Brora Rangers laid down a serious marker to the rest of the Highland League with a ruthless seven-goal dismantling of title rivals Buckie Thistle.
Despite dubiety about the early Jordan MacRae penalty that sent the home side on their way, Brora’s domination was beyond question.
It was an outstanding day for the Cattachs, with MacRae followed by six different scorers: Ally Macdonald, Gavin Morrison, Colin Williamson, Andrew Macrae, Tom Kelly and player-manager Steven Mackay.
Before the match the two sides were joined by Inverurie Locos as a trio of clubs tied on points at the top. Although Locos are still level with Brora after their victory over Clachnacuddin, the message of intent in this result thrilled Mackay, who said: “Before the game we told the boys to go out and make a statement to the league.
“We did it once this season away to Locos, so that was the task again. The boys delivered on all fronts.
“We were clinical. Scoring the penalty early on was a great start. It’s important in these games to be the first team to score – it gives you that bit of an upper hand.
“The way we managed it from then was phenomenal. The boys deserve massive credit.”
The Cattachs had rung the changes for their midweek victory over Clachnacuddin, with John Pickles, Gavin Morrison, Jordan MacRae and Greg Morrison drafted back in. Buckie also came into the match with fresh legs thanks to the postponement of their midweek trip to Rothes.
But it was first blood for the hosts on seven minutes.
The goal came from fine work down the left flank by Andrew Macrae, who squeezed the ball towards Tom Kelly, who was brushed aside by the slightest of contact from fellow Ross County loanee Jack Murray. MacRae made no mistake with a powerful effort high into Lee Herbert’s left hand corner, despite the goalkeeper diving the right way.
Brora doubled their lead on the quarter hour when former Forres Mechanics winger Macrae was again involved, as he played a deft through ball to put overlapping left back Macdonald clean through. Macdonald showed fine composure to clip the ball over the advancing Herbert.
Brora added a third a minute before half time, as Morrison swerved a 25-yard effort high into Herbert’s top left corner.
It went from bad to worse for Buckie on 56 minutes as Cheyne was sent off for a crunching challenge on Macrae just inside the Jags’ half.
Jags manager Graeme Stewart had few complaints with the decision, but could not disguise its bearing on the outcome, adding: “It’s an embarrassing scoreline.
“Jay Cheyne has done that a few times now in his career at Buckie, which I’m disappointed about. When it’s 4-0 you need to keep your shape, and he has just taken the guy out.”
The Cattachs piled further misery on the Moray outfit with two goals in the space of three minutes.
Williamson headed home the fourth before Macrae got his name on the scoresheet for the second successive match when he blasted high past Herbert.
Kelly made it six with a low finish, before substitute Mackay was gifted an open goal by Macrae to seal a compelling triumph.