WAFC 1 - Ross County 5
|31st August 2010 - Craig Shearer Testimonial||Harmsworth Park, Wick|
|Wick Academy F.C.||1 (David Allan 14)|
Team: James More, Shaun Sinclair(Allan Forbes 82), Gary Manson, Alan Farquhar(Gordon Robertson 86), Andrew MacLeod(Michael Steven 46), Craig Shearer(Gordie Reid 77), Bryan McKiddie(Ross Allan 62), Sam Mackay, David Allan(Gary Weir 46), Richard Macadie(Greg Shearer 71), Stevie Cunningham(David Cowie 46).
Subs: Davie Cowie, Alex Lamb, Gary Weir, Michael Steven, Ross Allan, Martin Gunn, Gordon Robertson, Gordie Reid, Allan Forbes, Greg Shearer.
|Ross County F.C.||5 (Garry Wood 50, 52, 74, Iain Vigors 59, Archie McPhee 70)|
Team: Joe Mallin, Paul Lawson(Scott Boyd 46), Archie MacPhee, Stuart Kettlewell, Gary Miller, Darren McCormack(John Budge 82), Paul Di Giacomo(Michael Gardyne 82), Steven Ross, Garry Wood, Iain Vigors, Darren Smith.
Subs: Scott Boyd, Mark Corcoran, Martin Scott, Michael Gardyne, Richard Brittain, Michael McGovern, John Budge.
|Match Sponsors Man of the Match:||Craig Shearer|
|Reporter:|| Ken Wood
Ross County brought a strong squad to Harmsworth Park on Tuesday evening for Craig Shearer's Testimonial match, with most of their Hampden Scottish Cup Final players on view.
As a crowd of about 320 gathered on a fine late summer evening the teams were piped onto the field. Shearer, after a couple of seasons with the youth team, has been a first team regular for 12 years making 367 appearances and netting his 50th goal in last Tuesday's 3-1 North cup semi final win against Caley Thistle. It is likely, however, that for the Academy midfielder, who turned 30 at the end of June, one of his most cherished memories will be that of carrying the team mascot, his daughter Katie, onto the park before this game.
Academy's players gave a good account of themselves especially during the first half though ultimately County displayed the class and power expected from the SFL Division 1 team.
After ten minutes or so of passing and probing by both teams it was Academy who made the breakthrough. Davie Allan ran onto a pass from Richard Macadie and chipped it over keeper Joe Malin.
Shearer's side continued their exhibition of flowing football, confident that the County defenders were for the most part content to shadow them rather than tackle. Bryan McKiddie set up Macadie whose drive to the bottom corner was pushed round the post by Malin diving to his left.
After 20 minutes we at last saw County as an attacking force when Paul Di Giacomo nodded the ball down in the box to the feet of Gary Wood. James More deputising for the injured Alan Bokas came quickly off his line to grab the ball. More then had to push away Wood's powerful ten yard volley before Di Giacomo's lob from the left drifted just past the top of the back post.
Academy's efforts were several times thwarted by the offside flag though Malin was tested with a few long range shots and made another fine save to deflect a Macadie drive wide.
Half Time 1 - 0
The Scorries had matched the Staggies for the first half but it was a different story after the break. Within a couple of minutes a drive from Di Giacomo crashed against the middle of the bar and in the next raid Wood slotted the equaliser low past More from 10 yards. After a further two minutes County took the lead when Steven Ross headed the ball down over the line from close range. Before the hour Ian Vigurs drilled a low shot to More's left to make it 3-1.
Academy fans relished a moment of Sam Mackay magic when the midfielder weaved his way through a group of County players and chipped the ball ahead of Davie Cowie. Showing the County rearguard a clean pair of heels, Cowie sprinted down the right and cut in to fire a shot at the near top corner of the goal, Malin stretching to fingertip the ball over the bar.
In the 70th minute Archie MacPhee aimed a real humdinger at the top corner of the Academy net and although More got a touch he could not keep it out.
Ross completed the scoring when he steered in a pass from Darren McCormack.
As co managers Ian Munro and Richard Hughes rang the changes to give Shearer's friends and former team mates a taste of the action the most generous applause of the evening was for Craig himself when he came off after 77 minutes, Gordie Reid taking his place.
The exchanges had all been very friendly, with little physical contact, but that changed momentarily when McCormack took exception to Gary Weir prancing up the left wing and wrestled the Academy striker to the ground.
Shearer's former youth team colleague Alan Forbes came on among a flurry of 82nd minute changes and there was a warm welcome for former Scorries' favourite Gordon Robertson when he entered the fray for the last five minutes. The club's first big money signing in 1995, previously a stalwart for Keiss and Brora, Robertson was a much admired midfielder until his appearances were restricted by a knee injury from December 1998. Shearer made his debut at Brora on Boxing Day that year taking over the number eight shirt worn by Robertson in the previous match at home to Lossiemouth.
Full Time 1 - 5
Appropriately - or do I mean inevitably? - Shearer was chosen Man of the Match and after receiving his memento said: "It was a fantastic evening for me. It was just amazing from start to finish. I'm very grateful to Alistair Ross and the rest of the Testimonial Committee for all their hard work to fix up this game. It was good of Ross County to come up and a great experience for us to play against a side of their quality. I even got to help pick our team! As well as our usual squad I invited a few of my friends. They all came on towards the end and actually played quite well." Of the game he said: "The first half was brilliant. I think it was beyond our expectations to go in a goal up. County showed their true abilities in the second half and in the end we were well beaten." Shearer also thanked the supporters and pledged that half of the proceeds will be donated to local charities including, it is understood, the Henderson Maternity Wing of Caithness General Hospital.
Ross County manager Derek Adams said: "It was a great evening. Craig told us that he appreciates that we have travelled all the way up to Wick and we are very happy to have made the journey and been part of such an enjoyable occasion. Even the weather was kind to us! There was a good turn out for Craig. He has served Academy well for so many years and tonight folk showed their appreciation for his efforts." Adams affirmed that from a football point of view it was worthwhile too. "Wick played some excellent football but we had more possession in the second half and I was pleased for a couple of our younger players, 17 year olds, Steven Ross and Archie MacPhee who played the 90 minutes and scored goals. We also had some senior players who had not been playing for a wee while so it was valuable playing time for them."
Gordon Robertson said: "I remember Craig coming into the team as a youngster. Since then he has always been a dedicated player and has done well. I was delighted to be asked along and it was good to get on the park for the last few minutes."
At a short reception held after the game at the Seaforth Highlanders' Club, Alistair Ross thanked everyone who had made the evening a success and on behalf of the Craig Shearer Testimonial Committee presented the Ross County manager with an engraved bottle of Old Pulteney, saying;" It was an excellent night. We applaud Ross County for fulfilling their promise of bringing a strong team - they have been absolutely brilliant ambassadors. From a Caithness and Wick Academy point of view we are thrilled that they helped make the match such a fine event in honour of Craig Shearer who deserved it. The result was the only downside - but we won the first half!"
Pictured receiving his award from James Innes of match sponsor Achairn Energy