GLENURQUHART edged towards safety in the Marine Harvest Premiership after a late goal from Dave Smart rescued a point in a 2-2 draw against Glasgow Mid Argyll.
The single point was enough to hoist the Glen above Lochaber but only on goal-difference and both sides face just about the most difficult finale to the season, with the Glen away to league-leaders Kinlochshiel next Saturday while Lochaber entertain seven-time league champions Newtonmore later in the season.
On Saturday, Glenurquhart were able to field almost their strongest line-up with Fraser Heath and Smart reunited in a Glen team for the first time in well over a year, while former Caley Thistle and Ross County goalkeeper Michael Fraser anchored the defence alongside Andy Corrigan. John Barr sat this one out as he served the final match of his three-game suspension.
James MacPherson struck the opener for the Glen in the 13th minute as the red and blacks opened impressively. But the visitors clung on and reached the interval without further goals conceded. In the second half Mid Argyll grew in confidence and forged ahead through goals from Craig Anderson and Calum McLay.
With time running out and Glenurquhart facing their eighth straight defeat, Smart struck at the death to secure a point for Iain MacLeod’s side, which may well prove invaluable in maintaining the Glen’s stay in shinty’s elite league.
It was also honours even in the fight for the title, with Newtonmore sharing the points after an epic struggle with Kinlochshiel at the Eilan which ended 2-2. Leaders Kyles Athletic slipped back to second place after losing 2-1 away to Lovat in the tightest of clashes at Balgate.
Kyles took the lead early in the second half as Roddy MacDonald pounced on a loose ball before shooting low beyond Stuart Macdonald.
The home side quickly struck back however through as Greg Matheson scored in typical style as he first avoided a tackle from Kyles’ defender Cammy Keith, before guiding the ball over John Whyte’s shoulder into the net for the equaliser.
The game continued to swing from end to end with both sides looking equally likely to score. In the 64th minute, a clash between Macdonald and Lovat defender Martin Mainland ended with the Kyles player receiving a straight red card for retaliation.
Lovat made clever use of the extra man and seven minutes from time another smart finish from Matheson, from a Calum Cruden corner, sealed the points for the home side.
Elsewhere in the Premiership Kingussie defeated Oban Camanachd 4-3 at Mossfield to stay in third position in the table.
After Saturday’s results it is advantage Kinlochshiel who now lead the table by a single point with three matches remaining but the race for the title is far from over.
It was day of celebration for Skye as they secured promotion to the Premiership and the National Division league title with a 2-0 home win over nearest challengers Caberfeidh.
Fort William closed in on second place with a 6-1 defeat of Inverness at the Bught with James Cameron hitting the City side’s only goal of the match.
FT - Boleskine 3 (Duncan MacPherson 6, 29, 45) Strathspey 3 (Martin Ross 27, Conor Aubrey 72, 87) - Marine Harvest North Div 2 #shinty— Shinty (@camanachd) September 9, 2017
In the area leagues Glenurquhart reserves forged a 1-0 win over their Kinlochshiel counterparts to move away from the foot of the table. This match was switched to Drumnadrochit after ‘Shiel’s Kirkton pitch was unplayable. Christopher Mack’s strike in the third minute proved to be the winner.
Beauly’s teenage goalkeeper Lee Dunbar was the star in their match against league leaders Newtonmore with a brilliant display, which included two penalty saves. Despite his heroics, Beauly went down 3-0.
In North Division Two Boleskine held Strathspey to a 3-3 draw at Smith Park but Strathglass and Inverness both lost.