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Tunnel vision for Highland League leaders Fraserburgh after victory over Inverurie Locos

Scott Barbour celebrates scoring Fraserburgh's second goal in their victory over Inverurie Locos
Scott Barbour celebrates scoring Fraserburgh's second goal in their victory over Inverurie Locos

Fraserburgh manager Mark Cowie praised his side for increasing their lead at the top of the Breedon Highland League with victory over Inverurie Locos.

But the Broch boss insists they can’t get carried away despite their 2-0 win at Harlaw Park.

The Buchan side were five points clear of the second-placed Railwaymen at kick-off on Saturday, but this win means their lead is now six points with Buckie Thistle in second.

Cowie said: “We’re in the position everyone wants to be in – don’t get me wrong I’d rather be there come April.

“But if you said to every team they’d be top of the league at this time they’d all take it.

“We’ve got a lot of big games and a lot of tough games ahead.

“But everyone else has tough games as well between now and the end of the season, there will be a lot of chopping and changing at the top end.

“You can’t discount anybody and every game will be tough between now and the end of the season.

“The gap could change in a couple of weeks. We just focus on ourselves, it’s important we keep our feet on the ground.”

Clean sheets crucial

Cowie was pleased Fraserburgh managed to shut out Inverurie and added: “The key for us is keeping clean sheets.

“If we do that we’ll be OK because our firepower going forward means we will score goals.

“They (the forwards) didn’t have their best game, but they score goals and they’re always a threat.

“Defensively I thought Bryan Hay was immense and Paul Leask made four or five big saves at key moments.”

Combe and Barbour make the difference

In an absorbing first half the visitors went close with Scott Barbour having an effort blocked by a combination of Ryan Broadhurst and Andy Reid and Paul Young having an effort deflected wide.

At the other end goalkeeper Paul Leask denied Locos’ Kieran Shanks on three occasions.

First he held a snap-shot from inside the box, then he made a save at his near post after Willie West’s fresh air swipe let Shanks in down the right and finally he parried a strike from the edge of box clear after the striker jinked away from Bryan Hay and West.

The Broch took the lead in the 42nd minute with Greg Mitchell initially snuffing out Aidan Combe’s raid down the left.

But when the full-back tried to pass to Reid, Barbour intercepted and teed up Combe to finish from close range.

Aidan Combe puts Fraserburgh ahead against Inverurie Locos

Just after the opener Leask made a brave block to thwart Neil Gauld before West blocked Sam Burnett’s follow-up and before the half was out Fraserburgh’s Sean Butcher clipped the top of the crossbar with a header.

After the break clear-cut chances were harder to come by, but Inverurie kept probing in search of an equaliser while Fraserburgh looked a threat on the break.

Locos were reduced to 10 men on 71 minutes with Jamie Michie receiving a second yellow card from referee Robin Taylor for a sliding challenge on Paul Young.

Despite Inverurie pressure in the closing stages Barbour secured victory in the third minute of stoppage time.

He flicked the ball past Ryan Broadhurst to race through on goal before rounding Reid and finishing from a tight angle.

Inverurie drop to fifth in the table, seven points behind Fraserburgh having played two games more.

Locos boss frustrated with goal gift

Manager Richard Hastings said: “We’re obviously disappointed, it was a hard fought game which we expected.

“We’re really disappointed to give them a goal – I’m sure they’d be honest enough to say it was a gift on our behalf.

“It wasn’t as much of a footballing game as I wanted it to be. When we were able to get the ball down we looked more comfortable and more of a threat.

“We know how Fraserburgh play, they’re very direct and good at that. It was important for us not to get drawn into that and at times we maybe did.

“I’ve never given up on anything in my life and we have to take the positives from the game.

Inverurie’s Jamie Michie, third from left, receives a red card from referee Robin Taylor during their game against Fraserburgh

“Will Fraserburgh go the rest of the season unbeaten? Maybe they will, but there’s a good chance they won’t.

“There’s everything to play for and dog will eat dog in the top seven.”

On the dismissal of Michie he added: “It’s two yellows and all you want is the same type of things to get reprimanded.

“There was a moment earlier in the game that was a far worse moment and a card wasn’t brandished.

“It’s two soft yellows and I think for the second one Jamie slipped, there was no intent.

“I never want to blame results on the officials, if we’d taken our chances I wouldn’t have been talking about it.”

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