Scorries keep their cool as Locos see red
Wick Academy manager Tom McKenna praised his side for keeping their cool as Inverurie went off the rails in Saturday's bad-tempered clash at Harlaw Park.
Gary Manson's penalty in 59 minutes was enough for the Scorries to secure a 1-0 win and end their recent losing streak as they moved up one place in the Highland League table to 10th.
But the scoreline does not tell the whole story. Seven players were booked by referee Liam Duncan, while three from Inverurie saw red – one of them twice and another after the match had finished.
Mark Souter was dismissed for his foul on Jack Halliday that led to Manson's penalty, while Jamie Michie received one red for a foul on Sam Mackay with another coming his way for dissent.
Locos striker Neil Gauld made sure he didn't miss out when he was red-carded following an incident after the final whistle.
Academy picked up three bookings but McKenna was thankful his squad didn't cross the line on what proved to be a feisty afternoon.
"I thought the lads were exceptional," he said. "There could have been a lot of conflict out there but the lads kept their discipline and conducted themselves professionally.
"I heard our win has been described as 'scrappy'. I don't think it was scrappy at all – I thought the lads played very well.
"They worked hard and controlled the game well when we had the ball. The game could have gone either way but we deserved this victory."
Of the drama that unfolded on the pitch itself, McKenna had no issue with the calls made by referee Duncan.
He added: "First of all it was a definite penalty. Jack [Halliday] was taken out.
"With the red card that involved Sam [Mackay], that was fully merited. He went right through him. Sam could have broken his ankle."
McKenna's counterpart in the Inverurie dugout had a different point of view.
Manager Andy Low said: "Regarding the Souter sending-off, I felt a yellow should have been enough if they got a penalty.
"There is only so much I can say on the Michie punishment. It's a stonewall penalty for a two-footed studs-up challenge [from Mackay] and the reaction from my player is out of frustration and anger.
"I cannot comment on the second red he's collected but I'll be disappointed if he has said something out of lack of discipline."
Low felt that over the course of the game Academy deserved to win.
It was the second time this season an Inverurie v Wick match at Harlaw Park had been shrouded in controversy. When the teams met in September in a Scottish Cup first-round tie, a head-butt by Eric Watson on Davie Allan earned a two-match ban for the Inverurie defender.
Speaking at the time, McKenna said he felt the SFA had been too lenient and the governing body had missed an opportunity to crack down on indiscipline on the pitch. Locos won that game 3-2 after Academy had been two goals up.
Saturday's result brought an end to a disappointing run for the Scorries during which they lost to Huntly, Rothes, Nairn County and Brora Rangers.
Strathspey Thistle are next up for Academy when they visit Harmsworth Park on Wednesday night and McKenna hopes to build upon the victory over Locos.
The Strathy Jags sit in 12th place after three wins and a draw from their opening 12 league fixtures.
They will have been buoyed by their 4-1 victory over Clachnacuddin on Saturday in a Highland League Cup preliminary round tie.
McKenna said: "Strathspey will have their tails up following their good win against Clach.
"However, we are coming off a very good win at Inverurie. Hopefully we can show some consistency and put on a similar display to get a result to push us higher up the table."