Newtonmore captain Steven MacDonald paid tribute to his team-mates for taking the Artemis Macaulay Cup holders through to host Lovat in the quarter-finals – and for the resilience which has given the club its best defensive start to a season in years.
Chris Hollysong’s early goal for Kingussie was only the second More have conceded in open play this season and the first since at Kyles on March 19, after which the Premiership champions reeled off five blank sheets.
They bounced back from that early setback to win 2-1 at the Dell and Mac-Donald said: “We just got over the line in a very close affair. We didn’t hit our best form and showed too many nerves at times in our hitting. Kingussie played hard but once again our defence stayed strong.”
Joining the captain in the back four were centre half Rory Kennedy, 24 last month, and wing backs Michael Russell, 22, and Andy Mackintosh, 25.
Manager Paul John Mackintosh said: “The defence has been magnificent all season, giving confidence to the rest of the team.”
Fitness instructor MacDonald, 26, added: “We’ve all grown up together, we’re friends who became team-mates and that helps us gel as a defensive unit.”
MacDonald praised new goalkeeper Owen Fraser, who had a couple of important stops in his first Badenoch derby: “Owen’s settled in very quickly and helps us by being a good talker.”
Kenny Ross, at 46, made his Macaulay Cup debut in Newtonmore’s midfield and gave a calm and strong 70-minute contribution. Evan Menzies equalised in 22 minutes with his eighth goal of the season and four minutes later Chris Sellar scored what proved to be the winner.
“Give Newtonmore credit, they got the job done in a very tight tussle,” said Kingussie co-manager Russell Jones. “Things ebbed and flowed in the second half when Fraser made two good saves while, for us, Craig Dawson had a point-blank stop.
“We pushed Savio Genini back to wing centre where he was very good, while wing back James Falconer had an excellent contest with their young forward Iain Robinson. Louis Munro travelled from Stranraer to help us and showed what we’re missing when he is not available.
“Ryan Borthwick suffered a setback in training, Fraser Munro was at a wedding and Gary Munro has a hamstring problem, so, with Calum Grant and Rory MacEachan already out, we were stretched but it was encouraging.
“Although disappointed to be out of the cup, we showed we’re not far away and we should have a couple of players back for the league match against Newtonmore at the Eilan.”