SUBSTITUTE Scott MacDonald scored the only goal as local rivals Kyles ended the Bute second team’s one hundred per cent home league record in a closely-contested derby at the Meadows on Saturday.
MacDonald struck in the 71st minute to earn the visitors a win which was probably just about deserved over the 90 minutes against a Bute side who started well but faded somewhat in the second half.
Kyles had inflicted the Bute second team’s last home league defeat way back in August 2010 - an 8-1 win en route to promotion to South Division One.
But having been relegated back to the bottom tier after just one season at a higher level, the visitors were keen to make an early impact - though it was Bute who showed first when captain Neil McKirdy fired just wide from a Calum Hatton through ball in the seventh minute.
The absence of player-coach David MacDonald due to an injury sustained at training forced a reshuffle of the Bute defence, with Duncan Simpson filling in at full-back.
But Bute defended stoutly throughout the first half, ensuring the Kyles players rarely had time on the ball - and on the rare occasions when the visitors did pose a threat in the opening half hour, they were closed down quickly, as when a deflection sent Roddy MacColl’s shot spinning wide of target in the 16th minute.
MacColl managed the notable feat of muscling Simpson off the ball three minutes later in pursuit of possession, but pulled his shot well wide; at the other end Kyles keeper Innes MacDonald had to keep his wits about him to knock Donnie McDermid’s goalbound lob from 40 yards out for a corner.
But the visitors finished the first half well, and Craig Blair sent a shot just wide before Matthew MacColl was denied by a superb one-handed save from Bute keeper John Whitelaw to keep the scoresheet blank at half time.
Adam Stirling’s unstinting efforts in the middle of the park were at the heart of most of the good things from Bute in the first half, and the youngster was in the thick of things again early in the second half, setting Ali Carmichael free for a shot which flew narrowly over the crossbar.
But as the game entered its final third Kyles gradually began to take the upper hand, and Christopher Blair shot just wide before a well-worked move saw David Martin find Matthew MacColl, who picked out MacDonald at the back post - and the substitute gave Whitelaw no chance with a sweetly-strick shot into the roof of the net.
McKirdy had Bute’s only real chance to level the match in the closing stages, but found the angle too tight after he was picked out by a quick free hit in the final minute, leaving the hosts empty-handed and giving Kyles a win which sees the Tighnabruaich men climb to thirdplace in the South Division Two table, behind Tayforth and leaders Lochside Rovers.
* This Saturday, May 12, Bute’s second team take on Aberdour at the Meadows in the first round of the Bullough Cup.
Throw-up is at 2.30pm, and second team squad members should meet no later than 1pm.