Wick Groats hit back to dent Acks' title hopes
Wick Groats put the young pretenders of Thurso Acks in their place and crushed any talk of being usurped.
Acks have been the surprise package of the season so far, having shot up to second in the table after an unbeaten start.
However, the acid test of facing the team that has won the last seven titles in a row was upon them at Wick's Upper Bignold Park.
After withstanding a barrage of pressure, Acks took the lead thanks to Kuba Koziol's strike.
Groats duly took up the gauntlet and hit back with goals from Ben Sinclair, John Budge and Ryan Campbell.
Groats boss Kevin Anderson was pleased with his side's comeback but felt they should have put the game out of Acks' reach prior to them taking the lead.
He said: "That first half was probably the best we've played all season.
"We created chance after chance and had we been five or six up at half-time, nobody would have complained.
"But of course, football being what it is, there's always that danger that if you don't take your chances, the opposition will take the first one they get – and sure enough, Acks did that.
"It would have been easy for the boys to have let that setback deflate them – you see that sort of thing so often when a team gets sucker-punched.
"However, all credit to the players who showed great character to put that behind them and go out and not only retrieve the situation, but to seal all three points as well.
"I was confident we could turn it around as we had been creating chances so I knew that we would keep the pressure up and take a couple.
"Acks impressed me. They battled really hard. Although we had most of the game, they defended well.
"I'm sure they'll bounce back from this and I would not discount them from the race for the title, despite us beating them."
I'm sure Acks will bounce back from this and I would not discount them from the race for the title.
Groats' traditional title rivals Pentland United took bragging rights in their local derby against Castletown.
Goals from James Murray, Roddy Innes and Sean Campbell gave Michael Gray's men a 3-0 victory that moved them to second in the table, overtaking Acks.
Gray said: "As expected with a local derby, there was plenty of passion and energy – although we struggled to get up to speed in the first half.
"Gary Manson saw his penalty come back off the bar and we nearly lost a goal at the other end with James More making a good save.
"Thankfully we managed to get going and James's opening goal changed the complexion of the game.
"We were more like ourselves in the second half and wrapped up the points with two goals in quick succession."