Jags’ promotion bid pays off
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WICK Thistle are looking forward to sampling life in the top flight for the first time in four seasons.
The Jags cracked open the champagne on Friday after clinching the Caithness County League division-two championship with a stress-free victory over town rivals Rovers.
Three-nil ahead at the interval, Arthur Bruce’s men never looked in danger against a pith-less Rovers side. Marc Gunn bagged a hat-trick with the other goals falling to Owen Harrold and Darren Shepherd.
The bubbly fell a bit flat when Thistle slumped to their first defeat of the league campaign in their final game versus Top Joe’s at Ormlie.
The home men forged in front with a free-kick special from Steven Lowe and the same player doubled his side’s advantage after converting Kevin Treasurer’s assist.
Thistle got one back but Lowe made it 3-1 with his hat-trick goal from the spot after he had been hauled down in the box.
Mark Hutcheon made sure of victory after he latched on to Derek Campbell’s through-ball to score. Thurso Pentland finished in the play-off spot after racking up runaway wins in their last two fixtures.
Their 7-0 win over TJ’s featured a memorable strike from Michael Smith who flipped the ball over a defender with his left before netting with an unerring right-footed volley.
Darren Mackay, Sean Moodie and visiting former club favourite Phil Makhouli each weighed in with doubles.
Pentland’s 4-0 win in Wick versus Rovers left them one point shy of the Jags, who deservedly took the title after winning both tussles with their Thurso rivals.
Mackay opened the scoring against Rovers with a free-kick, with the others coming from Steven John, Smith and youngster Ryan Cowie.
Lybster overcame a half-time deficit at home to Keiss to end up 4-2 victors. Graham Sutherland had Phoenix in front but strikes from Richard Donn and Eddie MacGregor put the visitors ahead at the turnaround.
Stonking long-range efforts from Nathan Lightley, Ross MacAdie and Calum Grant turned the tide for Lybster. They signed off with a 2-2 draw with Francis Street Club.
MacAdie had an up-and-down night, levelling with a first-half penalty before hitting a post with a second spot-kick and then being shown the red card with 15 minutes left.
Sutherland restored parity after the Wickers had drawn in front soon after the interval.
Keiss were not weakened by the inclusion of vets Alan Johnston and Gordon Robertson as they defeated Ormlie Hotspurs 4-1.
Johnston set the ball rolling for the villagers after he claimed the opener from MacGregor’s lay-back.
James Halliday equalised from the penalty spot but goals either side of half-time from Colin MacKenzie and Andrew Harris put Keiss in the driving seat.
Calum Campbell put the icing on the cake after he finished off a solo run.
Spurs posted their third league win in their debut season in their final outing against FSC.
Halliday’s penalty conversion – his second of the evening – in between Graham Scollay’s strike made it 3-2 for the Thurso outfit.
The second division Steven Cup opened on Wednesday with first-round victories for Thurso Pentland and Wick Thistle.
Pentland striker Michael Smith scored a hat-trick as his side beat Ormlie Hotspurs 6-1 while the Jags scored three without reply versus Lybster at Upper Bignold.