Damage was done in first half, admits Wick boss McKenna after defeat at Huntly
TOM McKenna admitted his players failed to deal with Huntly’s physical prowess as Wick Academy slumped to a 3-2 defeat on Saturday.
“The damage was done in the first half,” the manager said after watching the Scorries’ four-game unbeaten Highland League run come to an end at Christie Park. “It really gave us a mountain to climb.
“Huntly were just a big, physical team and we couldn’t cope with it. We couldn’t settle into the game at all.”
A free kick led to Ashley Ballam’s opener for the home side after 13 minutes. Craig Gunn levelled on 33 minutes but Huntly got themselves in front again seven minutes later when Ballam headed in from a corner, and Glenn Murison extended the lead in first-half stoppage time.
Sam Mackay handed Academy a lifeline when he pulled one back on 73 minutes but Huntly held on for their first league win of the season at the ninth attempt.
We couldn’t control possession of the ball and it just didn’t go right for us.
“We warned the lads to minimise the set-pieces in the defensive third,” McKenna said. “But we conceded two goals from set-pieces and the third one was a shot from outside the box.
“I said to the lads at half-time we need to get ourselves back in the game and, if nothing else, win the second half.
“Three points would have taken us up to joint seventh in the league and would have kept the wee run going.
“It was really, really disappointing. Huntly had been struggling for results and that was their first win of the season.
“The first half we just didn’t turn up at all. We couldn’t control possession of the ball and it just didn’t go right for us.
“In the second half I thought the lads were back to themselves. We controlled the second half. We had a massive percentage of possession and chances created – we just weren’t clinical enough.
“Richie [Macadie] had a great chance in the first five minutes – it just fell to his left-hand side, his weaker side. Had it been on his right-hand side he would probably have put it away.
“That would have given the lads a big lift and I think we would have gone on to win the game. We dominated the second half.”
The result means Academy have still kept only one clean sheet this season in all competitions.
“We do concede goals quite easily,” the manager admitted. “That’s not being disrespectful, I’m not having a go at anyone. We’re a forward-thinking team and we seem quite vulnerable at times.
“I’m the first one to praise the back four and stick up for them, but on Saturday they looked like they hadn’t played together before.
“We just didn’t settle at all as a back four and that puts pressure on you.
“I thought the back four we had would be nice and solid but it wasn’t to be, unfortunately.”
Academy had gone into the game on a good run of form, September having brought three wins and a drawn from their four league fixtures. However, several key players remain sidelined by injury and forward Davie Allan became the latest casualty last week.
McKenna is confident there will be some improvement on the injury front in time for this Saturday’s trip to Rothes.
The Scorries remain eighth in the table, level with Keith who were beaten 4-0 by Rothes.
Huntly: Farquhar, Manson, Ballam, Herd (Ritchie 77), Thoirs, L Macdonald, Still, Meres (McKeown 87), Murison, Ross (Esslemont 68), Milne. Subs not used: Jack, Storrier, M McDonald, Matthew.
Wick Academy: McCarthy, Manson, Farquhar, D Mackay, R Allan, Halliday, S Mackay, Hughes, R Macadie, MacNab (Campbell 53), Gunn. Subs not used: Aitkenhead, Martens, M Macadie, More.
Referee: Darren Munro.
Buckie Thistle claimed top spot in the Highland League after a 3-1 home victory over Forres Mechanics. Scott Adams struck twice for the Jags, with Sam Robertson getting the other, while Lee Fraser replied for Forres.
Rothes – who play host to Academy this weekend – moved up to fourth after their 4-0 win against Keith at Mackessack Park. Ali Sutherland got a hat-trick, including a penalty, with Steven Anderson also on target.
Goals from Steven Ross and Ross Logan gave Clachnacuddin their first league win of the season as they beat Lossiemouth 2-0 at Grant Street Park.
There was an eight-goal thriller at Claggan Park where Turriff United emerged with a 5-3 victory over Fort William.
Brora Rangers lifted the North of Scotland Cup after a 3-2 win against an Inverness Caledonian Thistle XI in Sunday's final at Mosset Park.