“The league is not over yet, by any stretch of the imagination,” stressed Lochs boss David Macmillan after helping steer his side to a 2-0 win over title rivals Point and reclaim top spot in the pile.
With just two matches left to play in the league season Lochs have their destiny in their own hands and regardless of what any other side do, Lochs will be crowned league champions IF they win their remaining fixtures.
Ness, on Monday, August 17, and Back, on Monday, August 24, stand between the maroons and an eighth Lewis and Harris league title – a title which would be their first since 2010.
But boss-in-boots Macmillan insists his side are taking nothing for granted ahead of another nervy 180-minutes of league action.
“Back and Ness won’t be easy for us at all and anything can happen in football but there is no doubt we are in control now,” he said.
“But we have been in this position before at the top of the league but we then lost at United.
“It was a tight game against Point but we deserved to win especially based on our second-half performance.
“At half-time I spoke to the boys and told them we needed to be more confident on the ball as we had given a lot of scrappy balls away in the first-half. Bringing on Robert Mackenzie also gave us the boost we needed.”
Lochs dominated possession in each half at the Creagan Dubh but while they enjoyed long spells with the ball in the first-half, it was outside the Point penalty area with the Reds defence happy to sit back and let them have it at distance.
Alex Wright was rarely troubled with one early stop from Macmillan his only save of note.
At the other end Stewart Munro produced a sublime swivel of the hips turn to spin in behind the Lochs defence for a shot at James Macleod but the home keeper had raced off his line to close the gap well.
The second-half saw Lochs swarm forward with an added verve, vigour and hunger, pinning Point back relentlessly.
Macmillan arrowed a half volley a foot wide of Wright’s left-hand post before the same player forced a flying stop from Wright with a deflected shot which was zeroing in on the bottom corner.
From the resulting corner Rob Jones cracked the underside of the crossbar much to relief of the Reds bench who knew a draw would leave their side in the box seat for the title run-in.
Lochs continued to pour forward with Angie Campbell next to be left frustrated by Wright who flung himself full length to palm away a 20-yard drive.
Wright was proving to be in imperious form but his next save, probably the best of the lot, was snatched off him by the referee who didn’t notice his fingers pushing Macmillan’s freekick onto the crossbar and over the top with a goal kick given.
Finally Lochs’ pressure told and they took the lead on 70-minutes when Andy Murray stormed forward from right-back and fizzed in a cross for Jim O’Donnell who craned his neck to thunder a header into the roof of the net.
Any hopes of a Point revival were extinguished within three minutes as Lochs won a spot-kick when Johnny Smith went down under a sliding challenge by Stuart Flower.
Sub Robert Mackenzie took the penalty and confidently swept the ball home to take Lochs back to the top of the league.
Point assistant Willie Macaulay said: “I think Lochs deserved to win as they played the better football. We didn’t test their keeper enough and we had two or three guys who weren’t at the races really.
“We came sixth last year, so to have won a cup, be challenging for the league title and already be in another cup final shows the progress we’ve made. This was a wee set-back on what is hopefully a long road for our very young team.
“Nothing is decided yet and in football anything can happen, although Lochs are looking very good, even better than they did earlier in the season.”