We should have had six or seven, says Manson as Wick Academy hold on against Jags
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Wick Academy manager Gary Manson praised his players for holding on to collect all three points against Strathspey Thistle – although he felt the Scorries should have had six or seven goals to show for their efforts.
Three up at half-time and seemingly cruising, Academy had to settle for a 3-2 victory over the Highland League's bottom team at a very breezy Harmsworth Park on Saturday.
Gordon MacNab, Kyle Henderson and Jack Halliday got the Wick goals, with Jack Davison scoring twice for the Strathy Jags as they rallied after the break.
"In the first half we should have been 5-0 up at least," Manson said. "We had two absolute sitters and a couple of half-chances, so it should have been five at half-time and out of sight.
"The message at half-time was not to give them any kind of incentive, any sniffs on goal – see out the first 10, 15 or 20 minutes and then go and score a couple yourselves.
"It didn't pan out like that. But we'll take three points – where we are at the moment, you can't take any game for granted even though we were 3-0 up at half-time."
Manson described the wind as "a massive factor".
He said: "We're not keeping many clean sheets at the moment and they were always going to create a couple of chances with that wind. They managed to take a couple.
"We could easily have folded and drawn or lost the game, so credit to them – they held firm at the end and we should have killed the game off. We had two glorious chances [in the second half].
"On another day we could have walked off that pitch with six or seven goals, but we'll take the three points and we'll move on."
Academy opened the scoring after four minutes. Ross Gunn's corner on the left found MacNab on the edge of the box and the striker forced his way past a clutch of defenders before firing the ball high into the far corner.
The Scorries doubled their lead on 12 minutes when Kyle Henderson, on the right, found the net with a low shot from 25 yards.
Owen Harrold came close with a near-post header, then MacNab robbed a defender in the box only to see his shot roll tantalisingly wide.
Halliday got the third after 32 minutes after taking a short corner on the left. The midfielder exchanged passes with Ryan Campbell and his whipped delivery evaded everyone before landing in the net at the far post.
Out of nowhere, the Jags handed themselves a lifeline seven minutes into the second half when Davison unleashed a shot from outside the box on the left and found a gap at the near post.
On 73 minutes Davison struck again, from roughly the same position, this time beating Williamson at the opposite corner as the keeper threw himself to his left.
Academy had chances to put the outcome beyond doubt. Henderson was one-on-one with keeper Steve Martin but was unable to make the most of the opportunity, then substitute Gary Pullen looked certain to score when he clipped the ball over the advancing keeper only for it to bounce wide.
Strathspey Thistle manager Rob MacCormack said: "Obviously the wind spoiled the game.
"It was a game of two halves – Wick scored three, we scored two, and we didn't do enough to get a third goal and push on.
"We can't be giving teams three-goal head starts, so that was a disappointment. In the second half we gave it our all and it just wasn't to be."
The result lifted Academy one place to 14th in the table, level on points with 13th-placed Forres Mechanics. Academy travel to Forres this weekend, but before that the Can-Cans will be in action against Clachnacuddin in Inverness on Wednesday night.
Former Wick Academy loan signing Harry Hennem was among the scorers as Nairn County continued their impressive Highland League campaign with a 3-0 victory over Buckie Thistle at Station Park.
Andrew MacLeod put the Wee County ahead going into the interval and Ben Barron doubled their lead on the hour mark. Hennem completed the scoring after an attempted clearance by the Buckie keeper was deflected into his path.
League leaders Brechin City won 2-0 against Lossiemouth at Glebe Park thanks to second-half goals from Jamie Richardson and Danny Handling.
Brora Rangers were 3-0 winners away to Deveronvale with Tony Dingwall, Kyle Macleod and Jordan MacRae on the scoresheet.
Banks O’Dee, four points behind Brechin having played one game more, had a 2-0 home victory over Keith.
Fraserburgh and Formartine United recorded 2-1 wins against Forres Mechanics and Turriff United respectively.
Huntly had a 4-2 victory over Clachnacuddin at Grant Street Park, while Inverurie Locos were 4-1 winners at Rothes.
Highland League results: Banks O' Dee 2, Keith 0; Brechin City 2, Lossiemouth 0; Clachnacuddin 2, Huntly 4; Deveronvale 0, Brora Rangers 3; Fraserburgh 2, Forres Mechanics 1; Nairn County 3, Buckie Thistle 0; Rothes 1, Inverurie Locos 4; Turriff United 1, Formartine United 2; Wick Academy 3, Strathspey Thistle 2.
Fixtures – Wednesday, February 7 – Clachnacuddin v Forres Mechanics; Strathspey Thistle v Brora Rangers.
Saturday, February 10: Banks O' Dee v Deveronvale; Brora Rangers v Clachnacuddin; Buckie Thistle v Rothes; Formartine United v Fraserburgh; Forres Mechanics v Wick Academy (3pm); Inverurie Locos v Brechin City; Keith v Nairn County; Lossiemouth v Strathspey Thistle; Turriff United v Huntly.
Wednesday, February 14: Banks O' Dee v Rothes; Brora Rangers v Buckie Thistle; Keith v Turriff United; Lossiemouth v Inverurie Locos; Nairn County v Huntly; Strathspey Thistle v Wick Academy (8pm).