Bute travelled to the highland capital of Inverness in the knowledge that a win would open up a 4 point gap over their hosts.
The Bught Park has been the site of many a Camanachd Cup final and the lush surface was the epitome of the old shinty adage muttered by many a grizzled veteran: “If you can’t play on this surface then you will never be able to play shinty”.
Inverness began the game slightly on the front foot with the wind at their backs but solid Bute defending from Iain McDonald (back from his holidays up front), Ryan Craig, Chrissy Lawrence and John MacCallum and their tendency to overplay in the final third meant that Kevin Queen in goal was rarely troubled. Bute began to exert themselves on the match with Adam Stirling, James Craig and Leighton Reid taking a stranglehold in midfield and the movement up front from Craig McKay,
Duncan Davidson, Scott Harvey and Gordon McMillan asking questions of the home defence. Bute took the lead when a lob by McMillan from around 40 yards out deceived the home keeper and bounced past him. Bute doubled their advantage 15 minutes later when a slick move down the left involving Stirling, Davidson and McKay found McMillan in space and he unerringly despatched the ball to leave Inverness stunned.
Bute looked like carrying this advantage into the half time break until a cruel piece of misfortune intervened. A speculative shot looked like it would pose no problems for Queen but the bounce just in front of his feet caused the ball to spin and squirm its way into the net.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first with Inverness shading the possession and territory but Bute looking dangerous on the counter. On the rare occasion Inverness were allowed a sight of the goal they found Queen more than able to meet the challenge. The Inverness full forward thought he had tied the game up when a blistering drive looked like it would nestle in the corner however Queen showed remarkable agility to dive low to his right and palm the ball round the post in what should be a contender for save of the season.
Bute looked like being able to withstand everything that Inverness could throw at them (including a swarm of wasps!) however, Inverness finally drew level when the worked a 2 on 1 with the ball being driven past Queen before he had a chance to react. Bute Ben Clarke and Franco Devlin were also brought into the fray as both sides chased a winner and the closest Bute came was when substitute Stewart Stirling hit the base of the post with a low strike.
On balance a draw was a fair result and overall Bute can be happy coming away from a difficult fixture with a point. Bute welcome title chasing Inveraray to the meadows this week in the quarter final of the Macaulay cup. Bute last faced this opposition on the first day of the season when it finished in a goalless stalemate but there is no chance of a repeat of that scoreline as the game is to be played to a finish.