Saturday 15th October 2016
Newtonmore vs Kyles
Report by The Strathy
'More's penultimate Premiership game was always going to be one of the few which might seriously challenge the team's unbeaten league record. Old rivals Kyles Athletic had held themt o a draw at Tighnabruaich earlier in the season. Worse, with that major wedding on down in Dunblane, the team were no less than seven players short. Kyles themselves had been making noises about team raising difficulties, but in the end, they had seen the opportunity and turned up with pretty much a full squad. So this was to be the real challenge for Newtonmore's up and coming second team youngsters - drafted in to face the mighty Kyles and all to play for. It would be fair to say that they didn't disappoint.
Kyles certainly started strongly and it took only six minutes before the hugely talented Roddy MacDonald opened the scoring for the visitors when a strong shot came in from distance. Keeper Owen Fraser saved well with his feet and the ball bounced up and out just three or four feet, but MacDonald was powering his way in like an express train and the ball appeared to bounce back in off his knee. Kyles were buoyed by the score and proved a real threat as they pressed forward, but Newtonmore coped well and closed them down, though the lion's share of possession for most of the half belonged to Kyles. Against the run of play, however, Newtonmore struck back in the 22nd minute when Fraser MacKintosh lashed home. At this point, the support would probably have settled for the draw to keep the unbeaten run going but the game continued in much the same vein, with Kyles still taking most of the possession, though Newtonmore continued to shut them down and almost unnoticeably came more and more into the game themselves, mounting some excellent attacks, which culminated in a beautifully taken goal from a tight angle by Evan Menzies just on half time to shoot the home side in front.
Into the second half, and it was Newtonmore who went close almost from the off, though still Kyles looked strong, characterised by good clean hitting and strong tackling. Try as they might though, as the half wore on it seemed that although the Blue and Whites had fewer attacks than Kyles, those that they did mount were much more threatening. And it began to look as though this makeshift side was going to put one over on the South's finest, with the home forward line going close several times, including a superb volley on the turn from Fraser MacKintosh that whistled inches past the keeper's right hand post before he could even blink. For all that, though, int he 78th minute, Roddy MacDonald was put through to fire home a late equaliser for Kyles, ensuring that the final 12 minutes or so would be frantic as Kyles, with their tails up, went for the winner. Newtonmore's defefnce coped well and at times had to be uncompromising, leading to the unfortunate Mullender red card for a second bookable offence just four minutes from time. Newtonmore held on, and the unbeaten run remains intact, with just the final fixture, against Skye, in a fortnight's time to come.
In the end, they did struggle and were put under pressure - but no manager would ever wish to have to put quite so many changes in place in one bite, especially given the likely upset tot he side's rythm that so many changes would inevitably bring. The bottom line, though, is that they not only coped, but could also have won the game with a tad more luck and all of the young players who came in were a credit to themselves and their team.
Newtonmore manager PJ Mackintosh wore a satisfied smile as
his under-strength side nearly took both points against
Kyles Athletic. "People talk abuot us having an ageing
side, but they don't see that half our team is around the
24-year-old mark" said Mackintosh. "We've got players coming
through such as Liam Mullender (20) and Craig Ritchie (19),
who played as wing backs against Kyles and were excellent.
Conor Jones was in our attack while Chris Sellar returned
from injury. we don't have a lot to worry about for
the future". The club was less than happy at referee
Innes Wood sending off Mullender late int he game for a
second yellow card. "The second bookign was fair enough"
said Mackintosh "but we thought the tackle that produced the
lad's first booking was fairly innocuous".
Scorers for Newtonmore
Fraser Mackintosh (22) & Evan Menzies (45)