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Ex-Wick boss Connelly wants to get Forres challenging for honours again

By Jonathan Clark

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Gordon Connelly (right) and Steven MacDonald, pictured during their spell at Rothes, will make up two-thirds of Forres Mechanics’ new management team. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Gordon Connelly (right) and Steven MacDonald, pictured during their spell at Rothes, will make up two-thirds of Forres Mechanics’ new management team. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The man who led Wick Academy to their North of Scotland Cup triumph six years ago says he is “absolutely delighted” to be back in the Highland League.

Gordon Connelly was appointed this week as manager of Forres Mechanics, almost 20 years after a previous spell at Mosset Park.

Connelly (54) was confirmed as the Can-Cans’ new manager following the departure of long-serving boss Charlie Rowley. He is joined by newly appointed assistant managers Steven MacDonald and Brian Macleod.

“I’m absolutely delighted to join Forres. It was a no-brainer after I was approached," Connelly said.

“I’ve got to thank the club for the opportunity first and foremost. I’ve always had a burning desire to come back to Forres because it’s such a good set-up. Some committee members are still here from my previous spell with the club so it’s not like I’m coming in blind.

“I’ve got to thank the club for allowing me to bring in two assistants of this calibre, too. I’ve known Steven for a long time – he was a player at Forres and then I worked with him at Rothes. Brian was manager at Clach and is held in high regard coaching-wise, so it was good to attract him.”

Connelly’s last job in the Highland League was at Rothes, where he was a coach under the management of MacDonald. He managed Wick Academy for three seasons – the high point coming in November 2015 when Academy defeated Nairn County 6-2 in the North of Scotland Cup final – before stepping down in August 2017.

Connelly will be back at Harmsworth Park when Forres visit Wick Academy next Saturday.

He was Forres manager at the start of the century, bringing previous boss Rowley to Mosset Park in 2002.

“We’re not going to make huge clearances straight away. The immediate thing is to introduce what we want to do and get the players to buy into it.

“We don’t have any targets as such but there’s a good squad there who have probably underachieved this season and they know that," Connelly said. “We want to get them enjoying football again, to relax and show their capabilities.

“The club has had a tough time over the last few years. Hopefully we can get the players challenging for things again, which they haven’t been doing for the last 10 years, which is surprising given the squads the club have had.

“The players need to realise it’s not good enough for a club the size of Forres.”

There was a nightmare start to Connelly's new reign at Mosset Park as the Can-Cans were thrashed 7-0 at home by Rothes on Wednesday night. The goals came from Jack Brown (2), Gary Kerr, Lewis Hyde, Aidan Wilson, Michael Finnis and Alan Pollock.

The Speysiders are now just three points behind leaders Fraserburgh – as are Brechin City, who eased to a 5-0 win at Turriff. City were four up at half-time with goals from Max Kucheriavyi, Iain Davidson, Marc Scott and Julian Wade, before David Cox completed the scoring in stoppage time.

In the other midweek game, Jordan MacRae’s second-half double gave Brora Rangers a 2-0 win at Lossiemouth.

Highland League fixtures for Saturday: Brechin City v Lossiemouth; Buckie Thistle v Clachnacuddin; Deveronvale v Fort William; Forres Mechanics v Fraserburgh; Huntly v Wick Academy; Inverurie Locos v Strathspey Thistle; Keith v Brora Rangers; Rothes v Formartine United; Turriff United v Nairn County.

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