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Wick Academy eager to get the better of Nairn County at third attempt

By Alan Hendry

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Darryl McHardy of Buckie Thistle gets a grip of Kyle Henderson's shirt during last Saturday's match at Victoria Park. Picture: Mel Roger
Darryl McHardy of Buckie Thistle gets a grip of Kyle Henderson's shirt during last Saturday's match at Victoria Park. Picture: Mel Roger

Wick Academy will be going all out to avoid an unwanted treble when they renew their acquaintance with Nairn County on Saturday.

The Highland League clash at Harmsworth Park will be the third meeting between the clubs this season, with the Scorries having lost both games so far without even scoring a goal.

Nairn won 1-0 in a Highland League Cup preliminary round tie in Wick in August, then secured a 2-0 victory when the teams met in the league at Station Park at the end of October.

Steven Mackay's side lifted the North of Scotland Cup earlier this month with an epic 5-4 victory over Ross County and they are on a run of six league wins in a row. A 1-0 victory over Clachnacuddin in midweek elevated them to fifth in the table.

However, Academy have shown some encouraging form in recent weeks. They picked up a 2-1 win against Inverurie Locos and had a 2-2 draw with Huntly, both at home, before last weekend's 5-2 defeat to Buckie Thistle after a contentious red card was shown to Wick's Owen Rendall with the score at 3-2.

The red card has since been downgraded to yellow.

Academy manager Gary Manson said: "This will be our third game against them this season and they are on a good run of form.

"They're always tight games against Nairn.

"The cup tie was decided by one scuffed finish from Conor Gethins – either team could have sneaked that game.

"The game in Nairn more recently, we played really well that day. We kept the ball well, we dominated possession and territory, but we just couldn't turn that into goals and we ended up conceding two cheapish goals in the second half.

"I wouldn't think there's too much between the teams. Yes, they're on a good run, and they'll be full of confidence because of that run and because of their cup win, so it'll be a tough game.

"But there isn't an awful lot between the two teams going by the evidence of our two games with them already. We'll go in and give it our best shot.

"We got beaten on Saturday but in our last three games we've come up against three good teams and have given a right good account of ourselves and taken four points.

"We gave as good as we got at Buckie. On another day, Owen doesn't get sent off and we go on to get a draw and take a point up the road.

"In the last three games we've played we've competed really well against three good teams.

"I've said before, Locos won't be down there [in the bottom five] for very long. We beat them, and Huntly are flying high and we should have beaten them, and we competed really well away to Buckie."

The Highland League Cup tie at the start of the season was settled by an 11th-minute strike from Conor Gethins, who has since been appointed as Clachnacuddin manager. In last month's league match in Nairn, the Scorries were left empty-handed after second-half goals by George Robesten and Ciaran Young.

Callum Maclean's 26th-minute goal was enough to give Nairn all three points against Clachnacuddin at a blustery Grant Street Park on Wednesday night.

Brechin City opened up a five-point lead at the top after a 3-1 home win against Keith.

It was Brechin's first game under new manager Gavin Price. The former Elgin City boss had two spells as a player at Glebe Park in the 1990s.

Banks O' Dee moved into second place with a 4-0 victory at Turriff.

Myles Gaffney got the only goal as Inverurie Locos won at Forres.

Highland League results from Wednesday: Brechin City 3, Keith 1; Clachnacuddin 0, Nairn County 1; Forres Mechanics 0, Inverurie Locos 1; Rothes 2, Deveronvale 1; Strathspey Thistle 1, Huntly 4; Turriff United 0, Banks O' Dee 4.

Fixtures for Saturday – Highland League: Brechin City v Fraserburgh; Forres Mechanics v Rothes; Huntly v Banks O' Dee; Inverurie Locos v Deveronvale; Lossiemouth v Clachnacuddin; Strathspey Thistle v Turriff United; Wick Academy v Nairn County (3pm).

Scottish Cup, third round: Brora Rangers v Pollok; Broxburn Athletic v Buckie Thistle; Falkirk v Formartine United.

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