Camanachd Leòdhais were once again on cup duty this week as they travelled to Kiltarlity to face last year’s North Division Two champions Lovat in the Strathdearn Cup.
Lewis put in a strong performance but Lovat’s good start to life in the division above continued into the cup and three goals in the final ten minutes saw them run out 6-1 winners.
A fall whilst on holiday for Lewis manager John MacAskill left him with ligament damage and the club with a void in between the sticks. Thankfully for the island side, Dougie Shaw returned from a hiatus from the game to play in goal. With Ryan Symonds away on his travels, Daniel ‘Gaga’ Gallagher moved to fullback, Paddy Sinclair slotted into wingback and Callum MacRitchie came in at wing centre.
Lovat had their usual squad packed with experience. Top scorer so far in North One this season and in North Two last year, Raymond Rennie started at full forward, ably supported by Martin Bell and Lewis Tawse. Ryan Ferguson played at full centre.
The first twenty minutes saw a lot of Lovat pressure as they looked to try and put the game to bed early. The Lewis defence was proving to be resolute however as Gallagher and Sinclair, along with Innes Lamont and Michael MacLeod, were making life very difficult for the forward line. Scott MacLeod was also doing an excellent job of nullifying the threat of Ferguson in the middle of the park. Lovat had plenty territory but were unable to fashion many clear-cut chances and Shaw was saving the shots that did find the target.
Lewis settled shortly thereafter and had a good spell of pressure for the next ten minutes. Paul Duke was playing well at wing forward and playing some good balls into the danger area. Despite a succession of corners and shots from Donald Lamont and Stuart ‘Tyson’ Campbell, they were unable to find a breakthrough.
Instead it was Lovat that broke the deadlock ten minutes from the half. Ferguson capitalised on a mistake in the Lewis midfield, collecting the ball and driving forward before ultimately smashing a fantastic effort into the top left-hand corner that gave Shaw no chance.
It wasn’t until just before hour mark that Lovat began to get a stranglehold on the game with two quick goals. Firstly, Bell was quickest to arrive to a loose ball near the penalty spot, firing a backhand into the net. Lovat then made it 3-0 moments later as Laura Gallacher’s smart turn and shot across goal found the right side of the post.
Lewis found a way back into the game on 65 minutes from a set play. Campbell won a free hit 20 yards from goal before playing a short pass to a marauding MacRitchie who was having an excellent game at wing centre. MacRitchie played a dangerous ball into the ‘D’ that Donald Lamont pounced on, ensuring his goal-a-game average for the season would not be affected.
Lewis almost got within one with fifteen minutes to play when Peter Gomez pinched the ball off a Lovat defender and raced towards goal but he was handicapped by an onrushing defender and pulled his shot wide.
The influential Rennie had been kept relatively quiet throughout the game but made it 4-1 after eighty minutes with a trademark strike. Lewis brought on a couple of youngsters for the remaining minutes before Rennie bagged another two as the game wound down, completing his third hat-trick for the club in just the last four games.
With cup action now in the rear view mirror, Lewis will turn all their attention to the league.
Traditionally, May sees the beginning of the club’s slate of home games and this year is no different.
The home opener will be against Boleskine on 11th May at the pitch in Shawbost.
Throw up will be at 2:30pm.