Saturday 4th March 2017
Newtonmore vs Lovat
Report by The Strathy
Newtonmore captain Rory Kennedy said they were delighted to avoid a potential banana skin with a hard-fought opeing day of the season. The Blue & Whites, bidding for an eighth successive top flight title, got off to a flying start with Connor Jones scoring in just the fourth minute at the Eilan. Ian Robinson netted a hatrick with his goals coming in the 54th, 74th and 89th minute to put the visitors - the only team to beat 'More in all competition last season - to the sword. Kennedy said "this was a potential banana skin of a game, but I thoguht we played solidly and limited their shooting changes. Our finishing was excellent and we deserved the win".
Newtonmore manager PJ Mackintosh said "It was a good result against the only team to beat us last season. It could easily have been six or seven, but their keeper Stuart MacDonald made some outstanding saves". Mackintosh said "he was relieved to get the first game of the season out of the way after several pitch inspections on Saturday morning". The rain eased in the early afternoon and the pitch though heavy and holding water in places held out well, but did hamper the flow of the match.
The defending champions got their season off to a wonderful start through Jones early opener. An excellent long hit from David Fraser was flicked on by Norman Campbell and Jones slotted it pas the onrushing MacDonald who had sensed the danger. There were some personal battles going on - not all within the rules - resulting in several bookings. However, it was Newtonmore who had most of the territory and possession.
The second half swung end to end more as Lovat started to come into the game, but it was no surprise when Newtonmore doubled their lead int he 54th minute through Robinson. Not for the last time in the game, Paul Macarthur hit a lovely ball forward over the defence. The young Newtonmore forward made ground in from the right and launched an unstoppable backhand into the left hand corner. Just as it looked like the Eilan side would bury their opponents, sloppy defending undid them. Lovat attacked down the right without looking very convincing. Steven MacDonald, who otherwise did not put a foot wrong, mishit a pushed clearance and the ball broke to Lorne Mackay. He hit a half decent shot that keeper Owen Fraser seemed to see late and it crept in off him for 2-1.
Newtonmore began to dominate again, despite the setback, and MacDonald was forced into two miraculous stick saves. The first was from a drive by Robinson from the right and the second a powerful strike sent in from Campbell from 20 yards out ont he left. But it was only a matter of time before th elead extended and again it was the result of a peach of a lobbed pass onto the keeper by Paul Macarthur - a tactic that has produced several goals in recent years. This time Robinson nipped in between the MacDonald in goal and his marker to slot home his second and Newtonmore's third in the 74th minute. The floodgates did not open though. Again the Newtonmore defence failed to clear properly and the ball broke to dangerman Greg Mathieson in the 79th minute and his shot evaded Owen Fraser in goal to make it 3-2 with just over 10 minutes remaining. But it was not really a nerve jangling end to the match as Newtonmore dominated territory and possession. A good ball out to the left again from Macarthur found new signing from Beauly David Maclean in acres of space with time to place a pass into the centre. Robinson was quick to create some space, turn and wallop the ball past MacDonald for Newtonmore's fourth and his hat-trick in the 89th minute. There was still time for Robinson to fire his easiest change of the game wide before the final whistle.
One negative for the hosts was Fraser Mackintosh having to
leave the field after a nasty bang on the knee, but he
should be available for the away game against Glenurquhart.
Scorers for Newtonmore
Connor Jones (4) & Iain Robinson (54, 74 & 89)