THREE goals in extra time were what was required for Newtonmore to see off rivals Lovat in the north semi-final of the Artemis Macaulay Cup at Braeview Park, Beauly on Saturday.

With the teams tied 0-0 at full time, there was still no clear evidence from the pattern of play as to how the match would ultimately unfold with Newtonmore having just shaded the first half and Lovat finishing strongly at the end of the second period.

For ‘More manager Paul John Mackintosh, however, the result was rarely in doubt – though he paid tribute to the tenacity of his opponents.

Mackintosh said: “I always felt that we were going to do it but in a tight game you never know. I felt our defence were secure and our keeper Norman Campbell was not really tested at all. Mind you we didn’t give Lovat keeper Stuart Macdonald much to worry about either until extra time.”

If victory was built on anything it was on a superb defensive display from all four of the Newtonmore outfield defenders with man of the match Steven Macdonald in particular putting in a faultless performance at half back.

At the other end too the Lovat defence played their part in this close encounter – and apart from one early strike from Fraser Mackintosh which was expertly swatted away by Lovat keeper Macdonald, the Newtonmore attack constituted no consistent threat to the Lovat goal.

Although both defences were on top the balance of play going forward was dictated to a great extent by the Newtonmore midfield with Michael Russell at full centre having the edge on his opposite number Danny Kelly.

Russell has only recently moved into the midfield from defence – ‘More were missing all three of their regular midfield starters through injury – but his energy and ability plus the fact that he capped off his display with a fine extra time goal must mean that he has made the full centre berth his own for the rest of the season.

Having had their best spell in the last ten minutes of normal time, Lovat might have been expected to carry this on into extra-time. In the event however they seemed to lose focus, perhaps pinning their hopes on a penalty shoot-out where on previous occasions international keeper Stuart Macdonald has consistently proved difficult to beat.

This time however it was not to be, and ironically, it was the Lovat keeper – so often a hero in the past – who must take his share of responsibility as he allowed an under-hit shot from ‘More frontman Jamie Robinson to squirm past him into the net for the opener.

Minutes later Robinson scored a second when he knocked home the rebound after Macdonald had blocked the initial strike from Iain Robinson. That goal effectively finished the game as a contest though Newtonmore did go on to make it 3-0 in the second half of extra-time thanks to a late solo effort by full centre Michael Russell.

Newtonmore now face Kyles Athletic in the final after the Tighnabruaich s ide clinched a 2-0 win over Oban Camanachd at Mossfield in the south semi-final.

Kyles striker Colin Macdonald did the damage with two simple early goals which left Camanachd chasing the game most of the afternoon – and despite testing keeper John Whyte with several close attempts, including one which struck the post, Kyles with Roddy Macdonald at half back had enough experience to see the game out to a successful conclusion.

Meanwhile Kinlochshiel moved up to lead the Marine Harvest Premier League after a 3-0 away win over Kilmallie.

Elsewhere in the premiership Kingussie defeated Glasgow Mid Argyll 3-0 while Glenurquhart’s disappointing 3-1 away loss to Lochaber now draws them into relegation territory.