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Highland League reports – Five-star Buckie Thistle crush Brora Rangers; Banks o’ Dee, Huntly, Inverurie Locos and Keith win

We round-up Wednesday's five Breedon Highland League matches, including scorers, key moments and reaction.

Buckie Thistle celebrate after Jack MacIver scored the first goal in their 5-1 win at Brora Rangers. Image: Jasperimage.
Buckie Thistle celebrate after Jack MacIver scored the first goal in their 5-1 win at Brora Rangers. Image: Jasperimage.

Buckie Thistle boss Graeme Stewart reckons his side put in their best display of the season as they crushed Brora Rangers 5-1 at Dudgeon Park.

Jack McIver’s deflected goal gave the Jags an early foothold, while a Joe McCabe header, Lyall Keir strike and Jack Murray’s spot-kick took it to four inside the opening 33 minutes.

Jordan MacRae’s late consolation was the crumb of comfort on what was otherwise night to forget for the Sutherland side, before Keir notched a fifth goal for Buckie in stoppage-time.

Title-chasers Buckie are now within two points of fourth-placed Fraserburgh, and 12 points off champions and leaders Brechin City – with four games in hand.

Buckie boss Graeme Stewart hails scoring stars

Stewart feels his men are clicking into gear as the matches come thick and fast, with defending champions Brechin next up on Saturday.

He said: “That was one of our best performances of the season so far. You come here and you take any win. We wanted to come here and get three points – the guys took it literally in the first half. That was as good as we have played away from home.

“The front four or five were outstanding. Jack MacIver, Max Barry, Lyall Keir, Andrew MacAskill and Josh Peters. They were unplayable and I told them they have to keep doing that.

“They have not been at it in the last three or four weeks due to a lack of sharpness because we have not played a lot of games, but the fitness is there now.

“The second half was just as good. We know at 4-0 the game is kind of over, but our game management was excellent. The only disappointment was we could have scored a few more – and that Brora goal annoyed me.”

Brora boss – ‘Embarrassing’ display

Brora player-boss Ally MacDonald didn’t hold back with his post-match assessment.

The Cattachs still have five games in hand on leaders Brechin, but with the gap at 21 points, the loss to Buckie is a blow to their title aspirations.

MacDonald said: “I was very disappointed in the lack of fight, especially in the first half when we were nowhere near it. We know how Buckie play. They are direct and they are very good at it.

“If you are not willing to go and win headers or anticipate second balls, to manage it or deal with it, you get punished and that’s what happened. It was embarrassing.”

Banks o’ Dee 4-0 Rothes

Co-manager Josh Winton has challenged Banks o’ Dee to keep themselves near the top of the Breedon Highland League after moving to within a point of the summit.

The Aberdeen outfit beat Rothes 4-0 at Spain Park to reduce Brechin City’s lead at the head of the division to a single point – although the Hedgemen do have two games in hand.

Dee have won six successive league games, with their only league defeat this term being against Brechin in September.

Winton, who is joint-boss with Paul Lawson, said: “The league table is a bit topsy-turvy with everyone having played a different number of games.

“All we can do is try to keep putting points on the board. We’ve spoken about just concentrating on ourselves – there’s a lot of football for everyone still to play.

Lachie MacLeod, right, scores for Banks o’ Dee against Rothes. Image:  Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

“But if we can keep winning, it keeps us at the right end of the table.”

After a goalless first period, Dee produced an impressive second half display to get the better of Rothes.

Winton added: “We’re very pleased, it was a very controlled performance.

“In the first half, we maybe missed that bit of cutting edge in the final third.

“But we got it in the second half and it was a pleasing performance and result.”

Second half show from Dee gets the job done

In the 17th minute, Dee’s Chris Antoniazzi narrowly missed out on finding the net or team-mate Lachie MacLeod with a cross-cum-shot from the left side of the area.

Five minutes shy of the interval, Brendan Hamilton’s cross from the left teed up MacLeod, but goalkeeper Sean McCarthy made a good stop.

The Speysiders’ best effort was Jake Thomson’s curling free-kick from wide on the left, which was tipped over by Daniel Hoban.

Five minutes into the second half, the deadlock was broken when MacLeod beat the offside trap to latch on to Luke Emmett’s ball in behind and the striker blasted a half-volley past McCarthy from 14 yards.

Banks o’ Dee v Rothes in the Breedon Highland League. Chris Antoniazzi, centre, has a shot for Dee blocked by Callum Cruickshank of Rothes. Image:  Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

In the 52nd minute, MacLeod turned provider with a cross from the right which Mark Gilmour headed into the bottom right corner from six yards to make it 2-0.

On 64 minutes, Dee sealed their victory. Garry Wood’s pinpoint pass found MacLeod on the left of the area and he applied a deft finishing touch.

The fourth goal arrived in the 74th minute when sub Ethan Cairns outmuscled Callum Cruickshank to break through on goal before coolly slotting home with his left foot.

Rothes have won only once in their last 10 games, and new manager Richard Hastings is without a point after two matches in charge.

He said: “It’s a frustrating one. We were in the game at half-time – although we were maybe a bit fortunate to come in level.

“I’m disappointed with the first goal because it’s a needless one to concede. The second came not long after and it knocked the stuffing out of us a wee bit.

“We didn’t cause Banks o’ Dee enough problems and we didn’t look after the ball as well as could have.”

Wins for Huntly, Inverurie Locos and Keith

Elsewhere, Huntly bounced back from Saturday’s heavy defeat away to Turriff United with an impressive 4-2 away victory at Nairn County.

The visitors went ahead after three minutes when Andy Hunter burst down the left and crossed low across the box for Robbie Foster to fire low to the far post.

Huntly doubled their lead after 20 minutes when Foster headed the ball on for Finlay Allen to net his first Black and Golds goal.

Fraser Hobday prevented hosts Nairn from pulling one back when he had to parry away an Andrew MacLeod shot from range.

There was then a let-off for Nairn with three minutes of the half remaining when goalkeeper Lewis Munro dropped the ball, but Callum Murray chipped over.

Huntly added a third minutes into the second half, though, when the home defence were caught looking for an offside and Hunter took advantage to roll home.

In the 50th minute, Huntly’s Ross Still gave away a penalty for a challenge on Ben Barron, with Barron despatching the spot-kick.

Nairn reduced the deficit further on 57 minutes when captain Fraser Dingwall headed in after a corner wasn’t cleared.

However, Huntly wrapped up the win in the 67th minute, when Allen won the ball against Ross Tokely and played in Foster, who netted his 10th of the season on the rebound after an initial shot was blocked by Dingwall.

Meanwhile, Callum Duncan’s first half strike secured a 1-0 victory for Inverurie Locos at Lossiemouth.

The Railwaymen made the brighter start and the breakthrough came on 17 minutes when Duncan latched onto a loose ball, carrying it into the area before lifting it over Lossie keeper Cameron Farquhar.

Duncan had a similar opportunity five minutes later, but on this occasion the keeper was out quickly to block.

The Coasters then began to show as an attacking force. Brandon Hutcheson fed Ross Morrison down the right, but his dangerous low cross was cleared by Locos defender Mark Souter.

Just after the break an error by Souter presented an opportunity for Dylan Lawrence, but Zack Ellis saved his powerful shot.

Locos’ pace was a constant threat and they  pushed for a second, but Farquhar was on form to deny Duncan, Logan Johnstone, Nathan Meres and Myles Gaffney.

Keith secured their first win since December 9 by beating Turriff United 1-0 at Kynoch Park.

It looked like the first half would be goalless, after Maroons keeper Craig Reid kept out John Allan from point-blank range and then a deflected Murray Cormack strike – either side of Turriff’s David Dey blocking a Gavin Elphinstone drive.

Keith's Jordan Cooper, left. Image: Jasperimage.
Keith’s Jordan Cooper, left. Image: Jasperimage.

However, ex-Turra player Jordan Cooper finished off a neat three-pass Keith move to finish into the bottom corner from 12 yards on the stroke of the interval.

Both keepers made further saves after the break, but there was no further scoring.

Meanwhile, Strathspey Thistle v Wick Academy was postponed due to a frozen pitch.