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Allan Hale wants Huntly to start looking up the Highland League

Huntly manager Allan Hale.
Allan Hale believes a top half Highland League finish is attainable for Huntly

Allan Hale wants Huntly to target a top-half finish in the Breedon Highland League.

The Black and Golds have made a number of changes to their squad over the last month and manager Hale believes they’re well-placed for the run-in.

Huntly are currently 12th in the table, six points behind Nairn County in ninth.

But Hale is looking for a strong finish to the campaign, and said: “The aim first and foremost is to focus on picking up as many positive results as we can.

“We’ve got a really tough run-in, but that’s the same for most teams.

“It’s about trying to have more consistent performances against the teams that are above us.

“If we do that, we’ll pick up points and – with how tight the league is at the moment – then a top-half finish is achievable.

“But the onus essentially is on trying to pick up points on a weekly basis, and if we do that we’ll have the opportunity to finish well.”

Gauging progress

In the long-term Huntly hope to bridge the gap to the top seven in the Highland League.

In their last two fixtures, the Christie Park outfit have been defeated by Rothes and Fraserburgh.

Hale says that illustrates the work they still need to do.

He added: “In the next run of fixtures, we’ve got Formartine, Brechin, Buckie, Inverurie and Brora to play.

“It’s an opportunity to gauge where we are in comparison with teams that are above us.

“We need to cut out basic errors and be more consistent and Saturday (2-1 loss to Fraserburgh) was a very good gauge.

“The last time we played Fraserburgh, it was men against boys and they destroyed us in every element of the game.

“Whereas on Saturday I thought the game was fairly even and we restricted them in terms of chances.

“But their quality and decision-making in the final third won them the game.

“We were physical and competitive and we’ve certainly made progress. We’re happy with where the squad is, it’s just about trying to get consistency.”

Squad changes

Hale has bolstered his attacking options in recent weeks by signing Robbie Foster from Fort William and Brodie Allen from Lossiemouth, while former Inverurie Locos striker Andy Hunter has also joined.

Meanwhile, Caiden Imbert-Thomas has moved to Deveronvale and Paul Esslemont has joined Banchory St Ternan. Reece McKeown has been loaned to Turriff United and Jack MacIver was recalled from his loan by parent club Aberdeen.

Hale said: “We felt we were lacking depth in the attacking areas, particularly since Angus Grant picked up his injury.

“It was an area we had struggled in and we were looking ahead more towards the summer, which you always look at once you reach January time.

Robbie Foster, left, is one of Huntly’s new recruits

“We had identified Robbie and Brodie as players we wanted to sign in the summer, but there were opportunities to do that now.

“As part of that process, there were players that we felt maybe didn’t fit the way we wanted the team to play, so they moved on to opportunities elsewhere.

“Overall there’s been very little outlay with the players coming in and some going out.

“I’m very pleased with where the squad is, but as a manager you’re never fully satisfied and you’re always looking for opportunities to improve.

“But I think the bulk of our work is now done. We’re working on one or two other things with next season in mind.

“It’s about identifying areas where we lack depth or where we lack in terms of options to allow us to rotate systems.”

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