The ongoing episodic saga between West Side and Point continued as the second of possibly FOUR blockbuster clashes between the two for three pieces of silverware continued at the neutral Creagan Dubh.
After last week’s league match between the table’s top two the spotlight switched to the Moldova Lewis Cup Final, with the Co-op Cup Final due to be played this Saturday and a potential league title play off looming on the horizon too.
Both sides were missing some familiar faces with Point without stopper Ali Gillies but West Side were without five regulars and four who have been on every team sheet this season in skipper Duncan Maclean, Donnie Smith, the free scoring Scott Graham, Robert Shirkie and the veteran Dan Macphail.
In their place West Side gave a start to youngster Tam Maclennan while they fielded an unfamiliarrr back three of Johnny MacLeay, Callum Vann and Johnny Wallace.
And it was the teenage Maclennan who almost broke the deadlock in the opening few minutes with a brave header which crashed off the crossbar before being booted up the park by the Point defence.
It was a cagey start from both sides with West Side shading more of the play but it was the Red half of the Moldova Lewis Cup final who were cheering as they took the lead with their first shot on goal of the match.
Point defender Elliot Ruddal was credited with the goal but he owed an assist to both Lady Luck and the boot of a West Side opponent as his speculative drive from the edge of the box looped off a West Side man’s despairing attempt at a block and flew inside David ‘Lurch’ Murray’s post for the lead.
Point should have doubled their lead 10-minutes later when a cross from Alasdair ‘Wally’ Maciver was knocked down in the box and fell perfectly for the arriving Rob Jones who side footed the ball over the bar from eight yards out.
It was a miss which came back to haunt Jones and Point as West Side drew level with a goal which will haunt kid keeper Daniel Macdonald.
The young keeper has been superb all season long for Point in his maiden senior campaign and he has a big future in island football but he was at fault for West’s leveller.
He has a preference when knocking the ball up the park from his possession to toss the ball a few yards in front of him before striding onto it to knock it long from the turf.
This time Ali ‘Barvas’ Macleod showed superb anticipation and predatory instincts as he spun to wards goal when Macdonald threw the ball down.
As luck would have it he threw it slightly too far and Ali won the foot race with the keeper for the ball, skipped round him and fired the ball into the net from an angle despite a sliding attempt at a goal line block from Ruddal.
West Side then took the lead with ‘Barvas’ again proving to be the thorn in the Point side.
Point could and should have made it harder for his second goal as they had enough bodies back and around them to shackle and block. Instead, it was too easy for the winger to stroll into the middle of the box unchallenged to turn in from close range after Daniel Macdonald had made a good save to parry a fierce strike from Gordon Campbell back out into the box.
The first-45 was turning into the Ali ‘Barvas’ show and he was involved again before the break as he won a free kick right on the painted line of the 18-yard box after stopping to head the ball, he won a free kick for a high boot challenge from a Point stopper prompting furious demonstrations from the Reds camp.
The second-half saw Point sent a series of corners into the West Side box but their traditional aerial prowess with the likes of Ruddal, Josh Smith and Angus Macdonald bore little fruit with ‘Wally’s corners floating over in the main rather than being fizzed in at pace.
‘Wally’ did pick out Ruddal with one superb delivery which Ruddal met with a full blooded connection but his header flashed wide.
Point continued to try and pick the West Side lock but instead they found themselves 3-1 down after more intricate work from who else but that man from Barvas.
The electric Ali ‘Barvas’ picked the ball up 25-yards out and showed great footwork to create a big enough pocket of space to get the time to lift his head and spot a run off the last defender by Luke Mackay.
The ball was threaded through to Mackay who put his laces through the ball and drilled it past Macdonald to give West a two-goal cushion in the battle for the Moldova Lewis Cup.
As the time ticked towards the 90th minute and the blue ribbons were being fastened to the trophy Point almost set up a grandstand finish with a pair of last gasp efforts to pull a goal back.
Angus Macdonald thought he had scored with a shot which was deflected inches over the top before the resulting corner was hacked off the line by Alex John Morrison as Point finished the match on the front foot.