THE Orkney Select held their nerve in last summer’s Stornoway Gazette Challenge Cup shoot-out to take the first ever trophy north to Kirkwall at the expense of the Lewis and Harris Select.
But Lewis and Harris Select boss Billy Flower is determined to bring the Stornoway Gazette Challenge Cup back home this Saturday (June 23) when he lets his new brood of high flyers loose in Dingwall.
The Select are heading for the Highlands in top form, just a fortnight after winning the annual Midsummer Tournament in confident, swashbuckling style and having won the Mod Cup last autumn.
Flower has kept his faith with the pool of players who served him so well at the recent Midsummer Tournament which means the Select are travelling with four strikers for the clash with the in-form Andrew ‘Bubble’ Macleod, the local league’s top scorer Scott Maciver, the pacey Fraser Macleod and also the Midsummer Player of the Tournament Scott Macaulay.
In fact from the Midsummer squad there are only two new faces which were forced upon Flower after he lost three players from the trophy winning tournament.
Midsummer skipper Domhnall Mackay, goal hero Peter Mackenzie and defender Andrew Maciver are unable to make the trip to Dingwall which frees up two berths for the returning Stuart and Steven Dunn.
“It was a difficult squad to pick,” confessed Flower. “From a squad of 17 for the Midsummer we are only taking a playing squad of 16 for this game.
“I was very pleased and proud of the way the boys played recently to win the Midsummer Tournament and I firmly believe that I should show loyalty to the boys who played there.
“Domhnall, Andrew and Peter, who all played in the Midsummer final, are all unavailable for this game so it left two spaces to fill. With Graeme Mackenzie still recovering from injury I have decided to call up the Dunn brothers, Stuart and Steven, as replacements.
“It is a young and exciting squad and I look forward to seeing them take on the strong challenge of the Orkney Select on the grass park at Dingwall next week and taking the Stornoway Gazette Cup back across the Minch to sit with the Midsummer Trophy and the Mod Cup.”
He continued: “With Highland Amateur Cup games and Jock Stein Semi-finals to be played before the match, there will be a couple of nervous evenings hoping that the phone doesn’t ring with news of any injuries.
“With Graeme injured and Domhnall unavailable, I have already spoken to Ross Hall and confirm that he will captain the side on the day.”
Last time out it was a sluggish start and a large dollop of bad luck which denied Lewis and Harris the trophy as their sloppy opening spell saw them chasing the game at 2-0 down before being denied a deserved victory by the woodwork no fewer than three times in a stunning second-half comeback.
Recent displays prove that Lewis and Harris’ resolve is not to be questioned at this point as they can mix pretty football with toughness when required.
With the two sides having only ever played once ever before it is hard to make a prediction for the match which once again might require more than 90 minutes to decide. If that’s what it takes, neither will give in but Lewis and Harris have that winning feeling in their bones and they won’t be happy to give that up.
Because there’s nothing like winning a trophy for the first time and getting their name etched on the Stornoway Gazette Challenge Cup.
Lewis and Harris Select: Iain Macleod (Back), Cameron Houston (Lochs), Seumas Macleod (Carloway), Stuart Dunn (Stornoway United), Steven Dunn (Stornoway United), Alasdair Gillies (Point), Stuart Flower (Point), DJ Macdonald (Back), Alasdair Macleod (West Side), Dan Crossley (Carloway), Ross Hall (Back), Martin Maclean (Back), Andrew Macleod (Ness), Fraser Macleod (Back), Scott Maciver (Stornoway Athletic), Scott Macaulay (Carloway).