NEWTONMORE are within touching distance of another Marine Harvest Premiership title-their eighth in nine years-after a 2-0 home win over reigning champions Kinlochshiel at the Eilean. The result means that with two league games left to play this season, ‘More manager PJ Mackintosh knows his side have to pick up at least two more points to ensure their championship status. “Our two remaining fixtures against Oban and then against Kyles Athletic are big games-both of these sides are capable of getting a result against us. However we have to keep our focus and a victory in our next home fixture against Oban should see us over the line. We will have to go out and win it for ourselves. We can’t rely on other clubs dropping points and we certainly cannot afford any slip ups ourselves since Kyles have, with all due respect, an easier run-in than we do and I can see them eating into our goal difference.”

Newtonmore certainly showed their determination to secure yet another title right from the start of Saturday’s encounter with ‘Shiel, with neat forward play pressurising the visitors defence right from the off. Despite that, Shiel keeper Scott Kennedy had nothing exceptional to stop though he did have to deal effectively with a number of tricky ground strikes from Mike Russell and Glen Mackintosh. At the other end ‘Shiel did mount a series of attacks themselves but though attempts by both Jordan Fraser and John Macrae did test ‘More keeper Kenny Ross the first half ended in stalemate with two of the most effective players on the park Newtonmore half-forward Mike Russell and Kinlochshiel half back Conor Cormack essentially cancelling each other out.

Kinlochshiel took up the initiative strongly after the break and enjoyed a short spell of dominance but without making their pressure count, though it took two excellent saves by Ross, one a reaction stop over his head, to keep ‘Shiel danger man Jordan Fraser from finding the net. Newtonmore though always had the edge overall and eventually they made the breakthrough in 63 minutes when veteran striker Glen Mackintosh slipped his marker Finlay Macrae and drove a powerful shot in on goal. Shiel keeper Kennedy somehow blocked the initial strike but ‘More sub Drew McDonald beat the visiting defence to the loose ball and volleyed it home for the opener. From that point on, Newtonmore never looked like slipping up though they continued to find it hard to get past an excellent ‘Shiel backline right up until the final minute when referee Graham Cameron awarded them a penalty after wing-centre Fraser Mackintosh, who had a put in a particularly effective second half performance, was brought down in the “D”. Glen Mackintosh made no mistake from the spot.

Spare a thought for Fraser Mackintosh however. His awkward fall in the “D” earned him a broken collar-bone and certainly will have cost him his place in next Saturday’s Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup final. It is a particular tragedy for the veteran ‘Newtonmore centreman because at 36 years of age, he can’t have too many chances at the big time left.

Elsewhere in the Marine Harvest Premiership a 1-0 away win for Skye over Glenurquhart sees them move off the foot of the table and, providing results go well for them in their remaining fixtures, they still have a chance of evading relegation. A second half goal from Rory Macleod was enough to throw Skye their escape lifeline.