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Exams threat to Academy U17 title bid

By Matt Leslie

Scott Macdonald of Wick Academy U17s is upended by Clach's Aidan Mackinnon during a 2-2 draw at Harmsworth Park in September. Picture: Mel Roger
Scott Macdonald of Wick Academy U17s is upended by Clach's Aidan Mackinnon during a 2-2 draw at Harmsworth Park in September. Picture: Mel Roger

Wick Academy under-17s' quest for a third successive league title could come into conflict with school exams.

James Robertson, who this season is a coach with the squad after stepping back from his previous head coach role, said the recent run of postponed games could have a knock-on effect for the players come May.

The season for SHFL Under-17 North is scheduled to end officially at the beginning of March. However, the current head coaches – Liam Anderson and Willie Robertson – will be getting their diaries out and checking with their squad regarding their availability for selection.

The young Scorries have had no fewer than eight matches postponed this season, which means – barring any other weather-related mishaps – a possible May finish to the season.

However, May brings other commitments to fulfil and one in particular would almost certainly ensure the Wick youngsters may have to sacrifice the league title.

Robertson said: "The postponements have not helped, as you would like to be playing the same amount of games as everyone else in the league.

"Clach are top of the table right now. We have three games in hand on them and we can join Clach at the top if we win them.

"However, we would have much rather played the same amount of games as them – and indeed all the other teams – as it looks like the season is going to be extended well beyond the point where it was supposed to end.

"This could well mean the season finishes in May when our players will have other commitments.

"One is the summer [Caithness AFA] season starting, and the boys having obligations to their clubs for that. The other will be school exams and having to devote their time to them."

The young Scorries have made a superb start to their campaign and, if they win the games in hand that they have on Clach, look set to be in contention for a third title in a row.

They have been scoring goals for fun – last weekend's 10-1 win at Ullapool being a case in point – and are averaging 7.6 goals per game.

Robertson added: "I've not been involved as much with them this year but Liam and Willie have done a fantastic job with the squad.

"It has not been a surprise, as we've a good youth set-up with all the age groups doing well – plus we've managed to keep a lot of players from last season.

"When you look at Clach and the catchment area [Inverness] that they have, all credit must go to everyone involved for how well our age-group teams are doing.

"Every player has played their part but particular mention must go to the likes of Sam Barclay, who has hit 30 goals this season, as well as midfielders such as Scott Macdonald, Conor Farquhar and Joe Steven – the latter we've acquired from Ross County.

"But it's not just about scoring goals. Our defence has played their part by keeping teams out."

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