WICK ACADEMY 3
ORKNEY AFA 1
THE odour produced by the cattle grazing on pastures nearby was looking like providing a suitable metaphor for Academy’s performance in the first 20 minutes.
For fans expecting to see the slick passing and constant pressure that forced Ross County to buckle at Harmsworth Park the previous week, sloppy didn’t even begin to address the Scorries’ display against the amateurs of Orkney.
Passes were going astray, crosses and long balls were hit aimlessly and the urgency that overwhelmed their more illustrious opponents the previous week had gone AWOL.
None of which was Orkney’s concern. They were on the ball from the first whistle as their pressing game – despite the intense mid-afternoon heat – immediately put Wick on the back foot.
Indeed it was fitting that a spot of Orkney pressing was responsible for giving them the lead, although Wick keeper Sean McCarthy will not want to be reminded of his part.
Having made an error that led to Ross County’s opener the previous week, McCarthy again gifted the opposition the lead. A routine clearance was sliced and fell kindly to Orkney’s Liam Delday who did not need asking twice to hammer the ball into the net.
The goal appeared to wake Academy up and five minutes later they were level.
Sam Mackay’s ball over the top caught out Orkney’s advancing defence, leaving Gordy MacNab to sprint clear. He duly turned his chasing marker and curled in a right-footed beauty past the despairing Cameron McConnachie in the Orkney goal.
Orkney did not let their heads go down and continued to play their pressing game. However, their eagerness in wanting to restore their lead led to them falling behind.
Academy cut out an Orkney attack and quickly broke up the park. MacNab showed his trickery down the left wing to cut inside to the byline before pulling the ball back to Richard Macadie, who thumped the ball into the net with a scorching drive.
Whatever team-talk Orkney received to go out for the second half to retrieve the situation had its balloon burst inside the opening minute.
Wick’s Jack Halliday fired in a bullet of a shot which McConnachie did well to palm away but MacNab was quick to react as he rushed in to convert the rebound.
That seemed to take the sting out of Orkney’s fire as the game soon settled down to walking pace, with Academy keeping possession a lot better than they had in the first half.
Academy nearly had a fourth with seven minutes left as Mackay’s attempt to dink the ball over McConnachie produced a fine one-handed save.
Orkney were denied a consolation deep into injury time when Kyle Drever burst clear to fire into the net only to be wrongly flagged for offside.
Another pre-season victory for Academy but, with Premiership aces Hibs in town on Sunday, all-round improvement will be needed.