Bute Shinty Club’s first team made an encouraging start to life back among the sport’s top flight on Saturday with a 1-1 draw away to Fort William.
New Bute captain Robert Walker gave the island team the lead two minutes into the second half in the first round of fixtures in the Orion Group Premiership, but the home side, despite losing several players to retirement over the winter, were always going to be a tough nut to crack, and Bryan Simpson found the net five minutes later to ensure a share of the spoils.
Meanwhile, two late goals sent Bute’s second team tumbling to defeat on Saturday as local rivals Col-Glen chalked up a 3-1 win on the opening weekend in Marine Harvest South Division Two.
Ali Carmichael opened the scoring for Bute midway through the first half, finishing a mazy run through the Col-Glen defence with a neat finish past keeper Euan Harrison, but the hosts gradually took control of the game and levelled nine minutes later, Norman MacDonald firing home after Bute keeper John Whitelaw saved Stevie MacKellar’s effort.
With the wind at their backs after the break, Col-Glen saw much more of the ball in the second half, but the Bute defence, marshalled well by coach David MacDonald at full back, were rarely troubled.
However, an untidy goalmouth scramble 12 minutes from time ended with MacKellar bundling the ball past Whitelaw to put Col-Glen in front, and three minutes later Iain MacKellar made the points safe for the hosts with a smart finish into the top corner of the net.
* Elsewhere on Saturday, the Premiership’s big headline makers - for all the wrong reasons - were the Badenoch ‘big two’, who both fell to surprise defeats on home soil on the opening day.
Champions Newtonmore began the defence of their title with a shock 3-1 home defeat to Lovat, for whom Greg Matheson hit a hat-trick in the first 26 minutes, while Kingussie were beaten 5-3 at home by the Premiership’s other new boys, Kinlochshiel, Finlay MacRae also netting a hat-trick.
Glenurquhart beat Kilmallie 3-2 at Drumnadrochit in the day’s only other Premiership game; the south derby match between Inveraray and Kyles Athletic was postponed.
In South Division Two, meanwhile, Ballachulish began with a 1-0 home win over Ardnamurchan, while Lewis MacNicol scored twice in Inveraray’s 3-1 win away to Glasgow Mid Argyll.
Brian MacCallum netted a late winner to give Lochside Rovers a 3-2 home victory over Kyles Athletic, while Tayforth had a 2-0 win at home to Aberdour.