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Praise for Academy's surprise goal hero

By Matt Leslie

Andrew Hardwick, Wick Academy v Fort William, Wick Academy, Wick Academy FC, Highland League
Andrew Hardwick, Wick Academy v Fort William, Wick Academy, Wick Academy FC, Highland League

"KEEP it up" is Academy boss Tom McKenna's message to his surprise goalscoring hero Andrew Hardwick.

The centre-half weighed in with a hat-trick as Academy dished out six of the best to rock-bottom Fort William.

Gary Manson, Michael Steven and Davie Allan also chipped in for Wick who now go into Saturday's crunch fixture against leaders Cove Rangers having scored 14 and conceded two in their last three games.

Hardwick found the net against Turriff and Inverurie Loco before his treble against Fort at the weekend.

But his main defensive duties have impressed his gaffer over the past few weeks.

McKenna is delighted with the way Hardwick has slotted seamlessly into the Scorries' back four. He has been a key figure in Academy's run of three victories in a row, following a winless streak in their previous four outings.

"Andy has done well so far," McKenna said. "He's come into the centre of defence and begun a good partnership with Grant Steven.

"They've combined well together and that helps the team to have a wee bit of continuity.

"Plus he's also been popping up with a few goals as well. All credit to him – especially in getting three against Fort William.

"I had a wee bit of concern when I saw him striding up to take the penalty to give him the opportunity for the hat-trick.

"You see it on the TV when the regular penalty taker takes a back seat with team-mate on a hat-trick taking the kick in order to get it, only to make a complete mess of it.

"I had that in the back of my mind but thankfully Andy put it away.

"The game itself saw us dominate quite comfortably. Of course given the league positions of the two sides, this was a match we were expected to win and we were on top of proceedings without really capitalising on the possession we had.

"With the first half-hour, you did start to think that it was going to be one of those days with their keeper pulling off some phenomenal saves.

"We were not under pressure at the back and we had wave upon wave of attacks but that final ball was just not working for us.

"I suppose it was inevitable that it would be a penalty to break the deadlock. Once we get one we think we're going to score more goals and that was the case.

"Being greedy, you want to score even more but that wasn't to be the case. At the end of the day it's three points, six goals scored and a case of 'job done'."

Fort William boss Kris Anderson was proud of the way his young side competed, despite the scoreline.

He said: "I thought the boys did themselves proud and that we were a little bit unlucky to go in at half-time 2-0 down.

"The average age of the squad was 20 years old and we only had one substitute that we could use."

* Read the match report in this week's Caithness Courier.

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