Camanachd Leòdhais remain in second spot in North Division Three despite their unbeaten run coming to an end against Strathspey in Grantown on Saturday meaning they joined Carloway in having suffered an ultimately disappointing 2-1 defeat before sailing back over the Minch on Saturday night.
The park surface at Grantown Grammar School was rather unkempt as Lewis burst out of the traps against the hosts. Innes Lamont returned to the starting lineup replacing Eoghan Stewart who failed a late fitness test, but with Peter Gomez showing well in an unfamiliar role up front, Lewis peppered the Spey area for the first twenty minutes.
However, in a breakaway move Donald Colville slipped away from Kenny Murray and put Spey ahead against the run of play with a cool finish.
Moments later, Donald Lamont scored one of the finest goals in the club’s history, as he collected the ball and from over 40 yards out at an angle smashed the ball past the Strathspey keeper.
From the throw-up, great play by all the forwards gave Lamont what seemed like an almost as fine second, but it was chopped off by referee Robert “Bobo” Morrison for a supposed off-side transgression by Will Church. This disappointment did not put Lewis off their stride and they kep the pressure on for good spell longer.
Daniel “Gaga” Gallagher was an immense presence at buckshee back and Spey shuffled their forwards to try and negate their influence. The Grantown side were inevitably a lesser side without the inspirational Andrew Hay but they started to edge back into the match and finished the first half the stronger side with a flurry of corners.
In the second half, Lewis seemed unable to keep up the intensity of the first half showing at the front, giving the Grantown side time to clear their lines. Spey had a strong phase of pressure but very little troubled Euan Gilmour, as Mark Macdonald and Donald Colville failed to get a clean shot off.
Ally Lamont almost give Lewis the lead as a ball from Conor Macdonald was played into the box but Lamont couldn’t get a stick on the tantalising pass to beat Steven Shand.
Euan Gilmour was lucky not to concede a penalty for a kick when he saved moments later. Strathspey were apoplectic and the referee seemed to make amends by giving a penalty for what seemed like a legitimate two footed save. Ex-Newtonmore star Mark Macdonald scored his second penalty of the season against Lewis to put Spey back into the lead.
Donald Lamont went very close with a fine first time effort soon after but ended up injured and the game started to peter out. A late gamble of throwing Stuart “Tyson” Campbell forward did not pay off but neither team went really close in the last few moments as the game closed out 2-1 to the home side.
Strathspey were mightily relieved with their win and whilst Lewis perhaps did not deserve to lose, they perhaps also did not deserve to win. A failure to build on a very promising first half was their downfall. There were several positive performances but the ability to deliver consistently over 90 minutes is something the team needs to build on.
Na Leòdhasaich now have a couple of weeks off before a visit to newly crowned Champions Caberfeidh, but with a record number of points already in the bag, thoughts can also turn to building on this most successful season so far for next year. The club is looking to build up youth shinty provision in Lochs and Back this autumn, with a mixture of training and competitive games. Please get in touch with the club if you would be interested in helping support this.