West Side FC - Lewis and Harris Football preview

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Last season the West Side dropped two points at home against eventual champions Lochs and all three on their own turf against title rivals Points.

And reflecting on last season West Side manager Murchadh Macdonald reckons it was not winning in front of their own fans against their league rivals which cost West dearly last time out.

He said: “We are all looking forward to the season and we certainly hope to be in amongst things come the end of the season but there are no guarantees. We were in a few finals and we were in the running in the league too.

“But we didn’t take our chances in the home games against our title rivals – that’s what cost us. In our home matches against both Lochs and Point we didn’t make the most of it. “If we had taken the points in them matches we could have fared much better.”

This year’s curtain raiser in the league sees the Broadbay Reds travel to Barvas in a match which Murchadh concedes is a ‘must not lose’ despite it being the first game of the season.

“I would say neither side can afford to lose it,” he said.

“It is two of the so-called contenders and losing against a rival you are struggling and chasing straight away.”

Joining the West Side ranks this year are Ali ‘Bones’ Macleod – now resettled in Lewis after a long period away – and Lewis ‘Preston’ Robinson.

Focusing on the latter and he is a very exciting signing for the West and a player who could make all the difference in tight matches. When Robinson is on his game there are few players like him in the Lewis and Harris league. He scythes through opponents with vigour and relentless energy, often doing so on the brink of reason, a snarling bull terrier of a player who could produce a moment of magic and lung bursting energy at any time.

He joins an already potent attacking arsenal in Barvas which includes the likes of Martainn Shields, Luke Mackay, Ali ‘Barvas’ Macleod and Innes Iain Morrison.

2017 could, and should, be the real breakout season for 17-year-old Mackay. He is extremely direct, quicker than Usain Bolt on a Ducati, and doesn’t pay even the most experienced league defenders even the slightest bit of respect. Teams will gear themselves to stop the likes of ‘Barvas’ and Innes Iain, but Mackay – still just a teenager, just may prove the Siarachs secret weapon this season.

If he weighs in with 10-15 goals and ‘Barv’ and Innes Iain stay hot, West Side could find themselves with another league title.

West Side finished third in the pile in 2016, behind Lochs and Point, but alongisde both those sides, Murchadh is tipping others to be involved in the mix.

He added: “Back had a good finish to the season and they will be pushing on again, I fancy them to keep improving. Every team will give teams a fight and it’ll be good when it gets going.

“People have said Lochs are struggling for fitness and a smaller squad than some other sides but the experience they have will carry them through. Lochs and Point will both be strong and tough to beat.

“Hopefully we will be in the mix.”