and pushed another couple of guys a wee bit more forward and Ness looked a bit tired then.”

New Ness gaffer Davie ‘Spider’ Macleod was thrilled to see his young team eventually wear down an experienced Lochs team to level at the death.

“It was special,” beamed Macleod as he reflected on his side’s shoot-out victory over Lochs.

“It was getting very late and you wonder how much huffing and puffing can we do. We did worry it wasn’t going to happen and the pressure told - eventually - and I don’t think anybody can grudge us an qualiser.

“We dominated possession but we didn’t create enough in the final third and Lochs defended well with their experience a the back showing.

“Sweeney, the penalty king, did unbelievably well but shoot-outs can go either way. I was just chuffed to bits to win it. I’m told this was our first away win over Lochs since 2000. We were all delighted. I was going in with a junior and someone who has never played senior football before but they did well and they all did themselves proud.”

Both sides were missing players with Ness without a quartet of regulars including the suspended Jack Dunlop and midfielder Micheil Smith.

Lochs were without their trio of most creative midfielders in player manager Macmillan, Andy Murray and Robert Mackenzie - all to injury.

The Maroons took an early lead through Craig Maclean who headed a palmed clearance from Macsween back into the net.

The Ness keeper lost the flight of the ball in the glare of the sun as he jumped to beat away an Angie Campbell cross and could only parry the ball onto Maclean’s head.

The same player should have doubled his side’s advantage before half-time after a blistering counter attack took him clean through on Macsween one-on-one.

His shot was straight at the keeper who made a strong block before falling again perfectly for Maclean.

Yet with time to pick his spot and just the keeper to beat he again rattled the ball off the keeper’s chest with Macsween not even having to dive.

Ness slowly crept back into the tie and the final 20 minutes of the first-half saw them enjoy lengthy spells of possession but very little threat to the Lochs net.

One sight of goal they did had resulted in Andrew ‘Bubble’ Macleod flicking a shot narrowly past the upright.

The second-half was only minutes old when Angie Campbell earned the freedom of the showers as he picked up a second yellow card and sent off.

Lochs faced some near 40 minutes with 10 men giving Ness control of the match.

Despite bossing the ball for the most part they didn’t test James Macleod with the Lochs centre-backs of Peter Mackenzie and Donald ‘Nomie’ Macdonald doing a great job of keeping the Ness attack at bay.

But in the final minute Ness grabbed a dramatic equaliser when Colin Morrison, making his first start, smashed home from close range on the eve of his 17th birthday.

As the game headed towards penalties Lochs carved out a pair of golden opportunities to win it towards the end of extra-time. The first chance fell to sub Darren ‘Cage’ Wilson who was surprised to see the ball land at his feet in a crowded box and he didn’t react quickly enough to have a go.

The second chance was an even better one as 16-year-old Innes Cunningham laid the ball on a plate for Jim O’Donnell eight yards out. Like Maclean in the first-half, O’Donnell couldn’t make it count as he sliced wide of the target.

In the shootout Scott Macrury saw the first kick saved before Peter Mackenzie rattled the foot of the post for Lochs.

Ness netted their following three kicks while Chris Mackay saw his saved for Lochs, a fate which also fell O’Donnell as Sweeny pulled off a stunning save to see Ness through.