Manson sees sharpness returning as Academy prove too strong for Thurso
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Manager Gary Manson was happy to see signs of Wick Academy's match sharpness returning as the Scorries stepped up their preparations for the new Highland League season with a 3-0 victory over Thurso on Tuesday night.
It was Academy's second closed-doors friendly against local North Caledonian opposition in the space of a week, following on from the 4-2 win at Halkirk on Thursday, and again Manson chose to field a different eleven in each half.
Thurso manager Stevie Reid was unhappy with an offside decision when Charlie Fraser thought he had scored after finishing off a well-worked move. However, Wick ran out comfortable winners at Harmsworth Park after a first-half penalty by Gordon MacNab and two goals in quick succession by Craig Gunn in the second period.
"I had the two elevens against Halkirk so I thought I would do the same again to have an even number of minutes throughout the squad and give me a good look at every player, instead of just giving somebody five or 10 minutes at the end," Manson said.
"It gives everybody a chance to impress for at least 45 minutes. It worked well.
"I don't think Stevie was too pleased to see a brand new eleven coming on for the second half, full of running and full of energy when his team were starting to tire a bit. They had to face playing uphill in the second half against a fresh eleven from us, and we had some good runners in that second eleven.
"It was noticeable that our match sharpness was starting to come back. There was a bit more purpose in our passing. It was much more like an actual match.
"In the final third you could tell the boys were still a little bit rusty – the final pass, the final cross, the shot, it's still needing worked on. But that'll come – this was only their second game.
"Certainly the build-up play and the defensive third were quite impressive. If the final third was there, it could have been a lot more comfortable than 3-0.
"Overall it was really pleasing. We hit a post, and Asa Sinclair in goal for Thurso had a number of good saves which kept the score down.
"If we'd had a bit more match sharpness and were more clinical there could have been a few more goals.”
Reid felt it had been a good exercise for the Vikings.
“We've been training for a wee while now so it was good to get a break from that and get a game," he said. "You can train as much as you want but games are what matter.
"We had a few call-offs so we were a bit low on numbers, but a lot of the guys got 90 minutes under their belts, which they might not have thanked me for next morning – they might have been a bit sore.
"We had a couple of boys on holiday, and injuries, but we didn't want to turn it down. It was certainly worthwhile and it was a good game, although after an hour or so tiredness kicked in."