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Composed Halkirk take their chances

By Will Clark

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Manager Davie Kirkwood got his first taste of a home game - and defeat - on Tuesday night.
Manager Davie Kirkwood got his first taste of a home game - and defeat - on Tuesday night.


Scorers: Wick: S. Mackay (59). Halkirk: Cowie (82), P. Mackay (87).

WELCOME to Harmsworth Park Mr Kirkwood.

The new Academy manager got his first taste of a home game on Tuesday night. And at the final whistle the squad received a wake-up call about the need for improvement this season.

Last year’s North of Scotland Cup finalists were widely expected to have another chance of challenging for the silverware. But Halkirk United were not the walkover everyone expected and they threw out the form book to record a win.

Caithness’s only representatives left in the cup looked the sharper and more enthusiastic side from start to finish.

Academy’s lack of physicality and killer instinct proved to be vital as they failed to take chances to put the game out of sight.

Davie Kirkwood said what he learned from the evening was that changes needed to be made before tomorrow’s league opener against Clachnacuddin.

“That won’t be the same team that will be playing on Saturday,” he said. “We defeated ourselves, we were one goal up but lacked composure when in control of the ball.

He added: “When teams are in the lead, they should be more calm than we were. It is still a learning curve as I’ve only had four games so far and we’re still in the process of change.

“You want to start the season on a positive note, but maybe this is the wake-up call that we needed. There needs to be more variation width, length and depth. Pretty five-yard football doesn’t get you first prize, not even second prize.

“These things take time, but some of these players don’t have time because they have to fit in a way of play that produces results.”

The Scorries started with no recognised strikers, with David Allan serving a three-match suspension and Gary Weir unavailable to play.

The game didn’t off well for Halkirk when midfielder Grant MacNab was stretchered off after 12 minutes suffering from an ankle injury.

The visitors from the west made the brighter start in the first half and should have taken the lead on the half hour.

Alan Larnach raced past Gary Manson and flung a pass into the box to an unchallenged Nigel Mackenzie who shot wide from eight yards.

Academy could have taken the lead before half-time when Shaun Henderson fumbled a shot from Sam Mackay, causing panic in the box. The ball landed at the feet of Richard Macadie but he blasted it above the bar and ?beyond.

Academy started the stronger in the second half as Halkirk adopted a more defensive 4-5-1 approach.

The opening goal came after 59 minutes when a route-one move from ?Allan Bokas found Macadie in the ?centre circle.

His defence-splitting pass got the better of Stuart Florence and Alan Sinclair to find Sam Mackay who slotted the ball home.

Halkirk changed their formation to a 3-4-3 in the last 25 minutes as they attempted to get back into the game.

It was a move that the Scorries seemed unable to handle and United started to create chances.

The equaliser came in the 82nd minute when substitute Paul Mackay’s shot deflected off Manson to leave David Cowie with an easy tap-in that Alan Bokas could do nothing about.

With the game heading to extra time, Halkirk shocked the home crowd by snatching the winner with three minutes left.

Defender Colin Sinclair dispossessed Ross Allan to send a long ball into the Wick half.

Man of the match Nigel Mackenzie took control and sent the ball into the box for Paul Mackay to score the decisive goal.

Halkirk manager Jocky Mackay hailed his players saying that the win was also a victory for the North Caledonian League.

“It was an absolutely superb night for Halkirk United,” he said. “You could not fault the boys for their work rate, they kept their shape and composure.

“Wick had a lot of possession in the first half, but we were the only side that seemed to create chances. Even going a goal down in the second half they kept their cool and went about getting the win – I can’t praise them enough.”

Wick Academy: Bokas, M. Steven, Manson, Farquhar, G. Steven, Shearer, Gunn, Mackay (Allan 75), Ross (McKiddie 64), Macadie, Cunningham. Subs not used: Sinclair, More.

Halkirk United: Henderson, C. Sinclair, Florence, A. Sinclair, Davidson, Cowie, Henderson (Cook 75), MacNab (Bremner 13), Mackenzie, Sutherland (Mackay 70), Larnach. Subs not used: Budge, Howden.

Referee: Graham Fraser.

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