’More lift first silverware of the season
RBS MacTavish Cup Final Newtonmore 2 Lochaber 1
A Glen MacKintosh strike with the last hit of the ball earned Newtonmore a 2-1 victory over a gallant Lochaber side in the 2016 RBS MacTavish Cup final at a wet Bught Park on Saturday June 11.
The Inverness Royal British Legion Pipe Band led the teams onto a playing surface which had been well maintained by groundsman Mike MacLeod, who set out a pitch 150 yards long, just five yards short of the maximum length.
Lochaber played with the wind advantage in the first half and there was early work for ’More keeper Owen Fraser when Shaun Nicolson took the ball from Zandz Ferguson and cut in from the left and the goalie saved his shot with his feet before clearing for a corner.
Play switched to the other end and a Norman Campbell freehit found Glen MacKintosh on the right but he took a touch before sending the ball over the bar.
Glen MacKintosh was penalised for bundling Callum MacDonald over after the keeper had cleared his lines but if he thought the challenge would intimidate the young Lochaber goalie, he was mistaken. Lochaber returned to the offensive but Stuart Callison just couldn’t steer a shot goalwards on nine minutes.
Newtonmore broke the deadlock on 27 minutes. Iain Robinson played the ball across from the right and Norman Campbell turned to his left, withheld a heavy challenge from Lachlan Campbell and he showed great strength to continue to hold off the Lochaber fullback before striking the ball low across the keeper into the net to make it 1- 0.
There was no sign of Lochaber buckling though and they drew level just four minutes later. Shaun Nicolson won possession following a Newtonmore shy from their left and he found Zandz Ferguson, who was allowed too much space around 22 yards from goal. Ferguson took advantage and blasted the ball high into the net to make it 1-1.
Newtonmore were stung and they went back up the park but Callum MacDonald dived to his right to save with his caman, denying Iain Robinson, and the ball was scrambled out for a corner as Lachlan Campbell and Norman Campbell clashed.
Lochaber boss Ally Ferguson made the game’s first change late in the first half as Donald MacRae replaced Shaun Nicolson at wing centre.
With just over a minute of the first half remaining, Lochaber goalie Callum MacDonald dived full length to his right to palm a bouncing Evan Menzies shot away following a Craig Ritchie corner from the right and the period finished all-square.
Newtonmore now had the elements in their favour in the second half with the wind, if anything, slightly stronger than during the first period.
Newtonmore came within a whisker of going back in front on the hour when Glen MacKintosh collected an Evan Menzies pass in a central position. MacKintosh had his back to the goal but he turned and unleashed a ferocious shot which cannoned off the junction between post and bar on the keeper’s right side.
Donald MacRae needed treatment after getting a small piece of grass in the eye. Lochaber fitness trainer Jemma Docker carried out the medic duties, and, when the game restarted, a Norman Campbell shot was deflected wide of MacDonald’s right post.
Newtonmore now had a grip on the game as the Lochaber defence worked hard to protect their goal.
A rare Lochaber attack culminated in a Stuart Callison shot from the left which flashed across goal on 75 minutes
It was becoming increasingly obvious that one goal would settle it and ’ More cut open Lochaber as Jamie Robinson slipped the ball to Glen MacKintosh on the edge of the D but Callum MacDonald did superbly well to come off his line and he spread himself to keep the ball out.
It was constant Newtonmore pressure and Lochaber made changes with Brian MacDonald limping off so Barry MacDonald came on in his place with Zandz Ferguson dropping back into defence.
As the game moved into stoppage time, Glen MacKintosh took a Paul MacArthur pass and powered another swerving shot off the bar and the Scotland forward must have wondered if it just wasn’t going to be his day.
The final outcome swung on two chances at opposite ends of the park late into the four minutes of added time.
Lochaber survived a later series of corners and forged an attack of their own. Shaun Nicolson and Stuart Callison worked the ball down the Lochaber right and Ben Delaney took Kevin Ferguson’s pass with his back and, as Newtonmore full back Steven MacDonald slipped, Delaney turned but his shot rose agonisingly over the bar.
It was a chance and Lochaber were made to pay just seconds later as Evan Menzies won the ball on the ’More left following Owen Fraser’s goal-hit. Menzies played the ball forward to Norman Campbell, whose cross ran to Glen MacKintosh in a central position. MacKintosh, with his back to goal, went to turn right before quickly turning to his left and hammering the ball low into the corner of the net, beating keeper MacDonald’s outstretched left foot, to win the cup for Newtonmore.
There wasn’t even enough time for referee John Angus Gillies, who had an excellent first senior final, to restart the game.
Inverness first team manger Drew McNeil, a match pundit for broadcasters BBC Alba, selected Lochaber goalie Callum MacDonald as man of the match and it was hard to argue with his decision. A delighted Newtonmore captain Steven MacDonald was presented with the MacTavish Cup and commemorative caman by sponsors RBS.
Speaking after the match, Newtonmore boss Paul John MacKintosh said: ‘ We’re delighted. I thought the boys played very, very well in the second half. They put in a huge effort and created lots of chances. Lochaber keeper Callum MacDonald made a number of good saves and, on his day, he’s as good as anyone, but I thought our boys deserved it.’
Lochaber manager Ally Ferguson was equally pleased with his team. He said: ‘We had chances in the first half and good spells of pressure which, unfortunately we did not take full advantage of. Despite the pressure Newtonmore put us under, we could have won the game at the death but it’s a team game and I am proud of the team’s efforts. It was a cruel end to the game and I know the players are gutted.
‘ We can take a lot from this experience and continue to work hard and continue to learn and improve in the areas we know we can – in particular, what is in our control. Congratulations must go to Newtonmore though. While I think even they would have thought the final was going to extra time, they knew they were in a game and they were relieved winners in the end. Both teams served up a great match to remember for both sets of supporters and the neutrals.’
A jubilant Newtonmore celebrate after winning the RBS MacTavish Cup. Photos: Neil Paterson
Newtonmore captain Steven MacDonald holds aloft the RBS MacTavish Cup after this team’s narrow 2-1 win over Lochaber.