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Highland League: EVERY game previewed as Banks o’ Dee face Fraserburgh with Garry Wood pursuing elusive medal

We look ahead to Saturday's Breedon Highland League card.

Garry Wood and his Banks o' Dee team-mates are set to face Fraserburgh in the Breedon Highland League.
Garry Wood and his Banks o' Dee team-mates are set to face Fraserburgh in the Breedon Highland League.

Garry Wood would love to complete his medal collection by helping Banks o’ Dee to Breedon Highland League title glory.

But the experienced striker knows the Aberdeen side face another test of their credentials when they tackle Fraserburgh at Bellslea tomorrow.

Dee are top of the table on goal difference, having played two games more than second-placed Brechin City.

Wood, who joined Banks o’ Dee in October, hasn’t won the Highland League before.

During spells with Formartine United, Brechin City and Inverurie Locos the 36-year-old has won the GPH Builders Merchants Highland League Cup, the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup and Morrison Motors (Turriff) Aberdeenshire Shield.

Wood said: “You need to try to take care of games like this.

“All we can do is try to focus on ourselves and pick up as many points as we can. We’re just trying to win as many games as we can and see where we are at the end of the season.

“I haven’t managed to win the Highland League and I’d like to do that.

Garry Wood in action for Banks o’ Dee.

“Banks o’ Dee is an ambitious club, they want to challenge for the title which we’re doing this season.

“If I could win the league having been close a few times before with Formartine that would be great.

“I’ve really enjoyed it since I joined, I’ve still got faith in my ability and I still feel I can do it at this level.

“I think I’ve shown that when I’ve been available. After my (toe) operation last year it took some time to get back to my best, but I’ve managed to do it.

“I was happy to come to Banks o’ Dee and it’s good to be challenging for the league.”

Broch response required

Meanwhile, Greg Buchan says third-placed Fraserburgh need to produce a positive reaction following their midweek disappointment.

The Broch’s defence of the Aberdeenshire Cup ended with a 5-2 home defeat by Buckie Thistle.

Midfielder Buchan accepts that display fell below the standards they expect.

The 26-year-old added: “It was a very disappointing defeat on Wednesday, we know Buckie are a good team but you can’t make the errors we did.

“As a group it wasn’t good enough. At home in a semi-final of a cup you can’t be losing 5-2.

Fraserburgh’s Greg Buchan.

“We have to pick ourselves up, we need to be better. There are no excuses, we need to go again and try to get a result.

“There’s still a lot to play for this season, we’d like to be in the top four in the league.

“We’ll try to win this game and get ourselves closer to Banks o’ Dee.

“We don’t want anyone coming to Bellslea and getting an easy game so hopefully we can get three points.”

News from around the Highland League

Elsewhere, Formartine United take on Huntly at North Lodge Park. Daniel Park, Rhys Thomas, Aaron Norris, Ryan Spink and Lewis Wilson are out for the Pitmedden side.

Alex Thoirs, Cameron Heslop, Lewis Crosbie, Joe Gauld and Isaac Evans are the Black and Golds’ absentees.

Brechin City welcome Deveronvale to Glebe Park. The Banffers have Aaron Hamilton back in contention but are missing Ben Allan, Jamie Tinnock and Scott Thomson.

Forres Mechanics will give fitness tests to Craig Mackenzie, Andrew Skinner and Tom Brady ahead of their Mosset Park encounter with Brora Rangers.

Lee Fraser and Lee Herbert are out for the Can-Cans with Colin Williamson, Max Ewan, Alex Cooper and Lewis Hyde missing for the Cattachs.

Rothes could hand debuts to Ross County loanees Rhys Fairley and Ruari Duncan when Clachnacuddin visit Mackessack Park. The Speysiders are still without Greg Morrison, Allen Mackenzie, Michael Finnis, Fraser Robertson, Ben Williamson and Duncan Proudfoot.

James Anderson, Robert Urquhart, Kieran Chalmers, Martin MacKinnon and Zach MacPhee are sidelined for the Lilywhites.

Michael Weir, Baylee Campbell, Ross Elliott, Henry Jordan and Fraser Forbes are out of Lossiemouth’s Grant Park clash with Buckie Thistle. Darryl McHardy and Kevin Fraser are absent for the Jags.

Captain Greg Mitchell is out for Inverurie Locos, who face Wick Academy at Harlaw Park. The Scorries travel without Jack Halliday, Richard Macadie, Conor Farquhar, Owen Harrold, Alan Hughes and James Mackay.

Paterson still committed to Strathspey

Owen Paterson is committed to trying to help Strathspey Thistle improve their position in the Breedon Highland League – even though he’ll be a Lossiemouth player next season.

The right-back, who can also play in midfield, has penned a pre-contract agreement with the Coasters for next term, which will see him link up with his brother Ross.

Strathspey are 13 points adrift at the foot of the table and face Keith at Seafield Park tomorrow afternoon (2pm kick-off).

Paterson, 25, said: “The results haven’t been the best for us, but I’ve enjoyed my time at Strathspey.

“I’m still committed to the club for the rest of the season and we want to pick up points and improve our position.

“It will be a tough ask to get off the bottom, but we have to try to win as many games as we can and see where it takes us.”

Reflecting on why he’s decided to join Lossie next season, Paterson added: “I know the boys and there’s a good set-up at the club.

“I’ve never really had a chance to play with my brother Ross so when Lossie showed an interest I thought ‘why not?’

“They’re trying to build things up with local boys and I just felt overall for me it was the right move.”

Keith are unbeaten in their last five games and boss Craig Ewen wants to maintain the momentum the Maroons have built up.

He said: “We need to try to build on what we’ve been doing. If we don’t get a result against Strathspey the decent run we’ve had will count for nothing.

“We’re seven points off what we got last season (27 points), if we can get a few more positive results hopefully we’ll manage to get past that.”

Turriff and Nairn look for return to winning ways

Turriff United and Nairn County meet at the Haughs in the Breedon Highland League with both determined to ensure their season doesn’t fizzle out.

United and the Wee County are both winless in their last four fixtures.

Having enjoyed fine campaigns, neither want to stumble in the closing stages, particularly when they remain in the running for sixth spot.

Nairn are seventh in the table with 45 points from 27 games, while Turra are five points and two places worse off having played a game fewer.

Huntly currently sit sixth with 46 points from 27 fixtures and Brora Rangers are eighth having amassed 43 points from 22 outings.

In midweek Nairn drew 1-1 with Keith with winger Horace Ormsby scoring.

The 28-year-old said: “The manager Steven Mackay is expecting a big performance and reaction from ourselves after Wednesday.

“We’ll do the best we can in the last seven games and see where we end up.

“There’s still a lot to play for and we need to try to finish strong.

“There’s been talk about ‘has the season fizzled out?’ And ‘are we going through the motions?’

“We want to prove that’s not the case, we’ll fight until the end and try to end up in the best possible position.”

Turriff manager Warren Cummings

Turriff were beaten 3-1 by Deveronvale in midweek and boss Warren Cummings added: “We were annoyed with our performance on Wednesday, we seemed to be lacking a bit of energy.

“Along with a few other teams I think sixth or seventh is there for us.

“We need to have some consistency in terms of results, if we do that then we can put a run together.

“Finishing sixth is certainly something we’re aspiring to and something we think we’re capable of doing.”

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