Kinlochshiel’s chances of holding on to the Marine Harvest Premiership title took a severe knock on Saturday when they lost 4-1 away to Oban Camanachd at Mossfield.

To make matters worse, the Wester Ross side also face the prospect of playing out the rest of the season without their top goalscorer, Keith MacRae.

MacRae, who has bagged 20 goals so far this season, suffered a recurrence of the knee injury that had kept him side-lined since June, just 10 minutes after coming off the bench to replace youngster Duncan Matheson.

However, more worrying for manager Johnston Gill, with his side due to face Kyles Athletic at the same venue in the Artemis MacAulay Cup final in just under two weeks’ time is the fact that Shiel seem to have somewhat lost their way at a crucial stage of the season. “It’s very difficult to put my finger on exactly what has happened,” Gill said. “We seem to have lost our fluency. Last season and earlier this season we were going well, putting together passes and scoring.

“Now we seem to have lost our edge and can’t find the net as often as we should. After today’s match we sat down in the dressing room had a good talk, so at least we’ve made a start towards addressing things.”

Playing with the wind in their favour, Shiel opened the scoring midway through the first half. Oban keeper Cameron Sutherland blocked a powerful shot from Jordan Fraser only for the ball to bounce back into the path of half-forward Ali Nixon, who finished neatly from close range.

Kinlochshiel couldn’t maintain their superiority, however, and after 36 minutes strong running and a shot from Oban’s Daniel MacCuish caused enough confusion in the Shiel backline to allow youngster Connor Howe time to smash the loose ball high into the net from 18 yards for the equaliser.

The second half brought MacRae’s injury and then a gradual tightening of the screw by Oban Camanachd, whose young forwards were simply too mobile on the huge Mossfield surface for the Shiel defence to handle.

After 52 minutes, a cutback from winger Daniel MacVicar set up Oban’s top scorer, Andrew MacCuish, with a chance and he made no mistake with a controlled strike into the net from just outside the ‘D’.

Howe made it 3-1 with his second of the afternoon immediately afterwards and the home side added a fourth goal five minutes from time. A neat pass through the channel from MacCuish played in Daniel MacVicar and he cut the ball past keeper Scott Kennedy.

The loss of both points leaves Kinlochshiel in fourth position in the Marine Harvest Premiership behind Kyles Athletic, Lovat and current leaders Newtonmore.

They have games in hand on all three sides above them but even if they win them Shiel will still be two points behind Newtonmore, making the meeting between the sides at the Eilean on September 22 a crucial test for both teams.

Worryingly for Shiel, Newtonmore are coming into top form at the business end of the season as they proved on Friday night when they beat neighbours Kingussie 2-0. Two excellent strikes from Iain Robinson were sufficient to clinch both points in the Badenoch derby.

Finally, Kyles Athletic defeated visitors Skye 4-0 at Tighnabruaich, leaving the islanders with a mountain to climb to avoid relegation from the sport’s top division.