Macgregor double as Wick Academy extend unbeaten league run with victory over Buckie
A STRONG wind and a bobbly pitch ensured it was never going to be a classic, but Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Buckie Thistle was nevertheless a highly satisfactory day’s work for Wick Academy as they extended their unbeaten sequence in the Highland League to eight games.
Three days after seeing off Nairn County by the same scoreline, the Scorries kept up their impressive run and boosted their chances of finishing seventh in the table thanks to a well-taken double from in-form striker Marc Macgregor.
Playing down the Harmsworth slope in the first half into a stiff south-westerly breeze, Academy looked lively and eager but it was proving difficult to string any passing moves together. On those occasions when they did manage to carve out an opening in the early stages they came up against a well-marshalled offside trap, with Davie Allan, Richard Macadie and Jack Henry all being caught.
With 20 minutes gone, Wick finally managed a shot on target. Henry nodded the ball on to Macgregor but the striker’s tame effort was easily gathered by Buckie’s young keeper Lee Herbert – fresh from playing for Scotland under-18s against England in a Centenary Shield match at Inverurie the previous night.
Then a sweeping move ended with Macgregor pulling his shot wide of goal with a Buckie defender getting the last touch.
At the other end, Sam Robertson raced through and drilled a shot just beyond the far post, taking a deflection on the way.
The Jags attacked again and a looping header by Steven Ross was caught by Sean McCarthy.
Gary Manson delivered a ball over the top to Henry, whose angled drive produced a diving save from Herbert.
The first period looked destined to end in a stalemate, but Macgregor had other ideas. Just as he had done against Nairn, he broke the deadlock with half-time looming.
In the 42nd minute, with the Scorries probing for an opening around the edge of the box, Macgregor seized possession and neatly evaded the challenge of Shaun Wood before unleashing a powerful drive high past the keeper.
It was a rare moment of quality in a game that had generally been disjointed because of the difficult conditions.
There was still time before the break for the visitors to threaten again. Wood picked out Ross sneaking in at the back post but McCarthy was alert to the danger and managed to smother the Buckie forward’s effort.
Academy doubled their lead on 62 minutes with a strike that was all about opportunism and improvisation.
Sam Mackay knocked the ball forward and it fell nicely into Macgregor’s path outside the penalty area on the right. The striker was off balance and falling back, with a defender in close attendance, yet he managed to send a wind-assisted lob over Herbert and into the net.
There was a more purposeful look about Academy now and Mackay set up an opening for Macadie, who saw his first attempt blocked before firing a follow-up shot just wide.
When a Buckie free kick came to nothing, Academy raced upfield on the counter-attack and Henry played Macadie through for a drive that was parried by Herbert.
Buckie sub Scott Adams clipped a shot over the bar from a tight angle.
McCarthy ventured out of his box as Buckie pressed forward again and the Wick keeper earned a cheer for a skilful flick of the boot to snuff out the danger.
The wind seemed to have eased off to some extent and Academy were controlling the game, although the Jags continued to offer an occasional threat. Sam Urquhart, who had come on for Robertson, blasted a shot over the bar from a tight angle on the left.
Wick Academy: McCarthy, M Steven, Hardwick, Manson, Farquhar, Henry, Macgregor, R Macadie, D Allan, R Allan, S Mackay. Subs not used: Gunn, Aitkenhead, Montgomery, M Macadie, Hughes, Clark.
Buckie Thistle: Herbert, Skinner, Morrison, Munro, Wood (Carroll 52), Cheyne (Adams 52), Fraser, Murray, Robertson (Urquhart 64), Ross, McCabe. Subs not used: Milne, MacKinnon, Strong.
Referee: Billy Baxter.