Uist and Barra League Preview
The title and third place are still to be resolved as the final round of fixtures in the league takes place this weekend. Can Barra end their forty year wait for the title? Will Saints make it five titles in a row? Can Benbecula hold on to third spot or will North Uist leapfrog them? Or can Southend gain revenge on their rivals? And will Eriskay end the season on a high with a victory over Saints?
All will be revealed this weekend as the 2015 Uist and Barra League Championship comes to a close.
Friday, 4th September-
Southend (5th v North Uist (4th) (Kick-off 6.45pm at Daliburgh)
DA Lindsay’s team will be looking to end the season with a win against a North Uist team that could be one win away from a third place finish.
The teams meet for the second time in three days, and Southend will look to make amends for a disappointing performance on Tuesday in Paible. The team looked tired and severely lacking in creativity going forward, perhaps the absence of top goal scorer Andrew MacIssac and Duncan MacQuarrie, who were both deployed as centre-backs, from attack played a big part in Southend’s general toothlessness going forward.
Southend weren’t competitive enough, especially in the first half, which is not something usually associated with an otherwise hard working and determined team. Danny Steele and Andrew MacIssac did their best to bring the fight to North Uist, however the rest of the team, with the exception of goalkeeper Innes MacDonald, who performed well despite the scoreline, weren’t at the races.
North Uist, conversely, looked hungry, and the team had a greater desire and tenacity in their play throughout the game. Aside from their goal scoring contributions, Keith MacDonald and Andrew MacQuarrie have both been key to the team in terms of their leadership, enabling the side to play with confidence, purpose and energy.
This game, however, represents a good chance for Southend to end the season on a positive note at home and the opportunity to thwart their rivals from finishing in third place. DA Lindsay will hope to lift his team ahead of the game and can use their performance on Tuesday as motivation to prove that the defeat was not a true reflection of the team’s ability.
For North Uist, a victory could enable them to finish in third place, which would represent a fantastic achievement for John Docherty’s team.
Sunday 6th September
Iochdar Saints (2nd) v Eriskay (6th) – (Kick-off to be confirmed, at Liniclate)
Stephen Macaulay’s team will have to pick themselves up after last week’s defeat to Barra as they prepare to face Eriskay at home. Saints, who have led the table for most of the season, know that even a win might not be enough for them to defend the title.
The nature of their defeat against Barra was probably the most disappointing aspect of their loss, as they let a 1-0 lead slip to lose 3-1.
This season has marked another impressive campaign for Saints as they have already added the Summer Cup to their trophy cabinet and performed admirably in the Highland Amateur Cup, losing out to the eventual winners Wick Groats in the quarter-finals.
The current champions, however, will not be content to finish as runners-up and will no doubt do their utmost to defend their crown.
Eriskay has their own goal of recording what would be only their second win of the campaign. Martin Macaulay’s team has had a tough season and will be looking ahead to next year to improve upon their 6th place position.
Their performances have not always been fairly reflected in their score-lines, but they know that they will have to be at their best to compete with what will be a determined Saints team.
The reigning champions can’t be discounted from defending their title, but it will take a big effort, as well as other results going their way, if they are to make it five league championship wins in a row.
Saturday 5th September
Barra (1st) v Benbecula (3rd) – (Kick-off 12.15pm at Castlebay)
Last Saturday’s victory over Iochdar Saints means that a win over Benbecula at home will clinch the title for Barra, their first in forty years.
The 3-1 win, continued Barra’s recent trend of scoring late goals, a habit that played a big part in their Co-op Cup success this year.
That said, Barra don’t have any room for error. Their lead stands a just a point going into this game, and with Iain MacDonald’s side looking to finish in third place in the league, only a win will definitely suffice if they are to oust Saints as champions.
Their recent defensive record has played a big part in their good run of form of late, with four clean sheets from their last seven games.
Benbecula, despite having to call off their game against North Uist last week, will have a squad ready to go out and take on the champions elect. They have already taken points from Barra, when the teams played out a 3-3 draw earlier in the season.
A draw could be enough for Barra to win the league, Benbecula could finish third even if they lose, however the chances are with Saints and North Uist, respectively, breathing down their necks, both teams will need nothing less than a victory.
Barra, with the title in their own hands, will be looking to complete a historic double. Benbecula will have other plans and will believe that they can cause an upset to end what has been a good season in third place.
By Adam Gordon