IN the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup semi-final at Fort William on Saturday Lovat defeated Oban Camanachd 2-1 thanks to a last minute goal by new signing Marc Maclachlan.

The striker, who started the season in the colours of National League side Beauly, had not been expected to play in the semi, but the suspension of regular Lovat front-man Lorne Mackay opened the door for Maclachlan to make his debut and his winning strike certainly repaid manager Fraser Gallagher’s faith in his selection.

“We originally signed Marc to add some depth to our squad and he’s certainly proved his worth by his display today. We always knew he had what it takes to play at the top level and it’s to his credit that when he’s been given his chance he’s grasped it with both hands.”

Indeed Maclachlan might have made an even bigger impact on this match when neat interpassing between midfielder Callum Macaulay and winger Lewis Tawse set him up with a clear chance from close range early in the first half but the debutant carelessly clubbed his strike over the bar.

Equally guilty of profligacy in a closely contested encounter was Oban striker Malcolm Clark and, with two of his early shots flying high and a third shaving the post, Lovat’s international keeper Stuart Macdonald remained untroubled for the whole of the first half.

At the other end, the story was essentially similar and though a Greg Matheson shot on the half-hour mark did force Oban keeper Gavin Stobbart into making a decent stop the first half remained goalless.

After the break Oban did manage to exert a measure of control but they found Lovat keeper Macdonald in excellent form making first-class stops from Clark, Daniel Cameron and Andrew MacCuish.

Finally in the 73rd minute the Argyllshire side breached the Lovat defensive wall when MacCuish played a one-two with Cameron at a free-hit to knock the ball past Macdonald for the opener.

From the pattern of play at the time, most neutrals would have backed Oban to close the game out and move on to feature in their second Camanachd Cup final in a row – but a second yellow card saw wing-back Garry Lord dismissed and the dynamics of the game completely changed. Buoyed by the extra man, Lovat pushed forward equalising in 77 minutes through top scorer Matheson who knocked the ball home from close range following a free hit.

Oban held on desperately hoping to make it to extra time and perhaps beyond to the penalty shootout but a last minute goalmouth melee saw a pass from Lovat half-forward Danny Kelly played in to Maclachlan who fired low past Stobbart for the winner.

The remaining semi-final between Skye and Newtonmore will take place in a fortnight’s time with the winners due to face Lovat in the final at Inverness’s Bught Park on Saturday, September 30.

There was action too in the Marine Harvest Premiership this past weekend with Kilmallie continuing to make progress in their attempt to avoid relegation with a fine 3-2 home victory against fellow strugglers Lochaber. A goal from Daniel Stewart plus two from Michael Rodger – including a late penalty – were enough to bag the points for the home side. Veteran Neil Macdonald scored both Lochaber goals.

The Kilmallie result puts pressure on third bottom side Glenurquhart who suffered a disastrous collapse at Tighnabruaich going down 7-0 to title challengers Kyles Athletic. Hat-tricks from Roddy Macdonald and Grant Irvine plus a single from Dunky Kerr secured the win for Kyles.

In the final match in the Premiership Newtonmore kept themselves in the hunt for an eighth consecutive title by defeating bottom side Glasgow Mid Argyll 4-2.