2 - 0
2 - 0
Marc MacGregor (41)
Marc MacGregor (62)
Scott Adams for Shaun Wood (52)
Shaun Carroll for Jay Cheyne (52)
Sam Urquhart for Sam Robertson (64)
Jack Henry (73)
Jay Cheyne (23)
Andrew Skinner (33)
Scott Adams (80)
Kevin Fraser (83)
Billy Baxter (Referee)
A strong wind and a bobbly pitch ensured it was never going to be a classic, but Saturday’s victory over Buckie Thistle was nevertheless a highly satisfactory day’s work for Wick Academy as they extended their unbeaten sequence in the Highland League to eight games.
Three days after seeing off Nairn County by the same scoreline, the Scorries kept up their impressive run and boosted their chances of finishing seventh in the table thanks to a well-taken double from in-form striker Marc Macgregor.
With 20 minutes gone, Jack Henry nodded the ball on to Macgregor but the striker’s tame effort was easily gathered by Buckie’s young keeper Lee Herbert – fresh from playing for Scotland under-18s against England in a Centenary Shield match at Inverurie the previous night.
Then a sweeping move ended with Macgregor pulling his shot wide of goal with a Buckie defender getting the last touch.
At the other end, Sam Robertson raced through and drilled a deflected shot just beyond the far post.
Gary Manson delivered a ball over the top to Henry, whose angled drive produced a diving save from Herbert.
The first period looked destined to end in a stalemate, but Macgregor had other ideas.
In the 42nd minute, with the Scorries probing for an opening around the edge of the box, Macgregor neatly evaded the challenge of Shaun Wood before unleashing a powerful drive high past the keeper.
There was still time before the break for the visitors to threaten again. Wood picked out Steven Ross sneaking in at the back post but Sean McCarthy was alert to the danger.
Academy doubled their lead on 62 minutes with a strike that was all about opportunism and improvisation.
Sam Mackay knocked the ball forward and it fell nicely into Macgregor’s path outside the penalty area on the right. The striker was off balance and falling back, with a defender in close attendance, yet he managed to send a wind-assisted lob over Herbert and into the net.
There was a more purposeful look about Academy now and Mackay set up an opening for Richard Macadie, who saw his first attempt blocked before firing a follow-up shot just wide.
When a Buckie free kick came to nothing, Academy raced up-field on the counter-attack and Henry played Macadie through for a drive that was parried by Herbert.
McCarthy ventured out of his box as Buckie pressed forward again and the Wick keeper earned a cheer for a skilful flick of the boot to snuff out the danger.
Match report written by Caithness Courier - Wed, March 27, 2019.
|Sean McCarthy (GK)||25||27||-||163||-|
Interview by Alan Hendry Caithness Courier.
Tom McKenna praised the work ethic of his Wick Academy players as they saw off Buckie Thistle on Saturday to strengthen their bid for a top seven place in the Highland League.
“I thought the effort the lads put in was unbelievable,” the manager said after Marc Macgregor’s double had secured a 2-0 win on a day when a strong wind and a heavy surface combined to make it virtually impossible to play flowing football.
It means the Scorries remain unbeaten in their last eight league games, a run that includes six wins and two draws. Their last league defeat was against Formartine United at the end of December.
“Conditions were difficult. Both sides are known for being good footballing teams but it was very difficult to try and produce any football,” McKenna said.
“But I thought our lads were superb with their work ethic from start to finish and the football they did try to play. I thought we were convincing winners, to be honest.
“We dominated through-out and it was really pleasing to see. It was a fantastic shift by the lads, especially on a heavy pitch. The work-rate was absolutely commendable.
“It takes us a wee bit away from Buckie now. They pressed now and again but we were dominant over the 90 minutes and it was a good convincing three points for us.”
Unbeaten in the league in 2019, McKenna’s men look in good shape as they prepare to face the top two teams – Cove Rangers (away) and Brora Rangers (home) – in their next two fixtures.
“It’s a great run. We have two difficult games coming up, but the lads must be really confident,” the manager said. “The players are in a good place after eight league games undefeated, sitting in seventh place and with games in hand over other teams. They’re winning games quite well.”
McKenna was happy to see Marc Macgregor getting among the goals again.
“He was out for a wee while. He has come back and looks fresh and sharp and he’s enjoying his foot-ball again, which is good,” McKenna said.
“He’s in a rich vein of form at the moment.”
Buckie Thistle’s assistant manager Lewis MacKinnon admitted Academy were the fitter team.
“It was tough conditions, but it was the same for both teams and I think Wick adapted better,” MacKinnon said.
“They played on this pitch a couple of nights ago [a 2-0 win against Nairn on Wednesday] and I thought their legs might go, but actually they were the fitter team and that was one of the things that disappointed me.
“I didn’t think there was much in the game. Just before half-time is never a good time to concede a goal.
“Steven Ross had a good chance but he took a heavy touch – unfortunately that was probably our only chance of the game. In the second half I thought there was a foul on Callum Murray in the box. They broke away and got a bit of luck.
“The big striker just seemed to hang a leg out and the wind took it in, so there was a bit of a fortune there, the rub of the green.
“Nothing really dropped for us. We huffed and puffed. It was a tight game between two teams in mid-table but unfortunately we are carrying on the trend of a good performance one week and then a poorer performance.
“We need more consistency. We had four or five changes from the last game. It was a disappointing day.
“Seventh place is our target as we can’t catch the teams above. We’ve got five games to go after this – very winnable games – so we’ll be going all out to win those and finish seventh. That has become our target.
“We need to finish the season on a high, so we’ll look to get a run of wins together to the end of the season.”