Academy fight back in heated encounter
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WICK ACADEMY 3 - 3 CLACHNACUDDIN
Scorers – Wick: Weir (14, 61), M. Steven (42). Clach: Pollock (1, 4), B. MacLeod (16).
WEEK one of the 2011-12 Scottish Highland Football League kicked off on Saturday.
Already there may not be a better game for the rest of the season than this one at Harmsworth Park.
Both Wick Academy and Clachnacuddin suffered disappointing campaigns last term which saw them finish in the lower end of the table.
It was clear they had a point to prove this year in what was a bad-tempered encounter.
With 32 fouls and four yellow cards perhaps the most surprising statistic is the referee never pulled the colour red out of his pocket.
But for all the negative points, the positives outshone them in what was a great advert for the Highland League.
Davie Kirkwood was without the striking talent of David Allan who was serving the second game of a three-match ban after being sent off in a pre-season tussle against Thurso.
He welcomed back Gary Weir into the starting line-up and his physical presence proved crucial in the outcome of the match.
Clachnacuddin had their own problems; Ian Polworth was forced to make four changes to the side which beat Golspie Sutherland in the North of Scotland Cup midweek.
Academy, who were knocked out of the competition by North Caledonian League champions Halkirk United last Tuesday, still looked stunned by the result as the visitors took less than 60 seconds to open their account.
The Lilywhites rampaged their way up the slope from kick-off as Gordon Morrison unleashed a ferocious shot which keeper Alan Bokas did well to parry.
The rebound fell straight at the feet of Allan Pollock who sent the away fans into delirium by scoring.
Pollock doubled his tally three minutes later when Academy veteran Stewart Ross failed to control a pass-back which bobbled past him.
Pollock was too fast for Ross to cope with as he calmly shot past Bokas.
Alan Farquhar responded with a surging run from halfway and was brought down outside the box by Scott Morrison.
Richard Macadie’s free kick found the head of Weir who used his physical advantage to pull one back.
Hopes of a revival were short-lived though as once again poor defensive judgement cost the home side.
Gordon Morrison took the initiative spearheading an instant attack to send the ball into the Wick half.
A lack of communication between Ross and Craig Shearer was seized upon by Brian MacLeod who picked up the loose ball to fire past a frustrated Bokas. Clach were fortunate not to be down to 10 men after a high foot from Neil Macleod-MacDonald floored Weir who was caught in the chest. Referee Calum Spence showed leniency by bringing out only yellow.
Wick got their second goal of the game just before half-time.
From a corner Stevie Cunningham picked out Farquhar in the far end who chipped it into the box to find Michael Steven’s head to bring the deficit back to one.
The comeback was complete just after the hour mark when Michael Steven zoomed down the right wing to cross in the box to a fired-up Weir, whose finishing touch pulled the game level.
Wick dominated the rest of the match and could have won it in injury time but Michael Steven failed to get a foot on a cross four yards from goal.
Clach also could have taken three points when a quick goal kick from Steven Dunn resulted in a move which found Gordon Morrison clear on goal. But his 35-yard effort forced a fine save from Bokas.
Both teams will wonder how they didn’t come away with three points, but were satisfied to take away a share of the spoils.
Wick Academy: Bokas, M. Steven, Manson, Ross, G. Steven, Shearer, Farquhar, Mackay, Weir, Macadie (Gunn 82) Cunningham. Subs not used: Sinclair, McKiddie, Allan, More.
Clachnacuddin: Dunn, Finnis, Callum, Scott-Woodhouse, Williamson, B. MacLeod, Macleod-MacDonald (MacDonald 77), Pollock, G. Morrison, Milne (Dougall 65), S. Morrison.
Subs not used: MacLeod, Smith, Donaldson.