Buckie Thistle manager Graeme Stewart hailed his players for sustaining their Breedon Highland League title challenge with victory against Brechin City.
Max Barry’s early counter was the only goal in a cagey contest at Victoria Park as the Jags made it 14 league wins in a row.
The victory keeps Stewart’s men level on points with Fraserburgh at the top of the table, although the Broch regain top spot on goal difference after their handsome win against Clachnacuddin.
Stewart said: “With the pitch not being great, the wind and it being a game of such magnitude, I thought the boys were unbelievable in terms of work-rate and effort.
“The quality probably wasn’t there, but it was about getting a win and we ground it out.
“I think we had to win – a draw didn’t suit either team.
“Hopefully we’ll kick on now, but Brechin are still in it. I’m delighted, because it’s the hardest week we’ve had this season and we’ve come through it with flying colours.
“The boys have showed heaps of character, it was the same team as Wednesday (3-1 win over Fraserburgh) and they stepped up again.
“It’s unbelievable to have won 14 in a row.
“We’re where we want to be – we didn’t want to be out of it (the title race).”
Gift for the home side
The Jags made the perfect start when they were gifted a goal after four minutes.
Barry’s deflected free-kick should have been easy for goalkeeper Jack Wills to deal with, but he appeared to be caught in two minds about whether to punch or catch.
In the end, the custodian did neither with the ball squirming through his hands and into the net.
Despite having the wind in their favour in the first period, Brechin didn’t create many clear-cut chances.
Jamie Bain twice went close with free-kicks from long range and home goalkeeper Kevin Main saved Seth Patrick’s strike from 30 yards and a Murray MacKintosh header.
The second half, like the first, was scrappy with even less goalmouth action.
However, for Buckie there was no need to chase the game or take many risks.
They were comfortable in defence with Brechin looking bereft of ideas when they reached the final third.
It was the influential Andrew MacAskill who was closest to adding to the score.
The midfielder fired an angled shot over the crossbar and had a curling free-kick from the left caught by Wills.
Despite some late Brechin pressure, the Jags held out comfortably to extend their winning run.
Hedgemen with work to do
Brechin are now six points off the pace in fifth place.
Manager Andy Kirk said: “We’re disappointed with the result. It was a difficult game and it wasn’t a very good game in terms of quality from both sides.
“First half I thought we were the better side, although we didn’t ask enough questions of their backline and their goalkeeper.
“We had one or two half opportunities and a couple of strikes at goal.
“Ultimately the goal comes from an error from our goalkeeper – there’s no line after him and sometimes that can happen.
“The players are all honest and you can see it’s affected Jack, but it’s our job to get round him and pick him up again.
“Every outfield player makes mistakes, but sometimes when a goalkeeper makes one it ends up in a goal.
“We’ll look after Jack, there wasn’t much between the teams and unfortunately that was the deciding factor in the game.
“We keep fighting and keep pushing, the next game becomes even more important and we’ve got to try to take maximum points out of that.
“Then we’ll try to put a winning run together and see where that takes us.”