MacNab hits winner as Wick Academy keep up run of away victories
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Manager Gary Manson admitted it was "backs against the wall" late on as Wick Academy held out for a 3-2 victory in their New Year clash with Turriff United at The Haughs.
Wick's Jack Halliday scored twice and had a twice-taken penalty saved in an eventful first half. Callan Gray had put Turriff in front and trialist Jack McKenzie got their second after half-time, but Gordon MacNab grabbed the decisive goal as Academy strengthened their grip on eighth place in the Highland League table.
Monday's result means the Scorries have taken 18 points from a possible 21 in their last seven fixtures.
It was their third successive away victory. In all three of those games they had to come from behind to win – 4-3 at Huntly, then by the odd goal in five against both Clachnacuddin and Turriff.
Although Dean Donaldson's young side remain second bottom, Manson believes they are in a false position.
“It was quite a topsy-turvy game," the Wick boss said. "We didn't come out of the traps well at all – it took us 15 minutes to get going.
"They scored but then we completely dominated the first half. We created numerous chances, got two goals and missed the penalty.
“We were slow to get going. The first 15 minutes was poor, then the last half-hour [of the first half] was really good.
“In the second half again we started poorly, lost a goal, and then came back into it. We created a couple of good chances and got a goal and then the last 10 minutes it was just backs against the wall.
“You could see the boys were getting tired. It was a big, heavy pitch and it was a long journey on January 3. We just defended our box and saw the game out to win 3-2.
“It was thoroughly pleasing to get a win on the road because Turriff are a really good team. I said it to the boys before the game – their league position is probably a false position, on the balance of how they play and the young, talented players that they have, so it was really pleasing to get the three points.
“We're in good form so we just need to keep it going now.”
Turriff opened the scoring on 16 minutes when the ball was played through to Callan Gray and he slotted it past Wick goalkeeper James More.
It was all square two minutes later when Halliday equalised.
The momentum was starting to swing in the visitors' favour and Halliday added his second on 24 minutes when he got on the end of a ball in from the wing and netted from close range.
Academy were then awarded a penalty for a foul on Davie Allan and initially it was netted by Halliday. However, referee Joel Kennedy ordered it to be retaken because of encroachment and the midfielder's second attempt was saved.
Turriff levelled on 56 minutes when trialist Jack McKenzie fired in a long ball which just beat More and crossed the line.
However, on 64 minutes Academy regained the lead through MacNab from a tight angle.
Turriff manager Dean Donaldson blamed poor defending for all three of the goals his team conceded.
"We showed naivety and we were having to play boys that were out of position," Donaldson said. "It has just been the story of our season so far but there are good signs we are improving.
"We scored a couple of goals but we should have scored more as we had a lot of good chances. At least we are creating, but conceding goals is a problem which we need to sort out pretty quickly.
"We started the game on the front foot but again we never took our chances and then one break up the park and they've scored. Teams get a lift from that.
"It was poor defending for all three of the goals, which is tough to take and disappointing.
"This season is about developing the young players but we need to focus now on getting points on the board. We will go into training and work on the defensive side of the game."
The Scorries were again very much under-strength but on the hour mark there was the welcome sight of Richard Macadie coming off the bench for his first appearance of the season. The attacking midfielder, who is the club's record goalscorer, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a summer friendly in Orkney.