We're not scoring enough goals, says Manson as Wick lose at Fraserburgh
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Manager Gary Manson accepts it is "glaringly obvious" that Wick Academy need to find the net more often if they are to start climbing up the Highland League table.
Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Fraserburgh at Bellslea Park means the Scorries have scored just once in their last five matches and they remain 15th in the 18-team division.
Fourth-placed Broch opened the scoring inside five minutes, a tap-in for Logan Watt after a cross from Scott Barbour.
Substitute Willie West doubled their lead with a header on 63 minutes, and Watt grabbed his second after 72 minutes when he was first to react after a header was blocked by Wick keeper James More.
Academy twice struck the woodwork. Gordon MacNab hit the bar, having come off the bench following his return to fitness, and Ross Gunn was denied by a post.
Manson said: "We played better than we did against Turriff last time out, so it was an improvement on that. I would say the first half was probably fifty-fifty.
"They scored really early on. Sometimes you go down to Fraserburgh and concede an early goal and it might be a long day, but it was the opposite – the boys rallied after the early goal and came back into it and actually played some really good stuff in the first half.
"We were maybe unlucky to go in 1-0 down. Their goalkeeper [Joe Barbour] was man of the match, which tells you something to a certain degree.
"We did create chances, we did take on shots, but we were just not clinical enough in the final third. We hit the crossbar, we hit a post, and sometimes you just have to say it's not your day in front of goal.
"It's happening a lot to us just now – we're not scoring enough goals. On Saturday we got plenty of shots off and there was plenty of action in and around their box, but like I say – when you hit the crossbar, you hit the post, and their goalkeeper makes some good saves, you kind of know it's not going to be your day."
On the run of one goal scored from five outings since mid-December, Manson said: "In those five games we've kept two clean sheets as well – so goals are drying up at both ends, really.
"It's not through a want of attacking players on the park or a lack of willingness to get forward and try to score goals.
"It's just sometimes the ball is not dropping to us or we're hitting the post or hitting the crossbar and we're not getting the rub of the green.
"But it's glaringly obvious that we need to start scoring more goals if we want to win more games. We've got Strathspey Thistle at home on Saturday, so we'll be looking to create enough chances to take at least a couple of chances to win the game."
Fraserburgh ended up with nine players.
Josh Bolton got his marching orders 10 minutes into the second half after clashing with Gary Pullen. West was sent off for a second yellow late in the game when he was adjudged to be time-wasting – an incident that resulted in their manager Mark Cowie being red-carded too.
Manson had some sympathy for Fraserburgh over the West dismissal, having been ordered off by the same referee, Scott Donohoe, in Academy's goalless draw with Rothes earlier this month.
"The Willie West one was ridiculous," Manson said.
"He was taking a throw-in and he had the ball in his hands looking for someone to throw it to, for about 15 seconds, something like that – nothing major. And the referee came straight over, flashed a second yellow and a red in his face and told him to get off.
"There was no warning to say 'come on, hurry up or I'm going to have to book you'. That's when Mark Cowie got sent off as well, because he was remonstrating about it.
"He [Cowie] didn't really say anything bad towards the referee. Like he did to me, he just ran over and flashed a red card in his face and that was it.
"They were 3-0 up with 10 minutes to go, so it's not as if they were hanging on and wanting to waste time. He was genuinely looking for someone to throw the ball to. It was bizarre."
More played in goal as regular keeper Graeme Williamson unavailable for family reasons. Second-choice keeper Billy Miller wasn't able to make the trip either, so Cody Smith from the Academy under-18s provided cover on the bench.
Brora Rangers were 4-1 winners over Keith on Saturday in a match that was switched to Golspie because of pitch problems at Dudgeon Park.
The Cattachs have managed only 14 league fixtures this season, the same number as Buckie Thistle, with the season due to finish on April 13.
Two goals by James Wallace and one each for Jordan MacRae and Ali Sutherland put Brora in command at King George V Park, with Craig Gill getting a consolation for the Maroons.
Champions Brechin City moved four points clear at the top with a 6-1 win at bottom club Strathspey Thistle. Grady McGrath took his goal tally for the season to 29 with a double.
Lossiemouth beat Rothes 3-1 in the Moray derby at Grant Park. Dylan Lawrence and Brandon Hutcheson scored for the Coasters before Jake Thomson pulled one back, but Ryan Farquhar made sure of the points late on.
The surprise result of the day was Inverurie Locos' 6-0 win at home to Nairn County.
County had lost just one of their previous 13 outings, winning 11, while Inverurie had been showing steady improvement after a poor start to the campaign but were still in the bottom half of the table.
An early penalty by Paul Coutts set Locos up for their best result of the season. They led by four at the break with Myles Gaffney, Nathan Meres and Jay Halliday also on target.
Nairn had veteran Ross Tokely sent off after the break. Thomas Reid added a fifth before Gaffney rounded off the scoring with his second of the afternoon.
Formartine United closed the gap on Banks O' Dee in second spot with a 3-0 win over Clachnacuddin. Julian Wade, Aaron Reid and Graeme Rodger got the goals.
Huntly returned to form with a 5-1 victory over Deveronvale. Ryan Sewell and Angus Grant got two apiece for Huntly and top scorer Andy Hunter was also on the scoresheet, with Ryan Park replying for Vale.
Buckie Thistle's home clash with Banks O' Dee was called off less than an hour before the scheduled kick-off time. Forres Mechanics' clash with Turriff United was also postponed.
Highland League results: Brora Rangers 4, Keith 1; Formartine United 3, Clachnacuddin 0; Fraserburgh 3, Wick Academy 0; Huntly 5, Deveronvale 1; Inverurie Locos 6, Nairn County 0; Lossiemouth 3, Rothes 1; Strathspey Thistle 1, Brechin City 6.
Highland League fixtures – Wednesday, January 31: Clachnacuddin v Inverurie Locos; Forres Mechanics v Huntly; Nairn County v Lossiemouth; Rothes v Strathspey Thistle; Turriff United v Fraserburgh.
Saturday, February 3: Banks O’ Dee v Keith; Brechin City v Lossiemouth; Clachnacuddin v Huntly; Deveronvale v Brora Rangers; Fraserburgh v Forres Mechanics; Nairn County v Buckie Thistle; Rothes v Inverurie Locos; Turriff United v Formartine United; Wick Academy v Strathspey Thistle.
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; Inverurie Locos v Brechin City; Keith v Nairn County; Lossiemouth v Strathspey Thistle; Turriff United v Huntly.