Shinty: Fort’s Knox thwarts Bute escape bid

ROBERT FERGUSON’S second half strike earned Bute a well-deserved point against Fort William at the Meadows on Saturday – although Alan Knox’s equaliser, combined with results elsewhere, means the islanders now need a miracle to avoid relegation from the Orion Group Premiership.

The men in red now lie four points adrift of ninth-placed Kilmallie with four games to play – but with eight points separating the islanders from a three-way tie for third-bottom spot, and only two points available for a win, Bute now require a major turnaround in their fortunes, and those of their rivals, to retain their place in the sport’s top flight.

Both sides, having enjoyed – or endured – underwhelming campaigns since fighting out a 1-1 draw on the opening day of the season in March, had plenty of chances in an end-to-end encounter, with captain Robert Walker having the best of Bute’s chances in the first half and home keeper Kevin Queen doing well to deny Cameron Grant at the other end.

The second half followed a similar pattern, with Queen denying Knox just seconds after the restart and Neil McKirdy coming close to a first Bute senior goal.

And with the clock ticking into the final 20 minutes, the deadlock was finally broken by the hosts when Walker and Graham Fisher combined to set up Ferguson, who collided with Fort keeper Paul MacKay before recovering to free up the ball and tap home.

But the hosts’ hopes of a memorable, and much-needed, win were dashed ten minutes from time when Knox was played in by fellow substitute Jack Fraser and held his nerve to slot the ball past Queen and earn the visitors a share of the spoils.

* Bute’s first team have no game this Saturday, August 4. Bute’s second team, having received the points after Ardnamurchan were unable to raise a team to travel to Rothesay last weekend, return to action this Saturday with a South Division Two fixture away to Glasgow Mid Argyll.