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EE Aberdeenshire Cup and Highland League reports: Buckie Thistle and Inverurie Locos secure final spots

We round-up all of the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup and Breedon Highland League action.

Jack MacIver, centre, celebrates scoring for Buckie Thistle against Fraserburgh with team-mates Joe McCabe, left, and Andrew MacAskill.
Jack MacIver, centre, celebrates scoring for Buckie Thistle against Fraserburgh with team-mates Joe McCabe, left, and Andrew MacAskill.

Graeme Stewart wants Buckie Thistle to grasp their shot at glory after reaching the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup final in emphatic fashion.

The Jags set-up a meeting with Inverurie Locos – which is set to be played on April 19 – courtesy of a 5-2 victory against Fraserburgh at Bellslea.

Buckie haven’t lifted a trophy for seven years. In that period they’ve been second in the Breedon Highland League twice and lost in three finals.

Stewart said: “I’m delighted with the performance and result. We punished their mistakes and were clinical, which is what we talk about.

“It’s Fraserburgh away and it’s going to be a battle, but I think we showed as well as being a good footballing team we can battle with the best.

Jack Murray scores for Buckie against Fraserburgh.

“I think we should have won something in the last three or four years and we haven’t.

“We’ve got a big opportunity in the cup now and we need to work hard to get an opportunity in the league.

“A cup final is a toss of a coin, Locos will be well up for it and we know how hard it will be.

“But we’re capable of beating anyone and we’ve shown that, but we can also slip up against anyone.

“That comes down to concentration and the basics. If we’re going to be winning things I need the team that turned up tonight to turn up for the rest of the season.”

Jags go nap

Buckie took the lead on 19 minutes when they counter-attacked on Fraserburgh and Lyall Keir beat Ross Aitken to the ball before producing an excellent lob over goalkeeper Joe Barbour, who had come off his line.

Five minutes later the Jags doubled their lead. A ball down the right looked to be straightforward for Kieran Simpson to deal with, but Barbour came out to clear, however, his mis-kick sent the ball to Jack MacIver and he found the unguarded net.

The Broch pulled a goal back after half an hour with Aitken’s deflected strike from 16 yards looping over goalkeeper Stuart Knight.

On 41 minutes Thistle made it 3-1 with Jack Murray finishing from 14 yards after the hosts failed to clear MacIver’s free-kick from the right.

Ross Aitken, second from the right, scores for Fraserburgh.

Four minutes into the second period Murray netted again, this time from the penalty spot, after Bryan Hay tripped Max Barry.

Sub Marcus Goodall made it five for the Jags, scoring from 30 yards after Barbour had again come out to try to clear.

In injury time Aidan Sopel’s deflected drive gave the Broch a consolation.

Fraserburgh’s defence of the Shire Cup is over and boss Mark Cowie added: “It was a strange game. It might sound ridiculous, but in general play there wasn’t a lot in it and we’ve had good chances.

“But at any level of football if you defend the way we did as a group and make the mistakes we made you won’t win games, especially against teams of Buckie’s calibre.

“It was our own doing, Buckie were good and take nothing away from them, but we gift-wrapped them five goals and we need to do better.”

Aberdeen 1-2 Inverurie Locos

Inverurie Locos assistant manager Greg Moir dedicated their Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup semi-final victory over Aberdeen to boss Dean Donaldson and the club’s stalwart band of volunteers.

The Locos manager missed the win due to a family commitment but his players turned in a fine performance to book their spot in the April 19 final as they look to win the competition for the first time in their history.

Moir said: “This is a club that needs to be reaching cup finals and what they aspire to. I’m delighted for Dean but I’m also delighted for the committee as they put so much effort into this club.

“As much as Dean is our leader, it was just another day at the office and at the end of the day, you don’t get anything for winning semi-finals.

“You’ve got to go now and win the final. Buckie will be massive favourites but we’ve shown already that we’ve progressively got better as the season has gone on and it’s going to be a big game. We need to use the underdog title as motivation.”

Inverurie’s Jay Halliday on the ball. Image: Jasper Image.

Goals from Myles Gaffney and Nathan Meres secured a hard-fought win for Locos.

Aberdeen opened the scoring in the 29th minute. It was a smart breakaway from Scott Anderson’s team after Tom Ritchie had made a good stop to deny Thomas Reid at one end and the youngsters charged up the field.

Inverurie Locos’ Mark Souter gets up highest but his header finished over the bar. Image: Jasper Image.

Adam Emslie played a key role building the counter-attack and he did well to set up Alfie Bavidge who took a touch to steady himself in the box before lashing past Zack Ellis.

Despite the setback, Inverurie were level seven minutes later. Jay Halliday made a nice run beyond the Aberdeen backline but his cute finish smacked the base of the post. Fortunately for him, it landed at the feet of Gaffney and he rolled the ball into the back of the net.

Locos came charging out the blocks in the second period and it took a reflex save from Ritchie to deny Gaffney his second shortly after the restart.

But they were rewarded for their efforts when Meres took advantage of a slip in the Aberdeen defence to drill a brilliant strike across goal and into the bottom corner.

Strathspey 1-10 Brora Rangers

Brora Rangers surged back to winning ways with a rampant 10-1 victory over Strathspey Thistle at Seafield Park.

Following the postponement of their trip to Buckie Thistle on Saturday, the Jags were in action for the first time since manager Robert MacCormack announced he will step down at the end of the season.

The Cattachs made the trip to Speyside with a depleted squad, with Jordan MacRae, Colin Williamson and Mark Nicolson among those sidelined.

Brora looked to make a fast start, with Allan Kerr making an excellent clearance to deny Kyle MacLeod from Gregor MacDonald’s cutback, while Josh Meekings was denied from point-blank range by goalkeeper Ethan Rae.

The Cattachs were not to be denied on 10 minutes when James Wallace set up Paul Brindle who managed to squeeze the ball home from close-range at the second attempt.

The Cattachs doubled their lead six minutes before the break with Tony Dingwall’s corner sparking a goal-line scramble from which Millar Gamble emerged to fire low into the net.

Brora were denied a third within 11 seconds of the restart, with Brindle setting up MacLeod for a shot which was beaten away by Rae.

The Cattachs increased their lead just a minute later with Brindle reacting fastest to fire home when the ball broke loose at another corner.

Brora made it four on 49 minutes when Dingwall curled a fine strike into the far corner from the left angle of the penalty box.

The visitors had further goals in them with Dingwall going through on goal before firing home his second.

Strathspey pulled a goal back on the hour mark, when Kerr towered above the Brora defence to power a header past Logan Ross.

Just five minutes later the Cattachs restored their five-goal advantage with substitute Martin MacLean taking down an Ali Morrison ball before rifling a sublime shot beyond past Rae.

MacLeod added his name to the scoresheet again on 74 minutes with a neat sidefoot finish, before Wallace curled home an eighth from the edge of the box.

MacLeod turned home his second goal with six minutes remaining before Dingwall completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot in stoppage time to compound a miserable night for the Grantown outfit.

Turriff United 1-3 Deveronvale

Deveronvale secured their fourth win of the season with a thoroughly deserved victory over rivals Turriff United to leapfrog Clachnacuddin into 16th place in the Breedon Highland League table.

Vale shocked United when they took the lead in the second minute, Harry Noble’s low drive from the edge of the box clattered back off the post and Jack Mitchell reacted first to fire home the rebound from 10 yards.

Only a timely interception by Turriff keeper David Dey, when he raced out of the box to rob the rampaging Mitchell as he was about to pull the trigger, denied Vale a second goal in the 10th minute.

Mitchell was again in the thick of the action after 20 minutes but this time his 20-yard rising drive cleared the crossbar.

Five minutes later it took a brilliant fingertip save by Vale number one Sean McIntosh to stop Ewan Clark’s eight-yard snapshot from producing the leveller.

Reece McKeown should have scored for the home side but his 15-yard drive skimmed the post, Vale replied with a Jamie MacLellan effort which clipped the crossbar on its way over.

Vale doubled their advantage on the 52nd minute when Harry Noble, all on his own in the box, fired the ball under the diving Dey from 12 yards.

Rogan Read made it 3-0 to the Banffers in the 66th minute when he ran onto a deep cross to ram the ball past the diving Dey from six yards.

Three minutes later John Allan pulled one back for United with an emphatic close-range finish.

Keith 1-1 Nairn County

Keith extended their unbeaten run in the Breedon Highland League to five games with a 1-1 draw against Nairn County at Kynoch Park.

The Wee County remain without an away win in the league since a 3-0 success at Rothes in December.

Nairn created a couple of early chances with Andrew Macleod trying his luck with a 20-yard attempt which flew just over before Ben Barron’s glancing header finished the wrong side of the post.

The visitors took the lead in the 24th minute when a clearance from Keith’s Ryan Robertson bounced off Horace Ormsby and the ball flew into the top corner.

The home side tried to get back on level terms with Mikey Taylor’s header saved by Dylan Maclean.

Taylor had the ball in the back of the net in the 38th minute but the goal was chalked off for offside.

Jordan Cooper equalised for Keith in the 66th minute with a strike from 15 yards.

Keith, who earlier had a penalty appeal waved away when Taylor went down following a challenge from Nairn goalkeeper MacLean, could have won the match late on when Jake Stewart raced through but was denied by the Nairn custodian.

Watch: Highland League Weekly – Highlights of Brora v Fraserburgh, Huntly v Forres and Banks o’ Dee v Turriff