By Eric Mackinnon
Goathill Park is hosting its very own West Side story this week as the Lewis and Harris games most two westerly clubs clash in the second domestic cup final of 2013.
League leaders Carloway, and winners of the first trophy of the season with the ABC Cup, will square off against the West Side tomorrow night (Friday) in one of the most hotly anticipated finals in recent memory.
The two sides arguably boast the two strongest squads in the league but that can bring its own problems as the more options you have, the more there is to get wrong. And you likely don’t envy gaffers Grant Hunter and Kevin Anderson when they break the news, and break some players’ hearts at the same time. While both have the best squads in terms of depth and personnel in the league it forces both to make big decisions to make going into the final.
Seumas Macleod, Darren Mackinnon, and Kenny ‘Dokus’ Macdonald, all three big game players, started on the bench in Carloway’s last league outing against Aths and all three must be in Anderson’s reckoning for the final.
‘Dokus’ is a game changer and player blessed with two mind-boggingly quick feet who is a guarantee of goals and spectacular play, Macleod has become a Select regular with his all-action, barnstorming performances on the right flank for Carloway. In addition to energetic bursts upfield he is one of the team’s greatest aerial weapons in opposition boxes. Mackinnon meanwhile scored the clinching penalty last season which brought the first silverware in more than half a century to the Carloway sideboard.
Likewise West Side have decisions to make. They boast a plethora of talented midfielders and wingers to try and accommodate across the midfield with the ever-green Dan Macphail, John Campbell, Donald ‘Spike’ Smith, Colin George Morrison, Martainn Shields, Martin Stewart, Ali ‘Barvas’ Macleod, Innes Iain Morrison and Kenny ‘Parry’ Macleod all vying for just five starting jerseys.
And after watching his side’s league challenge hit a serious bump in the road with a lacklustre display, and defeat at Back on Monday, Hunter admitted it had caused him to reassess his thinking and team selection for the cup final.
Both teams will only miss a single player each with West Side skipper Donnie Smith missing out and Carloway keeper David Beaton also unavailable but the latter have cast their recruitment net far and wide to reel in a replacement in former Harris and Glasgow Island No.1 Iain Mackay who is heading home to the isles to fill the gloves.
It promises to be a cup final cracker and any match which pits players of the calibre of Scott Macaulay, Fraser Macleod and Dan Crossley up against Duncan Maclean, Scott Graham and Ali ‘Barvas’ Macleod lights the fuse on on what should be a footballing night to remember.
Jock Stein Cup Final
West Side vs Carloway
Friday, July 5, 7pm.