A 2-1 HOME win by Kingussie over Kyles Athletic confirmed their position at the top of shinty’s Mowi Premiership, though neighbours Newtonmore kept themselves in the picture with a surprisingly close 3-2 away victory over league strugglers Kilmallie.

Not that Kingussie manager John Gibson is getting carried away with thoughts of Premier League success at this stage in proceedings. “We are only at the half way stage in this competition as yet. If we are still in this position with three games to go then maybe I’ll see things differently. We have certainly been to some tough places but we have plenty of tougher places still to go. We are still only one or two bad results away from being mid-table. There is a lot of shinty yet to be played.”

The quality of the shinty that the Kingussie manager was talking about was evident at the Dell on Saturday. Both teams were so evenly matched that it took some smart tactical adjustments, and the slice of good fortune that all successful teams need, to see Kings safely over the line with both points.

Kingussie certainly opened well enough with their mobile frontmen attempting to pull the more experienced Kyles defenders about at the back to create space for the telling strike. For a brief spell in the early stages, that looked to have been successful – especially so in the 12th minute when the home side went ahead through winger Roddy Young.

This followed neat work by frontman Ruaraidh Anderson, who picked up a ball driven forward by wing-centre Kieran Macpherson and ran to commit the Kyles defenders, only to find his forward momentum blocked by halfback Andy King. This caused the ball to be forced back into the path of Young and his low strike from 15 yards found its way past Kyles keeper John Whyte for the opener.

After that early reversal the Kyles defence, putting in a powerful shift alongside King, came to the fore and Kingussie struggled to build on their advantage. With the game apparently on the turn, Kyles manager Dunky Kerr consolidated his midfield by moving international Roddy Macdonald up from defence to full-centre and brought on former Newtonmore player Paul MacArthur at full forward.

With no further goals conceded before the break, this Kyles move began to change the shape of the game, so much so that Kings boss Gibson brought Savio Genini off the bench to provide more power up front to replace youngster Liam Borthwick, who was finding the going tough.

This tactical switch brought about a second Kingussie goal shortly after the restart courtesy of a well-worked free hit taken by Ruaraidh Anderson, which presented Genini with enough space to beat Whyte with an underhit shot which deceived the Kyles keeper.

The third Kingussie goal which would have effectively killed off the game was avoided shortly afterwards, when a superb high save by Whyte kept out a drive from Young.

From that point on, however, Kyles remained in the ascendency. Despite being thwarted on a number of occasions, they eventually got past Kingussie keeper Rory MacGregor in 64 minutes through a well taken strike by half forward Robbie Macleod which brought the score back to 2-1.

In the end, though the visitors continued to press forward strongly throughout the final quarter – indeed they had the ball in the net once more only for the attempt to be ruled out by referee David Mitchell – Kingussie were able to hold on to claim their reward as table-toppers.