Lochs and West Side win in ABC Semi finals
Although the new season is still in nappies several clubs have been facing severe selection issues - none more so that ABC semi-finalists Lochs and Point.
Hosts Point fielded a pair of fourth year school pupils with a number of their more established players unavailable and they were even without players from their league trip to Back just 72 hours earlier. But manager Angus Mackay hs great faith in the junior players from across the Braighe and they continue to impress.
And Lochs? Well in recent weeks they haven’t just been down to the bare bones, they’ve been sucked dry of all marrow.
They struggled to scrape a team together for the weekend’s Highland Amateur Cup clash with Carloway but in doing so lost further players for the semi-final against Point.
Even a number of players who did turn out were struggling with injury and on another occasion, in another season, wouldn’t even have been stripped.
But needs must and with a place in the final and the chance to try and retain the ABC Cup they won last season on the line they went into battle.
In glorious Garrabost sunshine it was Lochs who marched through with goals from Ross Allison, a first half sub after the barely fit Jim O’Donnell hobbled off within half an hour, and a brace from midfield warrior John ‘Uig’ Morrison.
It was a very youthful Point side who are still patiently waiting for key stopper Elliot Ruddal’s suspension to end and the likes of Rob Jones and Alasdair ‘Wally’ Maciver on the mainland.
They did well with the powerhouse Angus Macdonald helping drive his team mates forward but they couldn’t halt the Lochs progress to the final.
Allison opened the scoring before half-time as he peeled off at the back post to send a header back across goal where it looped off the turf and spun over Ali Gillies’ head on the Point goal line.
Morrison made it 2-0 from the penalty spot for Lochs before Martin Macdonald netted for Point.
Then Morrison sealed it and eased Lochs into the final with a 22-yard drive into the bottom corner.
Awaiting Lochs in the final are West Side in what will be a rerun of the 2018 final after the Siarachs cruised past Athletic 6-2 in Barvas.
Star man for West was Scott Graham who continued his hot scoring form of the new season with a hat-trick.
Martainn Shields had given West an early lead which was cancelled out by Ross Macrae.
Graham headed home his first of the night to make it 2-1 to the home side and it was 3-1 before the break as Johnny Wallace found the net.
Darren Stewart scored to haul Aths back to within a goal and with just nine minutes left to play the tie was set for a grandstand finish.
But a quick fire Graham double took the cup final spot out of reach for Aths as West raced into a 5-2 lead.
Shields then completed the scoring before the end.
Earlier in the week there was a crucial league game down in Upper Coll where Back hosted Broadbay rivals Point.
And only the waving of the assistant referee’s flag denied Back a last gasp goal which would have been a winner against 2018 champions Point in a league cracker.
With their last attack of the match teenage striker Euan Anderson, who had earlier levelled to take the match to 2-2, rose to glance home a Stevie Mutch cross for what he thought was a winner.
But the ball had drifted out of play earlier in the move and the points were instead shared between the Blue and the Red half of Broadbay.
This was the fifth game of the season I’ve taken in so far and easily the best. Both sides played good, positive football and some of the phases of play was superb. There were standouts in each camp but man of the match for me was Back’s young midfielder Mutch.
He is the kind of player who always seems to have time on the ball thanks to his clever movement and first touch and he is already becoming one of the first name’s on the Back team sheet.
Point took a first half lead through Ali Gillies who had the run on Ross Hall from a corner where he rose to powerfully send a header crashing into the net.
This Point side has a physical presence about them which makes them appear more like Superbowl linebackers than defenders with a trio of six-foot plus boys causing carnage on set-pieces and with another giant in Elliot Ruddal set to return imminently, it is a key weapon for the Reds to exploit.
Ross Hall levelled for Back from a corner of their own before the break as Back drew level.
In the second-half Angus Macdonald netted his fifth of the season to restore the Point advantage after a threaded pass from Stewart Munro but Back refused to accept defeat.
Anderson joined the action from the bench and he turned his cameo role into a showstealing one as he netted with what was literally his first touch as he was sent clean through before clipping the ball over Daniel Macdonald from the edge of the box.
Then in the last minute Anderson had the ball in the net only to have his heart broken but both sides will go on to fight another day in the white hot heat of the Lewis and Harris league battle.