2 - 0
SFA Challenge Cup (1st Round)
Neil Gauld (46)
Bruce Cormie (74)
Ian Munro & Richard Hughes
Gary McGowan for Ross McWilliam (81)
Neil Reid for Neil Gauld (81)
Martin Sutherland for Sean Henstridge (80)
Greg Shearer for Neil Traill (84)
Roddy Cobb (Referee)
Academy are out of the new SFA Challenge Cup after Saturday’s defeat at Christie Park.
An under-strength team proved to be more than a match for the hosts in the first period, but they fell behind to a stunning Neil Gauld free kick on the stroke of half-time and Bruce Cormie made the tie safe with a quarter of an hour to go.
With five likely first-choice players unavailable, Wick’s remaining squad members became automatic starters along with student Neil Traill and there was a surprise recall for Sean Henstridge, who played for the under-18s six years ago.
Play in the opening quarter of an hour went from end to end. An early corner for Huntly led to a Wick free kick for a push by Cormie and then David Cowie made a couple of solo raids on the left.
Ross McWilliam raced down the right touchline to win a second corner which was headed clear of the goalmouth by Stewart Ross. Gauld whipped in a 30-yard free kick from the Huntly left which was blocked by Andrew MacLeod, Gary Farquhar neatly sidestepping Russell Guild on the 18-yard line to coolly escort the ball to midfield.
With Alan Sinclair defending well on the right and Craig Shearer working hard between the two penalty boxes, Academy looked the better team for much of the first half. Despite his limited experience at this level, 17-year-old Bryan McKiddie was playing intelligently and inventively. Attacking on the right, he jinked his way past two defenders before switching the ball inside to Gary Manson, who fired it just over the bar.
The first effort on target came in the 19th minute when James More moved smartly to his right and competently held a waist-high 25-yard drive by Guild. Then, when McWilliam cut in from the right and drove the ball low into the goalmouth, it deflected off Guild’s foot for a Wick goal kick.
Academy attacked through the middle and Manson played a one-two with Shearer before unleashing a drive towards the top corner of the goal. Stretching high to his right, keeper Ross Buchanan made a fine save.
McKiddie was held back by Alan Redford as he wriggled his way along the touchline and Farquhar drove the free kick to the back post. Henstridge leapt to head the ball but could not direct it on target.
The 25th minute brought the first serious threat from the home side and a double let-off for Academy. First Guild miskicked from eight yards with the goal at his mercy and then Cormie headed wide from five yards.
When Cowie switched to the right and ran clear before crossing the ball towards Henstridge, Steven Craib deflected it away from the striker and out for the first of a series of Wick corners.
On the half-hour mark accurate passes in the area by Shearer and Henstridge set up a chance for Farquhar, who was unlucky to see his drive diverted for a corner on the left.
A quick break by McWilliam took play just into the Wick half where he was obstructed by Traill. Gauld swerved a left-footed free kick into the goalmouth and when it came back to him he shot wide.
When a massed Academy defence broke up a Huntly attack 25 yards out with only seconds of the first half remaining, it looked as though the teams would go in for their break at 0-0. However, there was just time for Craib to run in from the Huntly left pursued by Cowie, who saw enough of the ball to try a sliding tackle only to trip his opponent two yards outside the area.
Keeper More had no chance when Gauld struck a perfect free kick, bending it just beyond the Wick defensive wall and inside the back post into the top corner of the net.
Only three minutes into the second half Gauld scorned a chance to double Huntly’s tally, chipping the ball inches wide from 14 yards.
Ross, Sinclair and McKiddie combined to attack on the right but McKiddie’s well-flighted cross bounced off Ross Campbell’s back with Farquhar well placed only a few feet away.
McWilliam and Guild worked the ball through the middle and into the feet of Cormie, who tumbled trying to create space in a crowded penalty area. The longest-serving referee in the North, Roddy Cobb, was amused but not impressed by this theatrical performance and waved play on.
In the 63rd minute More dived to his left to save a low shot from Guild. The Tigers were going for the kill and a looping header from Cormie just cleared the top corner of the goal.
A great defensive header by Sinclair diverted McWilliam’s cross and when the resultant corner came over from the left Shearer’s head helped it on its way out to the far side. Huntly soon retrieved it for McWilliam and this time his back-post cross was headed wide by the diving Cormie.
Yet another McWilliam cross was slapped away by More, with Shearer completing the clearance.
Academy had a brief respite when McKiddie was fouled in the Huntly half and Farquhar hoisted the free kick into the goalmouth. However, Shearer was penalised for sliding in to reach a loose ball 25 yards out.
While Academy’s now infrequent attacks lacked a cutting edge, the home team were attacking regularly and incisively. A drive by Guild shaved More’s left-hand upright and another effort from the same player drifted wide.
Traill and then Manson dealt with the next Huntly threats but Manson’s long clearance was cut out before it reached Henstridge. Gauld drove the ball forward into the Wick area where Cormie had space to turn and steer it low past More.
Two-nil down with 15 minutes left, a Wick recovery seemed unlikely. Ross had a crack from 30 yards, close enough to the target to earn sympathetic applause, as did McKiddie from 25 yards. Then a Farquhar shot deflected high into the air and gave Buchanan an easy catch.
At the other end, MacLeod did well to tackle Guild just as he lined up a shot and then the Wick defender stood firm to earn a free kick. when Huntly players piled in for the arrival of the ball from the corner kick. Seventeen-year-olds Martin Sutherland and Greg Shearer joined the fray for the last few minutes, making useful if brief contributions.
Match report written by Ken Wood
|James More (GK)||18||3||-||34||-|
|Greg Shearer (sub)||-||1||-||1||-|
|Martin Sutherland (sub)||-||2||-||2||-|