Camanachd Leòdhais travelled to Lochcarron on Saturday looking to bounce back from their opening day defeat to Caberfeidh. Despite a much-improved performance and more attacking impetus, it was Lochcarron that ran out 2-1 winners.
Captain Kenny “Duffy” Murray, playing against his hometown team, was installed at fullback for the game with Lewis opting to go with Graham Cay in goals and a south formation up front. Lochcarron, who were looking to avenge a 3-2 defeat to Lewis in the preseason, began the game the hungrier of the two sides and created several early chances. Lewis were struggling with Lochcarron’s pace in attack and the pressure eventually told with Liam Arnott getting on the end of a forward ball and giving the hosts the lead on twelve minutes.
Lochcarron’s early dominance continued with full centre Crisdean Finlayson and half forward Nick Dalgety looking particularly menacing. Within ten minutes of the opening goal, they had won themselves a penalty. Dalgety stepped up to take it and whilst Cay managed to get something on it, the shot had enough behind it to double Lochcarron’s lead.
This prompted Leòdhas manager Duncan MacIntyre to make a couple of changes in an attempt to get back into the game. Innes Lamont replaced Conor MacDonald at wingback whilst Paddy Sinclair and Paul Duke swapped positions; the former moving from half forward into full centre to try and negate the influence Finlayson was having on proceedings.
The changes brought the islanders to life as they began exerting some pressure with Will Church flashing a couple of shots wide of goal. It certainly wasn’t all one-way traffic however and Lochcarron were creating chances themselves, one in particular producing a tremendous stick save from Graham Cay. Following on from another Cay save, Lewis counter-attacked and found themselves with a three-on-two opportunity but they were unable to exploit the advantage.
Buoyed by their finish to the first half, Lewis came out of the traps quickly in the second period. Paddy Sinclair was controlling the centre of the park and Paul Duke at half forward was able to knock some good balls into the danger area. Scott MacLeod had a couple of early chances but found his shots blocked or wide of the target.
Lochcarron continued to be a potent threat going forward. Lochcarron captain Finlayson had now pushed up to half forward but Lewis halfback Seumas Charity stuck to his task well and matched Finlayson stride for stride. The defending was stellar from both teams at this point, with David MacCuish marshaling the Lochcarron backline and Lewis captain Murray’s significant reach advantage allowing for vital interceptions and clearances, ably supported by Innes Lamont and Michael MacLeod at the wingback positions. Both teams continued to press but neither could fashion many clear-cut chances.
As the game entered the dying stages, Lewis began pushing more heavily for a way back into the game. With less than five minutes remaining, Paddy Sinclair delivered a delightful ball into the Lochcarron danger area. Scott MacLeod drilled a shot at goal and forced the goalkeeper into a save before Paul Duke rushed in, getting to the ball first and making no mistake as he reduced the deficit to 2-1.
The final few minutes saw an onslaught on the Lochcarron goal as Lewis tried to create an opportunity to force an equalizer. That opportunity came at the death as Will Church looked to turn his man and size up a shot from close range. As he turned, there looked to be contact from the defender and Church lost his balance and went to ground. The Lewis players appealed heartily for a penalty but were left dejected as they watched the referee wave for play to continue. Shortly thereafter the referee brought the pulsating affair to a close.
Lewis will be heading to Farr this Saturday to take on Boleskine. Last year’s fixture ended 3-1 to Lewis. To enjoy live updates from the game, please follow the club on Twitter @lewiscamanachd