The under strength Rudhachs set up a mouth watering semi final against holders Carloway with a determined and brilliant defensive display against a good Harris team.
Ally L. Kevin, Macca, Daniel, Matthew. Andrew Mac, Spike, Andrew Murray, Alfie. Alexander, Cage. Subs: Andrew Mackay (for Alfie), Sean (for Andrew Murray)
A depleted Reds team went down to Rally park with a big lead but with some big names missing. No select trio of Wally (injured), Angus (working) or Ally G (Stag doo) who all played in the first leg. Stew Munro and Scotty Bomb were other notable absentees (work commitments). This must have given the Hearachs a boost prior to the game. That and the fact that the Rudhachs had crashed out of the Highland Amateur barely 48 hours prior to the game meant that a massive come back might well be on the cards. I think Westside came back from four or five one down to beat Ness a couple of years ago……. Not today though Harris as the Reds defended brilliantly, ably led by Macca and Daniel at centre back.
There wasn’t as much goal mouth action as in the first leg but Point shaded the first half and deservedly took the lead when Daniel’s excellent diagonal was headed down by Andrew Mac to give Zander the chance to pass the ball confidently into the corner. As in the first leg Andrew Mo was the Hearach’s biggest threat but Daniel and Matthew were covering well down the left hand side. Alfie had a good chance for Point but he volleyed over after doing well at the back post.
At half time the message was to keep working hard and not give the Hearachs a sniff at a momentous come back. I didn’t realise at the time but Harris were desperate to simply win a game as it had been a while, maybe since their 2013 Eilean an Fhraoch final victory against Westside, one of the biggest underdog stories in recent years.
In the second half Harris played well, dominating much of the play without really threatening the Point goal. Hugh Morrison (another adopted Rudhach) started to take control of proceedings, running with the ball well and setting up half chances for others. Andrew Murray had to limp off the field with a dead leg and Alfie went off with cramp as the game wore on. The Reds had no more subs and also some players who were short of match practice. Eventually the pressure told and like in the first leg it was Kenny Macsween who escaped in the inside left channel to steer the ball beneath Ally in goal. The Rudhachs had to regroup and stay solid for the last twenty. Harris almost took the lead when Jamie Fraser broke through, but Ally was out sharply to block his shot. Moments later Jody Sheils’ free kick struck the cross bar as the Blacks pushed for the win.
As the Hearachs continued to push they threw Big Taz forward in search of a winner, but as is often the case they got done on the counter attack. Andrew Mac did well to win the ball in midfield. He played it through to Alexander who took one look before rifling the ball into the net beyond the despairing Harris keeper. That was the last real action of the match as ref Smith blew the whistle shortly after. Tough luck on the Hearachs but a great win for the Reds who showed great concentration and worked hard throughout.
Point Man of match: Daniel Macleod. Played superbly at centre back, a position he had never played before!
Moment of match:
The whole tie was played in great spirit and the referee even commented on how easy his task was tonight. Hard but fair. After the game we retired to the Harris Hotel for some food and drink. It was great of Harris to host us so well and just a pity it was a Monday and not a Friday! Thanks Stevie and Angus.
Big respect to the travelling Red army too. There must have been about 10 Ultras down watching; good going considering Saturday’s disappointment.