The Uist and Barra Football League
Benbecula 5 Eriskay 3
– Benbecula move ahead of North Uist after high scoring match
– John Allan McLeod set to miss semi-final
Benbecula’s Sean MacInnes in action against Eriskay
By Adam Gordon
Benbecula moved into fourth position in the Uist and Barra League with a high-scoring victory against bottom of the league Eriskay. Andrew Macsween for Benbecula and Sean MacKinnon for Eriskay both scored twice, as the teams shared eight goals in an entertaining and chaotic match.
The game ended on a sour note, however, as Benbecula’s goalkeeper John Allan MacLeod was shown a straight red card for kicking an opponent and will now miss his side’s Summer Cup semi-final against Iochdar Saints on Tuesday.
Benbecula and Eriskay had played each other just over a week earlier, with Benbecula coming out on top by a 7-0 scoreline. This time though the margin would be considerably smaller and the match far more competitive.
The possibility of such as result happening again did appeared ominous for Eriskay, when Benbecula went in front in the 11th minute. Scott Mackay took advantage of some sloppy defending to latch on to the ball and beat Scott Stephen to make it 1-0 to Benbecula.
This time, however, Eriskay were not to be defeated at a canter and they soon hit back with an equaliser. Sean McKinnon ventured forward from centre-back position, and took advantage of a congested penalty area to flick the ball over John Allan McLeod to draw his side level at 1-1 with 20 minutes gone.
The Eriskay defence were soon breached once more as Benbecula hit back from the penalty spot. Sean MacInnes was brought down and the referee Paul Steele pointed to the spot. Hector MacPhee, who had put in a man of the match performance in the previous meeting between the teams, confidently dispatched the spot-kick into the bottom-right corner to restore the home team’s lead to make it 2-1 with just under half an hour played.
Calum Macmillan went close to levelling the scores, but his header was cleared of the line. The Eriskay forward line began to exert themselves on the Benbecula defence, and minutes later Macmillan showed fantastic skill to drag the ball backwards between two Benbecula players before leaving them for dead, as his team went in search of an equaliser.
Despite some promising play by the visitors, Benbecula superior power and cohesion began to expose some shortcomings within the Eriskay team. Stephen’s attempt to flick away a cross from his goal landed at the back post, leaving Andrew Macsween free to compose himself before hitting a neat half-volley shot into the net. The goal extended Benbecula’s lead to 3-1 going into half-time.
Benbecula causing confusion in the Eriskay ranks in what was a frantically paced game.
Eriskay, refusing to let the concession of a third goal bring them down, came flying out of the traps and soon had their opponents back pinned back in their own half. Macmillan, again showed great ability to roll the ball through the legs of his marker as he set about terrorising the Benbecula back four. His persistence soon paid off, as Eriskay reduced the margin to just one with a great goal from Jack Walker. Walker taking up a position on the right-hand side of the Benbecula box, was played in on goal by Macmillan, and despite being at a rather acute angle to the goal, he smashed his shot into the top-right corner from about 14 yards out to make it 3-2.
Iain MacDonald, somewhat perplexed by his team’s submission of a seemingly comfortable lead, imparted some strong words of wisdom to his team, which whether prompting a renewed will to win, or perhaps sheer fear, seem to have the desired effect on the Benbecula players, as they increased their lead soon after.
Jordan Macpherson arrived into the box from the right-back position to power home a fantastic header into the top corner from a Hector Macphee corner, giving Benbecula a 4-2 lead with just under an hour gone.
MacSween added a fifth shortly after with a fine piece of keepy-up. The striker, flicked the ball up with his right foot three times, before directing his shot around Stephen in the Eriskay goal to give Benbecula commanding 5-2 lead.
Although Eriskay now knew they would have to score another three goals to draw level in the game, their guile and trickiness still presented Benbecula with some problems. Michael Iain MacInnes, always a livewire in attack, drew a foul from MacLeod and left Paul Steele was no other option but to point to the penalty spot for the second time of the game. Sean McKinnon took the kick and score his second of the game, as Benbecula one again saw their margin reduced.
With the game now drawing to a close, Benbecula knew that time, if not defensive solidity, would render a comeback highly unlikely. There was still time for one last blow to the home team, when a red card was showed to MacLeod in the Benbecula goal. The goalkeeper, who was probably exempted from any blame for the three goals his team had conceded, kicked out at one of the Eriskay players and the referee duly issued a red card for the indiscretion.
It was disappointing ending to a match in which Benbecula played well and deserved to win and one that Eriskay had shown a marked improvement from their previous defeat just over a week ago.
Benbecula manager, Iain MacDonald: We went ahead and lost a goal and seemed to panic a wee bit, and then when they got a goal back, we just got deeper and deeper and seemed to invite Eriskay on to us. I wasn’t happy with a few things, our goalie getting a red card and missing the cup semi-final on Tuesday, obviously that was a big thing.
It is going to be tough, we are going to have to play a lot better against Saints (in the cup semi-final) At times, I thought we weren’t tight enough against the Eriskay players, we will have to do that better against Saints. Obviously they have better players than Eriskay, so they can hurt us in areas.
Obviously losing our goalkeeper is a really big loss, he has been playing really well for us in the last two or three games, so we will see. I mean it’s (the cup semi-final ) a one-off game. We will have to work hard against Saints, we will have to stop their key players, like Angus Campbell, Joseph MacInnes and Ally Downie from running the game. We’ll have a think over the weekend and try and come up with a plan to stop them.
It’s a two-horse league between Saints and Barra, I think that is always going to be the case, they have strong teams and strong squads and they play good football. They play a high standard of football.
We have a boy from Stornoway, who has moved down, he played for Westside, so he’ll be available for us on Tuesday.
Man of the match: Scott Mackay, Benbecula.
Mackay is an understated yet hugely important player for Benbecula. Scorer of the first goal of the game, Mackay’s deceptive pace and ability to link defence and attack offers a creative outlet for team to counter-attack their opponents. Calum Macmillan for Eriskay also deserves a mention for his inventive attacking play.
Benbecula: J A MacLeod, J Macpherson, M Sloss, J A Skinner, N Macmillan, S Mackay, M MacDonald, D Macpherson, H Macphee, S MacInnes, A Macsween.
Eriskay: S Stephen, N McDonald, M Campbell, S MacKinnon, P Morrison, D MacInnes, J Walker, C Campbell, C Macmillan, M MacInnes, N Revol
Red card: JA MacLeod – Benbecula