Lochs reach Jock Stein Cup final as United’s 43 year wait continues

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Stornoway United players and supporters haven’t enjoyed the optimism, excitement or glory of a senior cup final in Lewis and Harris football now for 43-long years.

Not since they lifted the Lewis Cup in 1976 have they even reached an island cup final and their wait now goes on after the town side slipped to a 1-0 defeat in Monday night’s Jock Stein Cup semi-final.

Having seen off Carloway in the last round and playing an out-of-sort Lochs team who are knee deep in transition, this was a golden opportunity for the town Tangerines to bust that four decade long curse.

They had chances to book their place in a long overdue cup final, none more so than top-gun Hamish Macdonald who saw his penalty kick saved by James Macleod in the second-half which would have taken the tie to extra-time.

It was a scrappy affair with both sides by passing their midfield and going long and chances were few and far between.

United did fashion the first real opening as the ball broke to Macdonald on the edge of the box but he waited too long to try and get his shot away and he was smothered by a sea of blue shirts - Lochs were debuting a new sky blue away kit.

Ross Allison tried his luck from 18-yards after Jim O’Donnell’s energetic harrying of the United defence saw him block a clearance and win possession deep in the United half.

Lochs did have the ball in the net before the break but the near side official’s flag saw the goal ruled off for an offside decision.

The first-half ended as it began with a good chance for United going begging. This time the Lochs defence all went to sleep as Chris Adams raced through unnoticed to latch onto a through ball. James Macleod raced off his line but Adams had time to lob the ball over the keeper but it bounced over the bar.

It was a miss which the hosts were left to rue as they fell behind early on in the second half as O’Donnell rose to meet a floated free kick which his forehead which he guided inside the far post for the opener.

Ross Allison also had a headed chance but he couldn’t find the target before Lewis Mackenzie also fired wide for Lochs who had grown into the game in the second-half.

United needed some inspiration to spark a way back into the match and it arrived when Ally ‘Tolsta’ Maciver handled the ball in the box leaving ref Andrew Macaulay with no option but to point to the spot.

Hamish Macdonald already had nine goals to his name this season and is second in the running for the Golden Boot but from the spot he has had his issues and he recently saw a penalty saved in his side’s Highland Amateur Cup defeat against Ness.

He placed the ball and opted for power over accuracy as he drove his laces through the ball.

James Macleod had opted to stand up tall and the ball flew towards him and he thrust a strong wrist upwards to push the ball onto the crossbar and the retreating Lochs defence mopped up the rebound.

The closing stages saw United pour forward but they couldn’t create any real clear sights of goal.

So Lochs, who have consistently inconsistent in 2019 in terms of form, results and team line-ups, have their second cup final of the season secured at the expense of a side without a cup final in 43 years.

In the final Lochs will now play Stornoway Athletic who edged Point 3-2 in Garrabost with two of the Aths goals coming from ex-Reds.

Former Point players Sean ‘Bayble’ Macleod and Jason Guilmartin both netted to bite the hand which once fed alongside another strike from Shaun Martin.

Elliot Ruddal and Stewart Munro grabbed the goals for Point but it is Aths now who will have a 90-minute shot at island football glory in the Jock Stein final on July 5.