Newtonmore retain the Highland Industrial Supplies Sutherland Cup in dramatic fashion

Blairbeg Park, Drumnadrochit, was once again the home of the Highland Industrial Supplies Sutherland Cup Final, a closely contested match that ended in familiar circumstances, Newtonmore lifting the trophy.

Ahead of the match, it is safe to say that Newtonmore were the favourites, the Badenoch side were battling it out for the league title while Lovat sat 3rd bottom and had been on the receiving end of a 7-1 score line the last time the sides met, in the Strathdearn Cup Final that year. Martin MacLean got the game underway in what was a surprisingly warm day for October and both teams stood up to the occasion from the off. Newtonmore with a lot of pressure on the Lovat goal in the early stages but, resolute defending and quick thinking from forward Raymond Rennie led to the first goal of the game for the black and whites. The ball was driven into the Lovat player/manager who flicked it up and knocked it deftly over his head, and that of the Newtonmore full-back, into the path of the onrushing Ryan Ferguson. His first touch invited the Newtonmore keeper to rush out but Ferguson was first to the ball knocking it beyond Jason MacDonald and into the bottom left hand corner.

Ten minutes later and Newtonmore were back in it through Glen MacKintosh, a shie was controlled by the veteran forward who found a half yard and fired it across goal and into Lovat keeper Ronan MacMillan’s far corner. From there, Newtonmore took a foothold in the game and really started to pile the pressure on to the Lovat goal – MacMillan however, pulled off a string of great stops to keep the score level going into the break.

The second period started much the same as the first had ended with MacMillan making another couple of good saves in the opening 5 minutes. Again, against the run of play, Lovat scored to put themselves 2-1 up – Rennie getting a good block in against his man then cracking a shot beyond MacDonald and into the bottom corner.  Newtonmore ramped up the pressure again with plenty of well worked chances, however, they struggled to hit the target and when they did MacMillan was like a man possessed – diverting chance after chance. That was until Craig MacLeod was fouled inside the area, Glen MacKintosh stepped up and cracked one into the back of the net from the penalty spot, 2-2 with 15 minutes left on the clock – squeaky bum time indeed.

Much of the final 15 however, was played in the middle of the park, both teams creating half chances at best and so the game went into extra-time. The final 30 minutes of the game were as frantic as can be with both teams seemingly eager to avoid the lottery of a penalty shootout, you could be forgiven for expecting tired legs to become a factor but both teams battled away with the commitment and desire that you would expect for a game of this magnitude. It fell, in the end to Evan Menzies, who donned the number 4 in tribute to the late Andy MacKintosh, to win the game. His strike from 22 yards out deceived MacMillan and snuck in the keeper’s bottom right hand post. The final 5 minutes after the goal were well contested but Newtonmore saw out a 3-2 victory in what was an exceptional game of shinty from both teams. ‘More Captain, James Ross received the Sutherland Cup from Highland Industrial Supplies Managing Director, Garry MacKintosh. While there is no official man of the match award in the Sutherland Cup Final, the Half-Swing Podcast man of the match was Ronan MacMillan for a stellar performance in nets.