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Fraserburgh maintain lead at top of Highland League but Buckie Thistle remain in hot pursuit

Sean Butcher grabbed a hat-trick for title-chasing Fraserburgh.
Sean Butcher grabbed a hat-trick for title-chasing Fraserburgh.

Sean Butcher’s second half hat-trick helped Fraserburgh to a 5-0 win at Keith, maintaining the Broch’s slender one point lead at the top of the table.

The victory saw them bounce back from dropping points in their previous outing against Turriff.

Prior to kick off there was a minute’s silence in respect of former Islavale and Keith striker Sandy Shand who died earlier in the week.

Broch coach Anthony Sherlock was delighted with the win and said: “Keith is always a tricky place.

“They are a dogged team and Craig always has them well set up.  We probably rode our luck a bit in the first half, and were happy to go in at half-time up 2-0.

“We are always likely to score going forward and the boys got what they deserved.  We were pleased with the reaction after dropping points against Turriff, but then, you are not going to win every game.

“The way we play, it’s always every man for each other.”

Sean Butcher was in goalscoring form against Keith at Kynoch Park. 

The first goal came after 10 minutes when indecision between home goalkeeper Balint Demus and defender Nizam Abdulkarim saw Lewis Duncan react quickly to slam home.

Then just after the half hour mark a slack Dem Yunus pass was latched onto by Scott Barbour who raced in to convert.

Demus went on to pull off several fine saves and Yunus recovered from his error to produce a fine performance against a sprightly Broch outfit.

Broch’s 100th league goal of the season came in the 57th minute courtesy of the first of Butcher’s treble, a fine 18-yarder into the roof of the net.

Then the striker got on the end of a Grant Campbell cross to ram home home from close range.

He completed his hat-trick with 73 minutes gone, flicking home a searching Lewis Duncan free kick.

Keith manager Craig Ewen said: “We were marginally better than against Brechin, but we are in a tough run of games just now.

“In the first half we kept our defensive shape, but when you are playing the best teams they know how to keep you on the back foot.

“They did all they had to do, they were quicker and sharper, and dominated for long spells.”

Buckie Thistle 3-0 Huntly

Buckie Thistle recorded a comfortable win over Huntly at Christie Park to stay within a point of league leaders Fraserburgh at the top of the table, racking up an incredible 16th league win in a row in the process.

First half goals from Kevin Fraser and Sam Urquhart put the Jags in control at the break, then a third from Sam Morrison sealed the win.

Boss Graeme Stewart was very pleased with the performance.

Buckie Thistle boss Graeme Stewart. Picture by Scott Baxter

He said: “I’m delighted with how we played and I think we controlled the whole game. They caused us one or two little problems first half, but none second half.

“We could have had one or two more goals, but we’ve got a big game Wednesday (against Keith) so we made some substitutions.

“I though Jack Murray and Sam Morrison were outstanding, Shaun Wood had his best game for a while for us and Hamish Munro was excellent.

“On Wednesday (against Locos) I don’t think we played to our capabilities, but today we set a standard and we need to try and keep that going.

“The Ketih game is huge now. I know they’ve been beaten heavily by Fraserburgh but it’s a derby and they’ll be up for it.

“It can be difficult to get up for a Wednesday game when boys are working, and I think that’s why we were a bit flat against Locos.”

Buckie took the lead in the 11th minute with a superbly worked goal.

Andrew MacAskill found space in the centre of the pitch, cut inside his man and played an excellent pass through to Fraser, who showed great composure to round Euan Storrier and slot the ball home from ten yards.

Goal number two came eight minutes before the break, Urquhart spinning well to slot home from eight yards after his initial effort from MacAskill’s cross was only partly cleared by a combination of Storrier and Christopher Hay.

The home side sealed the win with goal number three on the hour mark, Max Barry’s cross to the far post finding Jack Murray and when his blasted effort was blocked, Morrison was there to fire high into the net from close range.

Huntly captain Zander Jack was sent off late on for a lunging challenge on MacAskill to compound the misery for the visitors.

Huntly assistant manager Stefan Laird lamented the number of players and coaching staff they had missing.

He said: “We had nine players out due to Covid, suspension and injuries and we knew it was going to be tough coming here.

“I thought we acquitted ourselves okay in the first half, we had four or five opportunities but we didn’t take them.

“We can’t continue to present teams with chances and the with the quality that Buckie have got, they’re going to punish you.”

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