KINGUSSIE are the new pace-setters in shinty’s Mowi Premier League courtesy of a convincing 4-1 away victory over Kinlochshiel at Balmacara on Saturday. The victory – coming on an afternoon when previous league leaders Lovat dropped both points at home against Newtonmore – sees Kings clear at the top of the table for the first time in a decade, though that’s not a situation interim manager Ali MacLeod takes too seriously.

MacLeod, who took charge of the team this past weekend in the absence of regular supremo John Gibson, is keen that his young side keep their achievement in perspective. “It was a positive performance but let’s face it, topping the league at this stage in the season means nothing,” he said. “If we are still here in June things might be different. What we are really looking for at Kingussie is to get our play up to a consistent level which we haven’t managed so far. If we do that, then we are capable of maybe having a successful cup run but it’s certainly far too early to be talking about the league.”

Despite the final score, Kingussie didn’t have it all their own way – indeed it was home side that started the stronger, going ahead in the 10th minute when a ball up from midfield was touched on by Duncan Matheson to John MacRae. His sudden turn and fierce swerving drive caught out King’s keeper Rory MacGregor and found the net giving Shiel a deserved opener. After that early setback they juggled their frontline, switching Roddy Young out wide and bringing Savio Genini into full-forward where his more direct style began to cause problems for the Shiel defence.

The payoff for Kings came just on the half-hour when Young managed to cut the ball back into the path of Genini and his low shot found its way in off the post and past keeper Stuart MacRae for the equaliser.

Then, 10 minutes before the break, Kingussie went ahead thanks to the efforts of the same two players. Once again Young held off his defender, this time squaring the ball across to Genini and his sharp shot bounced up of the fiery turf over MacRae’s shoulder for Kingussie’s second.

There was no further scoring before the half-time break but Shiel’s hopes of a comeback surely went out the window when scorer John MacRae limped off nursing a damaged hamstring. And so it proved after the restart when the Kingussie midfield of Fraser Munro and James Hutchison went on to consolidate their grip on the game. It was only a matter of time before Kingussie added to their goal tally and they went 3-1 ahead in 52 minutes when a high chipped ball from distance by Roddy Young was unaccountably missed in the air by Shiel keeper MacRae, to the consternation of the home fans.

Genini then finished the scoring six minutes later, completing his own hat-trick in the process, when he stole in front of his marker Paul MacRae to first time a James Falconer corner into the net for goal number four.

A good afternoon for Kingussie then and one which despite the manager’s sensible caution certainly sets them up well for the rest of their Premiership campaign. For Shiel manager Johnstone Gill however, matters look considerably bleaker with John MacRae now joining his brother Finlay – who broke his arm against Lovat recently – on the injury list. The third brother Keith, though he did put in some playing time in on Saturday, is still not back to peak fitness.