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Lovat look to hold on to top spot

By Will Clark

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Table topping Lovat face unbeaten Kyles Athletic at Balgate tomorrow in a vital match in the Premiership.

Lovat lead the Argyll-shire side by three points but crucially the Royal Blues have three games in hand and have dropped just one point in their opening four matches.

With team manager Fraser Gallagher on holiday his assistant James White has been preparing the team for the match.

He reports a clean bill of health with Greg Matheson restored to fitness after picking up a knock against Kinlochshiel.

Lovat goal machines Greg Matheson (Left) and Marc MacLachlan against Lovat in the Artemis MacAulay Cup tie first round, played at Kirkton, Balmacara. Picture: Neil Paterson
Lovat goal machines Greg Matheson (Left) and Marc MacLachlan against Lovat in the Artemis MacAulay Cup tie first round, played at Kirkton, Balmacara. Picture: Neil Paterson

Club chairman John MacRitchie was under no illusions as to the importance of the match.

“This is another big match and the boys are determined to keep in the hunt for the title. We had a little stumble when we lost two matches but the confidence has returned. There is a good mood in the camp and hopefully we can take both points”.

The Tighnabruaich side have Paul MacArthur suspended after he was dismissed in last Saturday’s match at Inveraray.

Caberfeidh are in Oban to face a Camanachd side who are beginning to show their true form.

Cabers’ boss Jodi Gorski hopes to name an unchanged side which means that Scotland striker Kevin Bartlett will continue to operate in a deeper role with youngsters Colin MacLennan and Craig Morrison providing the goal threat.

After a shaky start to the season current champions Newtonmore are warming to the task of defending their title and will be favourites for both points when they travel to play Inveraray at the Winterton. They are handily placed in fourth spot and can draw level with Lovat if they win their two games in hand.

Also recovering from a poor start to the season are Kinlochshiel who are on the fringes of the title race in fifth place and with a home tie against a struggling Lochaber side they can also stay on contention.

Second place Kingussie take on Kilmallie at the Dell with the Corpach side’s form dipping after a dazzling start to the season. They have Liam MacDonald suspended.

Tomorrow also marks the opening round of the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup with ten second tier clubs in going head to head.Among the ten there are seven past winners of the competition with Fort William the most recent name in the group on shinty’s top trophy with their last triumph coming in 2010. They begin with an intriguing tie, something of a West Highland derby, when they take on Ballachulish at the Jubilee Park.

There is also a derby match at Beauly as the home side face old rivals Inverness in what is sure to be a close fought affair despite Inverness currently playing in a division below the National Division side.

Beauly will be without captain Sean Stewart who is away while defender Andrew Morrison is a doubt after he damaged a hamstring in last Saturday’s league match at Cannich.

Inverness meanwhile will be without David Campbell sent off in last Saturday’s win over Fort William reserves at An Aird.

Strathglass also have home advantage for their first round tie against Oban Celtic with both management teams looking for improvement after recent disappointing results. The Strath will look to Scott Douglas and Ruairi Strachan to provide the firepower

In other ties Bute face Glasgow Mid Argyll while Skye enjoyed a walkover after Taynuilt withdrew from the competition in midweek. Glenurquhart , meanwhile, go straight into the second round after receiving a bye in the draw for thefirst round.

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