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Highland League: EVERY game previewed as Buckie Thistle look for revenge and vital points against Brechin City

It could be a pivotal weekend in the Breedon Highland League.

Buckie Thistle's Sam Pugh is looking forward to taking on Brechin City.
Buckie Thistle's Sam Pugh is looking forward to taking on Brechin City.

Sam Pugh wants Buckie Thistle to get one over Brechin City to help sustain their challenge for the Breedon Highland League.

The Jags travel to Glebe Park this afternoon for their first meeting with the Hedgemen since the Angus side pipped them to the title on the final day of last season at Victoria Park.

This term Buckie have four games in hand, but are 12 points behind Brechin, who top of the table.

Midfielder Pugh – who continues to captain Thistle in Kevin Fraser’s absence – is keen to gain some revenge for last term and also secure vital points in this season’s title race.

The 26-year-old said: “We’re over what happened last season. But there is a bit of dig there because it’s two teams wanting to go for the league again.

“It’s the first time we’ve played Brechin since and we’d like to get one over them.

“I think it’s important and if we want to be challenging then getting the three points would be good.

“There’s still a long way to go and nothing is tied up, but a win would keep us going in the right direction.

“We believe we can do it, with the games we’ve got to play, such as this one, we know it’s going to be tough.

“The quality is there, it’s just about putting in the work like we did on Wednesday (5-1 win against Brora Rangers).”

Brechin are in fine form having won their last seven league games, but captain Euan Spark is bracing himself to face a fired-up Buckie.

The defender also reckons regardless of today’s result the title race could go to the wire again.

Spark, 27, added: “Regardless of what happened last season it’s two good teams who want to win the league so it’s always going to be competitive.

Brechin captain Euan Spark is ready to face Buckie.

“But the game will have an extra edge because both sides were so close last season.

“Both sides will feel they need to make the most of these games when we play each other and I’m sure they’ll be out to get revenge against us.

“If we were to win it maybe makes it harder for Buckie – but whatever the outcome this isn’t going to decide the league.

“I think it could come down to the last game or last couple of games of the season again.

“For us it’s a massive game and we’re in a fortunate position having played more games and having points on the board.

“But that doesn’t mean anything is over, Buckie are still right in the mix.”

News from around the Highland League

Elsewhere, Fraserburgh are without Ryan Cowie, Ross Aitken and Josh Bolton for the visit of Huntly to Bellslea.

Joe Gauld is a doubt for the Black and Golds, who will also give fitness tests to Lewis Crosbie and Brodie Allen.

Nairn County and Deveronvale will both aim to get back to winning ways when they clash at Station Park, with the hosts welcoming back goalkeeper Dylan MacLean.

Wick Academy face Lossiemouth at Harmsworth Park. The Scorries could hand a debut to Matthew Robertson, but Sean Campbell, Owen Rendall, Alan Hughes, Brandon Sinclair and James Mackay are out.

Jared Kennedy returns from suspension for the Coasters, who are still missing Ross Elliott and Baylee Campbell.

Strathspey Thistle have Iain Ross back for their clash with Inverurie Locos at Seafield Park, which is a 2pm kick-off.

The Railwaymen are still missing captain Greg Mitchell.

Clachnacuddin versus Banks o’ Dee at Grant Street Park is also a 2pm kick-off. James Anderson, Martin MacKinnon and Millar Gamble are missing for the Lilywhites.

For the visitors Luke Emmett is a doubt, but captain Kane Winton could return.

Andrew Skinner and Jack Grant are doubts for Forres Mechanics’ Mosset Park encounter with Formartine United.

The Pitmedden side are missing Graeme Rodger due to suspension, while Rhys Thomas, Daniel Park and Kieran Adams are sidelined with injury.

Keith hope to be happy travellers

Keith boss Craig Ewen is targeting an improvement in away form – starting with today’s meeting with Rothes at Mackessack Park.

The Maroons got back to winning ways with an impressive triumph against Turriff United at Kynoch Park in midweek.

However, with 11 of Keith’s 14 Breedon Highland League points being earned at home, Ewen is looking for more success on the road.

He said: “We seem to be more competitive at home, but we need to try to get more points away from.

“We’ve lost a lot of narrow games, but our game management in some of them has been poor.

“Our game management was better on Wednesday and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.

Keith manager Craig Ewen.

“If we could get a result it would be very encouraging because our away form hasn’t been good enough.

“We just need to see if we can build on Wednesday in what is another difficult game against Rothes.”

Meanwhile, Gary Kerr wants to help Rothes get back to winning ways and also make a case for receiving a new contract.

The striker – who has scored five times this season – has been with the Speysiders since January 2018, but his deal is up in the summer.

Rothes striker Gary Kerr.

Kerr, 33, added: “I am playing for my future, I’ll say quite openly that I’d be happy to sign on again at Rothes if the option was there.

“Right now I’m just trying to play every week and do the best I can.

“Hopefully the gaffer wants to keep me here, but we’ll see what happens.

“I’ve scored some goals, but I’d like to at least get into double figures by the end of the season.

“Hopefully we create some more chances and I can stick a few of them away.”

Turriff’s Clark aims for goal target

Ewan Clark is savouring leading the line for his hometown team Turriff United and wants to get back on the goal trail when they face Brora Rangers.

Both Turra and the Cattachs are looking to return to winning ways at the Haughs this afternoon in the Breedon Highland League.

Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Keith was the first time United have failed to score since November 22.

Striker Clark has been one of the main reasons for that having netted 15 goals this term.

The 31-year-old was with Turriff as a youngster but returned to the club in the summer of 2022 after spells in Junior and amateur football.

Turriff’s Ewan Clark.

Clark said: “Hopefully we can get back to hitting the net again because we’ve been scoring regularly.

“Personally my target at the start of the season was 20 so I need to keep going and keep helping the team.

“It’s been good to show what I can do at this level.

“After being with Turriff when I was younger I never thought I’d be back.

“It’s pretty special to be back at the club anyway, but to be scoring goals and helping us have a good season is even better.”

Dale Gillespie of Brora.

Brora were thumped 5-1 by Buckie Thistle in midweek. The Sutherland side are 21 points behind leaders Brechin, but do still have five games in hand.

Co-captain Dale Gillespie, 34, said: “We need to try to bounce back, but we expect it to be a tough game against Turriff.

“We need to try to win every game and just see where it takes us.

“We’ve got a lot of league games to play (18) and the schedule will be difficult.

“It’s going to be a busy spell but if we can keep winning games then it should be enjoyable.”

Watch: Highland League Weekly EXTRA – Highlights of Brora Rangers v Buckie Thistle