ROBERT WALKER’S second half brace wasn’t enough to prevent Bute falling to a 4-2 defeat in their first ever meeting with fellow top flight new boys Kinlochshiel at Balmacara on Saturday.
Captain Walker’s two goals kept Bute in the hunt at 2-1 and 3-2 down – but as the islanders piled on the pressure in the closing stages in search of an equaliser, they were caught on the counter-attack by Duncan MacRae’s 90th-minute clincher for the hosts.
Kinlochshiel won the toss and opted to play up the considerable slope in the first half, a handicap which didn’t stop them dominating for long spells in the opening 45 minutes as Bute struggled with the task of learning exactly what they were up against.
MacRae gave the hosts the lead in the 17th minute, but the visitors’ defence – solid as a rock in the first few weeks of the season – remained steady, with David MacDonald brought in at full back, allowing Hector Whitelaw to be pushed into the forward line.
MacDonald, along with his defensive colleagues Brian Liddell, Iain MacDonald and Robert Ferguson, were a tight-knit unit throughout the afternoon, while stand-in keeper Graham Fisher, again deputising for the suspended Kevin Queen, coped well with Kinlochshiel’s efforts on goal – but he was undone for a second time on 37 minutes, partly by a tricky bounce on a bumpy playing surface, as Neil Fraser gave the home side a 2-0 interval lead.
Walker’s first goal, a beautifully-struck drive from 30 yards, hauled Bute right back into the game ten minutes after the restart – and though Kinlochshiel made the most of the downward slope to reopen their two-goal advantage through Fraser’s second on the hour, the visitors’ belief in their own talents was clear for all to see, and Walker reduced the arrears to a single goal for a second time with another shot from distance midway through the half.
Unfortunately for the islanders, Kinlochshiel soon awoke to the danger posed by Whitelaw up front, and the home side’s tactic of smothering the Bute attacking threat paid off, with the visitors unable to find the equaliser they desperately wanted – and in the final minute the hosts made sure of full points, extending Bute’s winless league run to a seventh game in the process, when MacRae chalked up his second of the afternoon, despite loud appeals by both Liddell and Fisher that the Kinlochshiel man had been offside when the ball was played into the D.
* This Saturday, May 5, Bute travel to Winterton Park to face third-bottom Inveraray in a game which could have much significance in the battle at the lower end of the Orion Group Premiership.
Bute’s second team are back in action this weekend with a home game in Marine Harvest South Division Two against local rivals Kyles Athletic; throw-up at the Meadows on Saturday is at 2.30pm.