Brora players should be 'immensely proud' of their efforts, says Mackay
BRORA player/manager Steven Mackay says his team should be “immensely proud” after pushing Cove Rangers all the way in the Highland League title race.
He was speaking after the Cattachs rounded off their campaign with a 0-0 draw against Wick Academy at Harmsworth Park on Wednesday night.
Remarkably it was Brora’s 25th clean sheet in their 34 league fixtures and Mackay suspects this could well be a record. He also confirmed that moves are already being made to strengthen the Dudgeon Park squad for next season.
Brora had most of the pressure in the north derby but had to settle for a share of the points after Ally MacDonald was sent off on 73 minutes for a second bookable offence when he brought down Sam Mackay.
“I thought we controlled it for large parts, although I felt our final ball probably let us down,” Mackay said. “We didn’t create as many chances as we would have liked, but we restricted Wick to very few chances in the first half.
“I felt the red card was a bit harsh. Ally MacDonald only made two tackles the whole game. I get that the boy was breaking, but he actually tried to pull out of the challenge.
“We were reduced to 10 men and they came into it, as you’d expect, and they created a couple of chances. I think on the balance of play we did edge it, but I don’t think we showed enough quality to win the game.
“That’s our 25th clean sheet of the season in the league out of 34 games, so I said to the guys after the game they should be immensely proud of that. I’m not sure if a team has gone a season with as many clean sheets. It just shows the competitiveness of the league where you can have 25 clean sheets, only lose 12 goals, and still not win it.
“We accrued 85 points this season, we had 63 last season, so we’re up 22 points. From where we were last season to where we are now I’m immensely happy and proud of the response of the players.”
Brora were already guaranteed to finish as runners-up after Cove retained the title with a 1-0 win at Forres on Saturday. Despite being unbeaten since the end of October, Mackay’s men fell just short in the battle for supremacy between the league's outstanding two sides – each boasting a miserly defence.
“I just think at times in games we’ve probably lacked that killer touch, that clinical edge that a Brora team has had previously throughout the last few years,” he said.
“There’s plenty for us to be positive about and build on.
“It’s just unfortunate that we’re going to finish second with 85 points whereas in other years that would be enough to win the league. It just goes to show how well Cove have done this season, so congratulations must go to them.
“We’ve been unbeaten since October 27 so that just shows you how tight this league is if you want to win it.”
Mackay added: “We’ve been looking ahead to next season already, looking at the squad and the areas that we can strengthen. We’re looking at that and we’re making some enquiries.
“We’ve run a pretty lean squad all season and we’ve had a few injuries when we’ve been down to the bare bones some weeks. It’s a lot to ask the players to play 35 or 40 games including cup games in a season.
“Everyone will enjoy their break – it’s well earned – and we will look forward to next pre-season.”