High winds and heavy rain as Lewis Shinty Club return match ends in stalemate
October usually marks the end of a busy season for Camanachd Leòdhais.
In years gone by, they’d have played 20-odd league games, competed for three cups and travelled hundreds of miles.
The season typically culminates with the annual Craig Morrison Sixes in which teams travel to Lewis vying to win the Craig Morrison Shield.
2020 has been anything but a typical year. With the global pandemic preventing teams travelling to the island, Camanachd Leòdhais decided to put on an intra-squad game instead.
The game very much matched the windy conditions, blowing one way then the other, ultimately finishing in a 2-2 draw and both sides sharing the Craig Morrison Shield.
Club captain Donald Lamont took charge of ‘Lewis A’ whilst vice-captain Stuart ‘Tyson’ Campbell led ‘Lewis B’.
‘Lewis A’ had a man advantage on the day but it was ‘Lewis B’ that started the brighter, buoyed by the fact that they had the wind at their backs.
Campbell played in the forward line alongside Duncan MacIntyre and the two were linking up well but were unable to get past Michael MacLeod and Daniel ‘Gaga’ Gallagher in the ‘Lewis A’ backline.
At the other end, Scott MacLeod was starring for ‘Lewis A’ as he drove the team forward.
‘Lewis B’ was well organised though and were limiting their opponents to long range efforts that weren’t finding the target.
It was ‘Lewis B’ that took the lead relatively early in the first half. ‘Lewis A’ were pushing for the opener but a good clearance left the defence exposed. MacIntyre and Campbell played the ball between each other before Campbell was able to work a little bit of space and thumped a low effort past Ciaran Murray to give ‘Lewis B’ the breakthrough.
The goal galvanised ‘Lewis A’ and they began to push ‘Lewis B’ further and further back.
After a sustained bout of pressure, Scott MacLeod drove forward with the ball and uncorked an excellent strike that flew past goalkeeper Willie MacLeod and into the top corner, tying the game at 1-1.
The strong wind was now beginning to work against ‘Lewis B’ as passes into the forward line were drifting long and heading out for bye hits. ‘Lewis A’ on the other hand were able to build from midfield and create chances.
It looked like they were going to take the lead when Stewart MacRitchie looped a long shot goalwards but Willie MacLeod made a good save from his hand.
The pressure continued and ‘Lewis A’ forward Donny Murray was unfortunate to see his shot scuttle just past the post.
Moments later another ‘Lewis A’ forward did well to nick the ball from goalkeeper MacLeod and would have been on the scoresheet but for an incredible goal-line clearance from Peter Gomez.
As the first half was drawing to a close, ‘Lewis A’ eventually got their just rewards.
MacDonald managed to get to the ball a split second ahead of ‘Lewis B’ defender Owen MacKenzie and laid the ball off to Lamont who fired his team ahead with a powerful shot.
‘Lewis B’ were doing well considering that they were playing with one person less but they knew that they were going to have to create more attacks if they were going to get back into the game.
Midfielders Paul Duke and Callum MacRitchie put in a monumental effort in the second half, covering huge ground to try and get their team back in the game.
MacKenzie was also doing an excellent job of mopping up in defence.
‘Lewis B’ were rewarded for their strong start with an equaliser 10 minutes into the half.
Duke had made a surging run in support of his forwards and when a long pass from Callum MacRitchie found him at the back post, he managed to arrow the ball past the onrushing Murray to make it 2-2.
Both teams went in search of a winner as the second half progressed with ‘Lewis A’ carving out the best chances but some fantastic defending from ‘Lewis B’ kept them at bay.
Unfortunately for both sides the weather continued to get worse; the wind was getting stronger and the rain was getting heavier.
With such a strong wind at their backs, ‘Lewis A’ were pouring forward but were met with a team that just refused to yield.
As the weather continued to intensify and with full-time rapidly approaching, the wind knocked over one of the goals.
Referee Henry MacInnes blew for full time and after a quick consultation, it was decided that the weather was too stormy for a penalty shootout and both sides agreed to share the spoils.
Camanachd Leòdhais assistant manager Andrew MacAskill told the Stornoway Gazette: “It was really fantastic to be back.
“It was just so good to have something competitive to play for with a proper referee, proper goals in place and everybody trying hard for something that they know is important to the club.
“It was played in great spirits.
“Everybody really enjoyed themselves and it was wonderful to have it back.
“It ended up a draw.
“We would have had a penalty shootout but the wind and rain was so bad at that point that we just called it a draw!”