DEFENDING champions Kinlochshiel held on to the top spot in the Marine Harvest Premier League at the weekend courtesy of an excellent 3-1 away win against Kyles Athletic.

With Kyles’s pitch being upgraded, this match took place at nearby Dunoon but the change of venue certainly did not faze the Ross-shire visitors who are looking more and more like champions with every outing.

While Kyles made their usual bright start, they were unable to make any of their pressure count against a strong Shiel defence where internationals Finlay MacRae and Connor Cormack were always on hand to snuff out any danger posed by Kyles front men Roddy MacDonald and Grant Irvine.

Shiel always looked more lively on the break, however, and on the half-hour, following on a ball forward from the centre line, half-forward Ali Nixon exchanged passes with John MacRae, held off Andrew King and fired home the opener from just outside the D.

Shiel scored again three minutes later. Referee Robert Baxter awarded the visitors a penalty after Kyles keeper John Whyte had fouled Keith MacRae, with the Shiel player looking odds-on to score. Jordan Fraser made no mistake from the spot and when John MacRae netted Kinlochshiel’s third goal just before half-time, tucking away a rebound off the luckless Whyte, the game should have been effectively over.

The Tighnabruaich lads however have a fierce pride in their shinty and their never-say-die attitude brought the reward of an early second half-goal. It came from the caman of top forward Roddy MacDonald who had to run deep to seek out the ball which he eventually smashed past Shiel keeper Scott Kennedy from all of 20 yards.

There was further pressure from Kyles, involving lots of neat interplay among their forwards, but it only produced in a number of shots which were wide of the mark plus one that had to be dealt with by Shiel keeper Kennedy, before a late strike from Grant Irvine hit a post.

Lovat remain second in the table thanks to a hard-won 4-2 away victory at Kingussie. In what could have been a tricky fixture, Lovat went ahead after 26 minutes when full-forward Marc MacLachlan outmuscled Kings full-back Robert Mabon and keeper Craig Dawson to snatch the opener.

Top scorer Greg Matheson doubled Lovat’s lead two minutes later when he got on to the end of a corner. Kingussie youngster Roddy Young reduced the deficit just before half-time, but a Thomas Fraser strike quickly restored the Lovat’s two-goal advantage after the restart. A second goal from Young gave Kingussie fresh hope of rescuing something from the game but Greg Matheson’s emphatic finish with

15 minutes to go sealed both points for the visitors.

Promotion winners Caberfeidh had an emphatic 5-0 home win over Glenurquhart, with strikes from Jamie

MacKintosh and Kevin Bartlett (2) doing the early damage. Glenurquhart, who beat Caberfeidh in a Macaulay Cup tie seven days earlier, were never really in the match and a Craig Morrison double after the break merely emphasised the gulf between the sides.

That gulf between the top sides and the rest was further underlined in the other two games in the Premiership, with Newtonmore beating Skye 7-1 and Oban Camanachd racking up a 9-0 win over Lochaber.

In the first round of the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup there were wins for Kilmallie, Inveraray and Oban Celtic over Ballachulish, Glasgow Mid Argyll and Strathglass respectively.