Defeat is disappointing but hardly surprising for under-strength Wick
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Wick Academy’s last game of 2019 ended in a defeat that was disappointing but, in the circumstances, hardly surprising. With half his squad injured for the trip to Victoria Park there was no pre-match selection dilemma for manager Tom McKenna who simply listed his 11 available players.
For the record, Academy lined up with Sean McCarthy, Colin MacRae, Alan Farquhar, Danny Mackay, Gary Manson, Ryan Campbell, Alan Hughes, Richard Macadie, Grant Aitkenhead, Jonah Martens and Davie Allan. Sam Barclay, Scott Mowat and Scott MacDonald from the youth team joined sub goalkeeper Gordon Clark on the bench.
During a frustrating first half the Scorries did not enjoy the “rub of the green”. After five minutes a Wick clearance hit referee Scott Leslie who restarted the game with an uncontested drop ball to Buckie. They worked it out to their left to Andy MacAskill whose cross was volleyed into the net by Joe McCabe.
McCarthy did well to save a Scott Adams free kick and set up a counter-attack, Martens crossing from the left to Hughes who headed it just wide of the back post.
Buckie went two goals up on 24 minutes with a harsh penalty award after Sam Urquhart collided with MacRae on the 18-yard line. Urquhart himself fired in the spot-kick.
The Jags dominated for a spell. Kevin Fraser was denied at point-blank range by McCarthy and MacAskill missed a chance, slicing his shot wide.
After another decision went against his team, manager McKenna was yellow-carded for dissent.
Academy’s best effort came just before the break, Macadie driving a 25-yard free kick against the wall and forcing a diving save from Lee Herbert with his rebound effort.
Wick competed well in the second half but Martens fired over the bar on 55 minutes at which point Manson went off and Barclay came on.
On 65 minutes MacAskill set up Jack Murray for the Jags’ third goal. Five minutes later Murray shoved Farquhar over in the box but Herbert dived to his right to push away Macadie’s spot-kick.
In the 83rd minute Hughes was just off target with a free kick for handball and then Allan finished a powerful run with a pass to Barclay, whose effort was smothered by Herbert.
Goal number four came after 88 minutes when sub Calum Murray ran through a tiring Wick defence and gave Fraser an easy chance.
Mowat and MacDonald came on for a brief taste of first-team football.
Academy had a gruelling year on the road in 2019, with three trips each to Inverurie and Fort William and two to Cove and Huntly among their 25 away league, cup and pre-season matches. The new year starts with Fort William as first-foots at Harmsworth Park on Saturday.
Brora Rangers and Inverurie Locos continued to set the pace in the Highland League with big home wins on Saturday, 5-0 and 7-1 against Nairn County and Lossiemouth respectively.
Andrew Macrae netted a double for Brora, while prolific marksman Neil Gauld – dubbed "the Garioch Gerd Muller" in the local press – hit a hat-trick for Locos.
Rothes moved up to third after their 2-0 home win against Huntly. Fraserburgh are fourth after their game at Fort William was called off, while Buckie are still maybe just in contention in fifth, 12 points behind Brora but with two games in hand.
A couple of the lower-placed teams gave spirited performances. Strathspey Thistle came back from a goal down at the break to beat Forres 2-1 at Seafield Park, with Jamie Fraser scoring twice. And there was a thriller at The Haughs as Turriff United and Keith drew 3-3.
Clachnacuddin v Formartine was postponed after an electrical fire caused serious damage at the Inverness club’s Grant Street ground.