Bute Shinty Club’s second team battled their way to a well-deserved point from a fiercely-contested 90 minutes against local rivals Col Glen in Rothesay on Saturday.
The island club had fallen to a 6-0 defeat on the teams’ last meeting in Glendaruel on April 5, but the big strides Bute have made in the four weeks since then were clear for all to see in the rematch.
Much of the focus - at least among Bute’s supporters - before the game had been on the return to Rothesay of Neil McKirdy, who moved from Bute to Col Glen just after the start of the season, but in the first half at least, both McKirdy and his Col Glen team-mates were subdued by a Bute team determined to build on wins over Ballachulish and Aberdour in their last two matches.
Tom McMillan gave Bute the lead on 19 minutes with a sweetly-struck shot after a Scott Dunn free hit created havoc in the visitors’ defence, and on the stroke of half time Chris McGowan came within inches of doubling Bute’s advantage when his shot from a tight angle was cleared off the line.
But Col Glen were a different proposition after the restart, though they were perhaps aided by several tired legs in a Bute team including seven players - McGowan, McMillan, Adam Stirling, Thomas McCready and James, Scott and Arran Dunn - who had played for some or all of the Bute first team’s 4-0 Camanachd Cup win over Taynuilt earlier in the day.
And the visitors went on to dominate the second half, Jack Smith levelling in 64 minutes with a beautifully-struck volley from Gordon Bruce’s corner.
McKirdy hit the post as the visitors turned up the heat in search of a winner, and in the closing stages McKirdy and Jamie McVicar both passed up gilt-edged chances to take the points back to the mainland, but Bute dug deep into their reserves and held out against the amber and black tide to take a hard-earned share of the spoils.