Caberfeidh’s battlers have won themselves a place in the Cottages.com MacTavish Cup final, a trophy they have not won for 85 years – yet valiant veteran Kevin Bartlett will be chasing his third winners’ medal.
The Strathpeffer side will face Kingussie for the North’s top trophy at Inverness on June 11 after crushing Skye hopes with a 5-1 semi final success at Portree.
Bartlett and his cousin and international teammate Craig Morrison grabbed all their team’s goals between them to set up a tilt at history for Jodi Gorski and his men.
“Kevin gained MacTavish winners medals when he played for Lovat in 2013 and 2014, so he’s going for the hat trick while the rest of the lads are chasing their first,” said Gorski.
“No one can remember when we last reached the final – it might even have been when we won it in 1937.
“I couldn’t think of a more difficult team to face in the final than Kingussie – but we’ll be giving it everything to end the club’s long wait.”
Skye manager Kenny Macleod said: “We’re in shock after dominating the first half only for Kevin Bartlett to create a superb goal out of nothing in 43 minutes and a minute later John Gillies slips and Craig Morrison finishes nicely and we’re 2-0 down at half time despite having played so well.
“Then straight from the start of the second half Morrison scores again. Bartlett then rubs it in with an unbelievable goal from near the corner flag before Morrison’s third leaves us five down and shattered.
“If these two exceptional players take their chances at Bught Park with the same efficiency, Cabers will genuinely have a real chance to beat Kingussie.”
Skye’s misfortune has mounted as full back John Gillies required hospital treatment for a torn hamstring and he is expected to be out of action for up to 10 weeks, missing a major part of the islanders’ bid to return to the Premiership.
Wing back Martin Pringle came off with a hamstring strain which could sideline him for three weeks.
Cabers goalkeeper Ian McCall pulled off a vital save at 0-0 before the Bartlett-Morrison show cranked into deadly action.
“Kevin is rolling back the years,” said Gorski. “He’s just phenomenal, while Craig’s best is yet to come and he’s such a deadly finisher.
“But credit to the whole team for getting us there. The defensive unit was outstanding – and they’re annoyed at losing a silly last minute goal which spoiled a clean sheet.”
Blair Morrison, Craig’s brother, marshalled the Cabers rearguard while having a rousing personal duel with Skye raider Ross Gordon who acquitted himself very well.
Taylor Matheson grabbed Skye’s consolation on a day when the big crowd seemed muted in the team’s first game since the loss of club chairman Donnie Martin.
But it was a joyful Cabers team bus that headed back to Castle Leod. A club which has not won any trophy in 22 years can now look forward to a major final, with the youngsters hoping that Bartlett, the man who’s won the MacTavish before, can be the talisman who helps bring a silver lining to their cup journey.