Connor Howie’s double strike helped Oban Camanachd to a 3-0 victory over Bute’s first team in Rothesay on Saturday to extend the islanders’ winless start to life in the Marine Harvest National Division.
Bute showed much more determination and team spirit than had been evident in their Camanachd Cup loss to Skye seven days previously, though the visitors created most of the first half chances and had cause to curse Bute keeper and captain Kevin Queen for a series of fine stops.
Had the home side reached half time on level terms, the second 45 minutes might have been very different, but five minutes before the break Ian MacMillan’s corner was missed by two Bute defenders and found its way to the unmarked Connor Howie, who slammed home the opening goal.
The heavy rain which fell throughout the game made conditions extremely difficult after half time on a surface which, without careful attention in the week before the match, might not have stood up to the strain of three hours of shinty on a very wet afternoon, Bute’s second team having already played Glasgow Mid Argyll earlier in the day.
But it was the visitors who coped better with the elements, creating the lion’s share of the second half chances - though their second goal was scored in highly controversial fashion, with referee Robert Baxter accepting the indication of the (visiting) goal judge that Howie’s shot had just squeezed past Queen and over the line, despite Bute’s furious protests that it had not.
In any event, Scott MacMillan put the result beyond any doubt with a beautifully-struck drive from distance into the roof of the net 12 minutes from time - and Bute were even denied a consolation when Gordon McMillan’s penalty, awarded after James Craig was tripped inside the D, was superbly blocked by Oban keeper Robert Dunnings.
With the sodden pitch becoming ever more difficult to play on, Baxter blew the final whistle some six minutes early - though having consulted Bute coaches David McVey and Barry Martin reaching his decision, there were no complaints from either team as the atrocious weather showed no sign of relenting.
* Bute’s second team lost 5-2 at home to their Glasgow Mid Argyll counterparts in Marine Harvest South Division Two on Saturday - report on this site on Sunday.