Wick Academy 0
Cove Rangers 1

Wick Academy
0 - 1
Cove Rangers 

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009
Harmsworth Park
3:00 PM Kick-off

None. Barrie Stephen (82)

Team Managers
Ian Munro & Richard Hughes

Starting Eleven
James More
Shaun Sinclair
Andrew MacLeod
Bryan McKiddie
Martin Gunn
Stevie Cunningham
Richard Macadie
Stewart Ross
Gary Weir
David Allan
David Cowie
Stuart McKenzie
Murray McCulloch
Neil Cruickshank
Clark Bain
Ritchie Livingstone
Kevin Tindal
Barrie Stephen
Paul Tosh
Martin Johnston
Robbie Henderson
Dean Lawrie

Alex Lamb
Craig Shearer
Nigel MacKenzie
Gary Farquhar
Gary Manson
Jerry O'Driscoll
David Smith
Kevin Webster
Phil McKibben
Lee Windrum

Craig Shearer for David Allan (71)
Nigel MacKenzie for Bryan McKiddie (78)
Gary Manson for Shaun Sinclair (85)
Phil McKibben for Paul Tosh (60)
David Smith for Robbie Henderson (78)

Shaun Sinclair (17)
Gary Weir (34)
David Allan (64)
Dean Lawrie (34)
Murray McCulloch (69)

Red Cards
None. Neil Cruickshank (46)
Match Officials

Craig Sim (Referee)

Match Report

Cove won the league today for the second year on the spin after beating Academy by a signal goal, but they were made to work all the way for the 3 points. The win ended Academy's amazing 10 league game unbeaten run. The Toonsers are the first side to win back to back league titles since Huntly in 1996/97 & 1997/98.

There was a bumper crowd at the Harmsworth Park, including a big travelling support, and they witnessed a hard-fought game. Academy had their chances to win the contest and things looked promising for the Scorries after Neil Cruickshank was given a straight red card minutes after the second half re-start for a trip on David Allan who would have been clean through on goal, but a Barrie Steven goal in the 82nd minute proved to be the only difference between the two sides.

Academy started the game playing up the Harmsworth slope but Cove were the first to show some menace in the 4th minute when Barrie Steven stormed down the wing and cut inside the Academy defence but Shaun Sinclair timed his tackle perfectly to cut out the danger.

5 minutes later Stewart Ross fired a long throw-in into the Cove box which Weir flicked on. It fell to Richard Macadie and he hit it on the volley but Murray McCulloch got his body in the way to make a block.

Cove looked nervy in the opening quarter, but had a good chance to open the scoring with 23 minutes on the clock. Barrie Stephen once again flew down the wing and delivered a perfect cross into the box for Paul Tosh but he just failed to get contact with his attempted header and the ball took a touch off Andrew Macleod and went round the post for a corner.

4 minutes from the break David Allan was in the face of the Cove back line and intercepted an attempted pass. He threaded the ball through the middle of the defence for Weir who went in on goal but keeper Stuart McKenzie was off his line in a flash and met Weir head-on for a brave block with his feet. Both players got a clatter in the challenge but escaped un-hurt.

As the seconds of the first half ticked down Cove almost took the lead. Cove won a corner that was fired across goal and was half-cleared. The ball fell to Barrie Stephen on the edge of the box and he smacked it on the volley but Andrew MacLeod put his body on the line with a terrific defensive block.

Half Time 0 - 0

Within a minute of the re-start Cove went down to 10 men. David Allan was sent clean through the heart of the Cove defence from a McKiddie pass and Neil Cruickshank clipped his heels in an attempt to get back at him. Referee Sim had no hesitation in flashing a red card and Cruickshank headed for an early bath. Cove did have two other defenders tracking back but it would have been debatable if they would have caught Allan, so the decision looked to be the correct call.

This clicked the atmosphere in the Harmsworth Park up a notch and Martin Gun had the crowd on their feet a minute later. McKiddie once again provided a perfect pass to tee up Gunn and he drove a 30 yard pile-driver towards goal that dipped and swerved but flew just inches over McKenzie's cross-bar.

That was followed my a great run by McKiddie who took on the Cove back-four and advanced right to the edge of the box before pulling the trigger. This time it was Ritchie Livingston's turn to put his body on the line as he equalled MacLeod's earlier defensive block.

Just before the hour mark Academy had their best chance of the game. Richard Macadie turned his man about 23 yards from goal and fired a dipping shot on target that beat keeper McKenzie but crashed back off the face of the cross-bar. Weir ran in for the re-bound and from 6 yards out he fired his header straight at the keeper who made a safe catch. Three feet to either side would have resulted in an almost certain goal.

Cove had a half-sniff at goal in the 65th minute when Barrie Steven fired a good strike on the turn just past More's right hand upright.

2 minutes later Cove almost opened the scoring. A long high ball was punted into the Academy box. The ball bounced over the top of Stewart Ross and Robbie Henderson nipped in before More could collect the ball but he sent his headed attempt just wide of the target.

Cove were fortunate not to have another man sent off in the 69th minute when Murray McCulloch went straight through David Allan on the half-way line, but referee Sim deemed it only deserving of a yellow.

Allan, who had worked his socks off all game, was substituted a minute later for Craig Shearer.

Shearer was involved from the first minute of coming on as he slipped a pass into the path of Weir but the young striker couldn't keep his shot down and it flew over the top of the Cove goal.

Minutes later McKiddie linked up with Macadie in a great passing move but Macadie's shot was saved by McKenzie.

Cove took the lead with 82 minutes played. The ball was played to the edge of the Academy box from a long throw-in. The Scorries failed to clear the danger and Barrie Stephen took it into feet and rifled a low shot past the right hand of More and into the corner of the net. That sparked a massive celebration from the Cove bench and travelling support as they sensed that the league title was within their grasp.

0 - 1

Academy however continued to show the fighting spirit that earned them their 10 win unbeaten run, and continued to push to try to get back on level terms. With 4 minutes left they came very close to doing just that. They won a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Macadie laid it off to Ross who smacked it on the run and the ball flew inches wide of McKenzie's upright.

Full time 0 - 1

So the 3 points were enough for Cove to clinch the league but Academy gave a good account of themselves and they made them work all the way for their title flag. The battle for 5th place in the league is far from over as Buckie drew with Nairn today. Academy have their last game away to Brora on the 9th May, and Buckie play Forres on the 16th. A win for Academy against Brora would leave Buckie also needing to win their game as the two teams fight to the last games over 5th spot.

Match report written by John Briskham

Squad Statistics (as at May 2nd, 2009)

2008/2009 All Time
James More (GK)20 20 - 80 -
Shaun Sinclair - 27 - 105 -
Andrew MacLeod - 31 - 2395
Bryan McKiddie - 343793
Stewart Ross - 28213216
Richard Macadie22 351513131
Stevie Cunningham - 315315
Martin Gunn - 20135770
David Cowie - 36318310
David Allan19 173173
Gary Weir11 351916453
Nigel MacKenzie (sub) - 28423337
Craig Shearer (sub) - 31732441
Gary Manson (sub)25 29226827

League Table (as at May 2nd, 2009)

Pld W D L +/- Pts
1. Cove Rangers 27 21 4 2 +69 67
2. Deveronvale 27 18 7 2 +48 61
3. Inverurie Locos 27 17 3 7 +33 54
4. Keith 27 17 2 8 +25 53
5. Buckie Thistle 27 15 4 8 +25 49
6. WICK 27 15 3 9 +7 48
7. Huntly 28 14 4 10 +11 46
8. Fraserburgh 27 12 8 7 +14 44
9. Nairn County 28 12 5 11 -1 41
10. Forres Mech 27 11 7 9 +19 40
11. Clachnacuddin 27 8 7 12 -4 31
12. Lossiemouth 28 7 4 17 -24 25
13. Brora Rangers 26 2 3 21 -67 9
14. Rothes 27 1 4 22 -57 7
15. Fort William 26 0 1 25 -98 1