We were brave on the ball in cup defeat, says Manson as Wick look ahead to Keith trip
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Wick Academy manager Gary Manson praised his players for being brave on the ball in "horrendous" conditions as their Scottish Cup campaign was brought to a halt by a 2-0 Boxing Day defeat at Cowdenbeath.
The under-strength Scorries worked tirelessly and played some neat passing football against their League Two opponents, especially in the first period, only to lose out to Craig Barr's long-distance strike and a close-range effort from Kris Renton either side of half-time.
The first-round tie at Central Park was marred by a strong wind and driving rain.
“It was horrendous – it was non-stop rain the whole day," Manson said. "The wind was pretty much going straight down the pitch, so it wasn't easy. But it was the same for both teams, and both teams got on with it quite well.
“The pitch stood up to the rain really well so it was a decent surface to play football on. It was a decent game, all things considered.
"In the first half they had the wind but I thought we played the better football. We got on the ball, we were brave taking the ball under pressure and trying to play, and at times it was really good to watch.
"But with the sheer force of the wind it was quite difficult to get high up the park and create good goalscoring opportunities.
"They were limited to crosses into the box and stuff like that – they didn't have clear-cut chances either really, and it was just a freak goal that they managed to get just before half-time which kind of put our backs against the wall a little bit.
“Then in the second half they got an early goal and it was a change of game plan after that.
"Both teams seemed to play better against the wind because you could play passes without the ball running away from people. Without creating too many clear chances, I thought we probably played the better football in the first half and they played the better football in the second half against the wind.
"While the wind was an advantage for clearing your lines and getting up the park, it wasn't an advantage in terms of playing football.
"It was just a tough day all round in terms of conditions."
With the experienced trio of Alan Farquhar, Danny Mackay and Andrew Hardwick missing, Wick had Ryan Campbell and Jack Henry in central defensive roles in front of keeper Graeme Williamson and all put in assured performances.
Manson – who is still registered as a player – admitted he did consider including himself in the team.
“It did cross my mind but I was more than comfortable with the starting eleven," he said. "Jack and Ryan are two midfield players who are very comfortable on the ball.
"We were brave on the ball and we played out from the back in the first half. I told the players at the start, against the wind you can't just lump it forward because it'll come straight back at us.
"I was pleased with how they tried to play."
Cowdenbeath opened the scoring after 38 minutes when Barr let fly from about 40 yards and Williamson was helpless as the wind-assisted strike flew into the net. The Blue Brazil doubled their lead five minutes into the second half when Fraser Mullen swung in a low cross from wide on the right and Renton turned it in.
Academy's best effort came after 74 minutes when Davie Allan made progress up the right and his ferocious shot was turned away for a corner by young keeper Nicky Hogarth, on loan from Rangers.
Meanwhile, Manson says his squad will be fit and ready for the trip to Keith this weekend as the Scorries return to Highland League action.
After their Boxing Day trip to Fife for the Scottish Cup tie against Cowdenbeath, Academy will be back on the road following a low-key New Year as they travel to Kynoch Park on Saturday.
The Maroons, who recently installed Andy Roddie and Tommy Wilson as their management team, were 4-2 winners over Hill of Beath Hawthorn in the Scottish Cup at the weekend and have had one victory and one defeat in their two league games so far.
Manson said: "Keith have a new management team in as well and I'm expecting a tough game. It always is when you go down to Keith.
"Again it's not ideal having to travel so close to New Year's Day, but it is what it is.
"It won't be the same Hogmanay this year anyway – there will be no parties or street events to attend, so it'll be a quiet affair for the players. They should be fresh and ready to go for January 2.
"It is unfortunate that we have to travel but we just need to get on with it."
Academy's 3-1 extra-time victory over Musselburgh Athletic in the second preliminary round of the Scottish Cup was Manson's first competitive win since being appointed as manager. Academy are still seeking their first league points after losing to Buckie Thistle and Brora in their opening two fixtures.
Buckie Thistle produced one of their best results in the Scottish Cup with a 3-0 win away to League Two side Albion Rovers on Saturday. They are joined in the second round by Formartine United, Fraserburgh and Nairn County as well as Keith.
Andy MacAskill scored direct from a corner to put Buckie ahead midway through the first half and a Scott Adams goal made it 2-0 before half-time. MacAskill grabbed his second on 71 minutes to seal a memorable victory.
Andy wasn't the only MacAskill brother to score direct from a corner as his brother Craig did the same in Keith's extra-time win over Hill of Beath Hawthorn.
Cammy Keith put the Maroons ahead but the visitors were 2-1 up at the break. Scott Gray struck to force extra time and a wind-assisted MacAskill flag-kick edged the Maroons ahead before Michael Selfridge sealed it.
Nairn County beat Broxburn Athletic on penalties after a goalless draw.
Cameron Lisle's last-minute goal gave Formartine United a 2-1 victory at Haddington Athletic.
In the all-Highland League clash at Mackessack Park, Fraserburgh came from behind to win 3-1 against Rothes.
Craig Cormack put the Speysiders in front, but goals by Gary Harris and Scott Barbour (2) secured the Broch's place in round two.
Brora Rangers' game at Camelon was abandoned due to heavy rain.