FORT William are the new holders of the Balliemore Cup having overcome fellow Marine Harvest National League side Caberfeidh.

It was an epic struggle which went all the way to extra time before being finally decided 5-4 in favour of the Fort after the penalty shoot-out.

While the West Highlanders were naturally delighted with their victory — their first ever in this competition, which is reserved for teams below Premier League level — many in the crowd at Drumnadrochit’s Blairbeg Park will have spared a thought for Caberfeidh frontman Craig Morrison who hit a hat-trick on the day and converted his strike in the shoot-out, yet still ended up with a loser’s medal.

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Despite Caberfeidh’s disappointment however — felt the more keenly because they were also beaten finalists last year — Fort William were just about worth the win if only because their young team finished the regulation period of play on the up and as extra time had worn on their fitness gave them the edge.

Fort William had got off to a flying start inside five minutes after a long ball over from the right from youngster Seumas Gall was chased down by full forward Jack Fraser and his shot on the turn flew past Caberfeidh keeper Ewan Pilcher for the opening goal.

Fort William might have hoped to capitalise on this early advantage but in reality it was Strathpeffer-based Caberfeidh who dominated the rest of the first half taking control of midfield thanks in particular to a fine performance by centre Ali Maclennan.

Cabers looked to have equalised midway through the first period but Morrison’s attempt was ruled out for an offside by encroaching forward Martin Macdonald.

However, with Fort William full-back Mark Grant on top form his close marking restricted Caberfeidh’s international frontman Kevin Bartlett to just a few shots from distance, which did not overly trouble Fort William keeper Paul Mackay.

Not long after the half-time break Caberfeidh got back into the game with a bang, first equalising and then taking the lead thanks to two well taken strikes by Morrison.

On both occasions with the Fort William defenders obsessing over Bartlett, the Scotland under-21 international profited from the inattention to steal a march on his marker and finish with crisply taken shots from outside the “D” two times.

A well taken solo effort by Fraser after he had taken on and beaten Caberfeidh full-back Gavin Macdonald brought the sides level, before Bartlett restored his side’s lead when he converted a penalty awarded for a kick by the Fort William defence.

A goal by Fort’s teenage substitute Lewis Clark then managed to take the game into extra time where the stalemate continued with a superb goal from Fort William midfielder Calum Shepherd being cancelled out by Morrison’s third goal.

The penalty shoot-out was equally tense with Caberfeidh faltering when Ali Maclennan struck the post with the third of his side’s attempts.

Though his team scored their remaining two efforts , Fort kept focused converting all five with full-back Mark Grant hitting the crucial penalty which finally secured the trophy for Fort William.

Away from cup action there were two ties in the Marine Harvest Premiership.

In the first of those, champions Newtonmore showed that they have not given up on winning their eighth Premier League title in a row after recording a 3-1 home victory over league leaders Kyles Athletic through goals from Glen Mackintosh, Evan Menzies and Conor Jones. Sandy Mackenzie scored for Kyles.

In the other premiership contest Kingussie beat bottom club Lochaber 5-2 thanks to a hat-trick from Lee Bain and goals from youngsters Ruaraidh Anderson and Ryan Borthwick. Zander Ferguson and Stuart Callison were the Lochaber goalscorers.