Academy continue to pile up points as Allan hat-trick sinks Keith
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After Wick Academy had come from behind to secure a morale-boosting 4-3 win at Huntly on November 20, the Scorries' manager Gary Manson took a look at the fixture list and declared: “We've got a half-decent run of games coming up now so we should be looking to pile points on the board.”
His players have duly obliged. Saturday's 3-2 victory over Keith means Academy have picked up 21 points from a possible 24 in their last eight Highland League outings. It was the fifth time this season Wick had come from behind to win a game, with Davie Allan's hat-trick doing the damage against the Maroons.
Both sides were depleted by injuries and call-offs but they served up an entertaining encounter at Harmsworth Park.
The Scorries opened the scoring inside two minutes when Mark Macadie played the ball over the top to Sean Campbell in acres of space. Campbell's effort on goal was blocked by keeper Jamie Shingler but Allan was on hand to drill home the rebound.
Jack Halliday then delivered a great pass to Macadie who found Allan inside the box, but the forward was crowded out and could only drag his shot wide.
A corner by Gary Manson brought a header from Danny Mackay which Shingler needed two attempts to hold.
At the bottom end, Scott Gray evaded the offside trap and chipped the ball just over the bar from a tight angle.
Halliday was pulling the strings in midfield and his through ball picked out Campbell who raced towards goal only to put his shot past the near post.
Early in the second half Academy came close to doubling their lead when Halliday, Allan and Macadie combined to create an opening for Gordon MacNab whose first-time effort went wide.
The Maroons were beginning to pose more of a threat and Scott Gray headed past from a Kieran Mooney cross.
There was a setback for Wick when Campbell injured an ankle and had to be helped off.
Keith's equaliser arrived on the hour mark after they launched an attack up the right. Academy were unable to clear their lines and Michael Selfridge was presented with a free header directly in front of goal.
Gray again nodded wide from a good position before James Brownie put the visitors ahead with an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box with 66 minutes gone.
Keith's lead lasted only two minutes, though. Halliday let fly with a low shot which Shingler could only parry, and Allan was onto it in a flash to make it 2-2.
Allan struck again on 83 minutes. This time he controlled a pass from MacNab before placing a composed finish high past Shingler into the far corner.
The hat-trick hero almost had a fourth soon after when he hooked the ball over from a cross by substitute Alan Mathieson. Halliday also had an attempt at putting the issue beyond doubt with a well-struck shot that flew just past.
Wick Academy: More, Hughes, R Allan, J Anderson, Mackay, Manson, Campbell (Mathieson 55), Halliday, MacNab (R Macadie 87), D Allan, M Macadie (C Farquhar 90). Subs not used: Bain, Munro, Miller.
Keith: Shingler, Ross, Yeats, Thomas, Robertson, Yunus, Gray (McKeown 69), Brownie, Selfridge, Killoh (Ironside 86), Mooney. Subs not used: Harries, Crichton, Irvine.
Referee: Harry Bruce.
Brechin City's hopes of an instant return to the Scottish Professional Football League suffered another setback on Saturday as they were beaten 1-0 by Formartine United.
Five days after their 5-3 collapse to Fraserburgh, Brechin were again left empty-handed after Graeme Rodger struck the only goal around the half-hour mark at North Lodge Park.
Formartine manager Paul Lawson said: "I am delighted with the win. We had to defend well and credit to the boys as they worked really hard.
"We have to make sure the players keep their concentration for the full 90 minutes.”
All other games were called off because of either Covid-19 issues or frozen pitches.
Highland League fixtures for Saturday: Brechin City v Fort William; Buckie Thistle v Formartine United; Deveronvale v Wick Academy; Inverurie Locos v Fraserburgh; Keith v Strathspey Thistle; Lossiemouth v Forres Mechanics; Nairn County v Brora Rangers; Rothes v Huntly; Turriff United v Clachnacuddin.