HECTOR WHITELAW’S hat-trick secured a 3-1 extra-time win for Bute at home to Oban Camanachd in the quarter-finals of the AJG Parcels Celtic Society Cup on Saturday.
Whitelaw was moved from full-back into the forward line after an hour of the tie – and the move paid off as a Bute side who had struggled at times against their in-form visitors finally pulled away.
The visitors made a bright start and took a deserved lead four minutes before half time when Malcolm Clark drilled an Aidan MacIntyre lay-off past Bute’s stand-in keeper Graham Fisher, deputising for the suspended Kevin Queen.
Coach Barry Martin opted for a reshuffle with half an hour to play, bringing off Roberto Zavaroni and introducing David MacDonald at full back, with Whitelaw pushed forward to give Bute more of a presence up front.
But it wasn’t until the 79th minute, and after a series of good chances had been missed by the hosts, that Whitelaw finally levelled the tie, seizing the loose ball after a Gordon McMillan corner was deflected into the air and burying his shot past Camanachd keeper Robert Dunnings.
McMillan struck the post from a Whitelaw cutback as Bute came close to a late winner, but the home side finally took the lead four minutes into extra time when Whitelaw latched on to Robert Walker’s fine cross to the back post – and six minutes later a free hit into the penalty area was held up well by McMillan for Whitelaw to lash home a low shot to complete his hat-trick and Bute’s victory.
Bute will now take on Inveraray at Winterton Park in the competition’s last four after the Argyll side’s 1-0 win at home to Kyles Athletic on Saturday.
The other semi-final will be between Aberdour and Taynuilt – the Fife club owed their 1-1 draw away to Kilmory to Cameron McCue’s 89th-minute equaliser before going on to win 2-1 on penalties, while Taynuilt had a 3-2 home win over Oban Celtic.
* Hector Whitelaw wasn’t the only Bute player to notch a hat-trick on Saturday: his feat was matched by Tom McMillan, who found the net three times in the Bute second team’s 5-0 home win over Inveraray in Marine Harvest South Division Two.
All the goals were scored after half time, with McMillan rounding off a good passing move to open the scoring in 55 minutes before pouncing on a rebound to double the lead just two minutes later.
McMillan completed his treble in 76 minutes, again netting the rebound after a shot was blocked, before Neil McKirdy’s deflected effort made it four; Craig McFarlane completed the scoring four minutes from time with help from a McKirdy assist.
* Next Saturday, April 28, Bute’s first team are away to Kinlochshiel in the Orion Group Premiership; the Bute second team have a home fixture against local rivals Col-Glen in Marine Harvest South Division Two.