Lochs win clash of the champions

The clash between the Lewis and Harris champs and the champs from Uist and Barra was entertaining.
The clash between the Lewis and Harris champs and the champs from Uist and Barra was entertaining.

Leurbost teenager Calum Macleod picked a perfect day to open his senior Lochs account with a second-half winner which edged the Western Isles clash of the champions in the favour of the Lewis and Harris League champions.

Macleod kept his nerve which slipped in on goal and prodded the ball under the keeper from visiting Barra, reigning champions of the Uist and Barra league, to send Lochs into the first-round proper of the Highland Amateur Cup.

This was Barra’s first ever venture into the Highland Amateur Cup with the mammoth travel distances required in the competition putting them off in the past. This year though they kicked off their adventure with a trip to the Creagan Dubh to play a Lochs side who have lifted the Highland Amateur Cup twice in the past and who have won back to back league titles in Lewis.

Both sides were fired up from the off as neither gave an inch in 50/50 challenges as they battled for every loose ball. Barra were moving the ball around well and looking dangerous on the break. James Davidson had the game’s first sight of goal with a shot which he sent flashing past the right hand post.

At the other end and Lochs took the lead with their first real opportunity as Lewis Mackenzie was left unmarked in the Barra penalty area and afforded all the time and room he needed to tense his neck muscles and firmly steer a free header into the net from Peter ‘Robbie’ Mackenzie’s cross.

The goal came on the back of a period of sustained pressure from Barra in which they had four successive corner kicks which were defended by Lochs.

Lochs could have added a second with a similar chance which came from the opposite flank as Darren Mackinnon whipped the ball over to Craig Maclean who didn’t get over the ball and sent a header from 12-yards well over the top.

Barra’s reaction to losing the goal was good and they continued to press forward in pursuit of a leveller.

Lochs’ defending could have been better as they were caught flat footed by a simple punt up the park which sent Neil Sinclair clean through one on one with James Macleod.

Sinclair dragged his shot wide of the near post although it took a layer of paint off the outside of the post on the way wide.

Lochs failed to heed this warning as they afforded Sinclair too much room just minutes later as he was teed up by Davidson from a well worked throw in with the Barra No.88 drilling into the bottom corner from 12-yards.

There was more frantic end to end stuff in the second half, with Barra now on the back foot as Lochs began the half in the ascendancy. A Ross Allison corner was marginally too high for the unmarked Craig Maclean at the back stick.

Lochs keeper James Macleod made an excellent save to push away an effort from Barra’s No.10 which looked goal bound.

Peter ‘Robbie’ Mackenzie sent a 30-yard shot over the Barra keeper and flush against the crossbar.

The woodwork at the Creagan Dubh may well still be wobbling now as Mackenzie caught the ball sweetly and was desperately unlucky not to see the net bulge.

Lochs weren’t to be denied for long and David Macmillan and Ross Allison combined to feed the ball through to under-18 Macleod who steadied himself and as the Barra keeper raced off his line and a defender charged down on his blind side, he toe steered the ball beneath the keeper and inside the post from 10-yards.

Lochs could have added a third before the end as the ball fell invitingly for Peter ‘Robbie’ in the box but the Lochs stopper didn’t connect properly with the ball which bounced harmlessly into the keeper’s arms.

Lochs will now face Carloway in the first round proper.