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Highland League: EVERY game previewed as Brechin City face Turriff United with Grady McGrath focused on title bid rather than future

We look ahead to Saturday's Breedon Highland League action

Grady McGrath in action for Brechin
Brechin's Grady McGrath is ready to face Turriff United in the Highland League.

Grady McGrath wants to play a key part in Brechin City’s title bid and insists no decision has been made about his future.

The Hedgemen, who are top of the Breedon Highland League, face Turriff United at Glebe Park tomorrow afternoon.

Last weekend McGrath made just his second start since mid-January and notched his 31st goal of the campaign.

With his contract up in the summer there has been speculation that he will leave Brechin.

But the 21-year-old, who was last season’s Highland League player of the year, said: “I’ve not decided anything when it comes to the future.

“My focus is fully on Brechin and trying to win the league.

“It was good to start last weekend. I’ve been disappointed not to have had more chances, but the manager picks the team and I just need to do what I can when I’m on the pitch.

“Hopefully I can stay in the team during the run-in. I’ve shown I can score goals and it’s just up to me to try to keep doing that when I’m on the pitch.”

With seven games to go Brechin’s destiny is in their own hands, if they win all their games they will be champions.

McGrath added: “It’s good knowing what we need to do. We know what we’re capable of and if we can put in good performances I’m sure we’ll manage to keep getting the results we need.”

Meanwhile, Turriff manager Warren Cummings is relishing the task of trying to cause an upset.

Turriff boss Warren Cummings.

With Turra ninth in the table he knows there won’t be many observers backing his side to triumph.

Cummings said: “We’re under no illusions about the task we face, but it’s a game we’re really looking forward to.

“It’s a game where I don’t think many people will fancy us to get a result – but we do.

“We feel we can go there and make an impact and that’s what we’ll be trying to do.

“Since we last played Brechin in November we’ve been competitive against top six teams even though we haven’t always been on the right side of the result.

“That’s something we take a bit of confidence from.”

News from around the Highland League

Elsewhere, Lewis Davidson returns for Fraserburgh, who are again set to be missing Ryan Cowie, Ross Aitken, Josh Bolton and Zane Laird for Rothes’ visit to Bellslea.

The Speysiders are without Greg Morrison, Fraser Robertson, Michael Finnis, Allen Mackenzie, Ben Johnstone, Liam Shewan, Callum Cruickshank and Owen Alexander. Rothes have also transfer-listed midfielder Alan Pollock, the 34-year-old has been at Mackessack Park since November 2018 and is out of contract this summer.

Forres Mechanics face Nairn County in a local derby at Mosset Park. Lee Fraser and Lee Herbert are out for the Can-Cans with loanees Sam Gordon and Ben Kelly unable to face their parent club.

The Wee County welcome back Ben Barron, Callum Maclean, Angus Dey and Kenny Mackenzie, but are without Ross Tokely, Wayne Mackintosh and Horace Orsmby.

It’s seventh v sixth at Christie Park as Huntly tackle Brora Rangers. The Black and Golds are likely to be along similar lines to their midweek draw with Keith.

The Cattachs will hope Ali Morrison has shaken off a knock sustained in midweek, while Max Ewan, Mark Nicolson and Lewis Hyde are absent.

Paul Coutts returns for Inverurie Locos’ meeting with Keith at Harlaw Park. Greg Mitchell is also in contention for the Railwaymen, but Josh Buchan, who has been on-loan to the Maroons is injured. Joey Wilson is also out for Keith.

Interim manager Grant Noble takes charge of Deveronvale for the first time when they play Lossiemouth at Grant Park. Lewis McAndrew, Henry Jordan, Fraser Forbes, Ross Elliott and Baylee Campbell are out for the Coasters.

Strathspey Thistle interim manager Michael Rae is set to draft in some trialists for their Seafield Park encounter with Clachnacuddin.

Long-term absentees James Anderson and Martin MacKinnon are missing for the Lilywhites.

Keir pleased to contribute as Jags head for Wick

Lyall Keir is grateful to be playing his part in Buckie Thistle’s Breedon Highland League title challenge.

The Jags tackle Wick Academy at Harmsworth Park tomorrow after defeating Formartine United in midweek courtesy of Keir’s brace.

During the last couple of months the 20-year-old attacker has been a regular fixture in the Buckie side and has now bagged nine goals.

Keir said: “I didn’t play as much in the first half of the season and I’m really happy to be playing more now.

“Scoring goals is good and that’s what I’m in there to do. I’m getting the opportunities now which is great.

Buckie’s Lyall Keir.

“It will be another tough game against Wick, but hopefully we can go again and win it.

“They’re all must-wins when you get to this stage of the season, hopefully we can do it.”

Meanwhile, Wick player-manager Gary Manson says his side have nothing to lose.

However, he is keen for the Scorries to try to protect an unbeaten run at Harmsworth Park which stretches back to November.

Academy could have a major say in who wins the league, with Brechin City also visiting Caithness next weekend.

Manson added: “We know there will be times in the game when we’re up against it, but I’m pretty sure we can cause Buckie problems as well.

“All the pressure is on Buckie because they’re going for the title and they’re having to play every midweek as well which is tough.

“We’ve got nothing to lose, we haven’t lost at Harmsworth Park since November 25 and we’ll give it our best shot.

“We certainly could have a say in how things pan out. But we’re not really thinking about that, we’re just trying to win for ourselves.”

United and Dee won’t let season fizzle out

Formartine United and Banks o’ Dee are targeting a strong end to the Breedon Highland League season rather than thinking about what might have been.

It’s fifth v third at North Lodge Park tomorrow with both sides’ hopes of challenging for the title having diminished in recent weeks.

United are 10 points behind leaders Brechin City having played the same number of games, while Dee are four points off the summit having played two matches more.

Formartine midfielder Marc Lawrence, 25, said: “You can say ‘what if?’ and look back, but there are lots of variables.

Formartine’s Marc Lawrence.

“We have been frustrated with some of the points we’ve dropped this season, but we just have to learn from it and move forward.

“I don’t like looking back on where we dropped points and what could have been because there are always other games coming up.

“There’s good character in the group and after losing against Buckie on Wednesday we’re ready to go again against a good Banks o’ Dee team.

“These are the sort of games you want to play in.”

Dee defender Jevan Anderson, 24, added: “For us we just focus on the games we’ve got remaining. There was talk from outside about us going for the league before the games against Fraserburgh and Buckie.

“Those results didn’t go as we wanted (both defeats), but the season doesn’t peter out for us, we’ve got a lot of big games to play.

“You always want to try to finish as high as possible and show there’s been progression again this season.

“We want to do ourselves justice when it comes to our finishing position, it has been a good season again for the club.”

Watch: Highland League Weekly EXTRA – Highlights of Buckie Thistle v Formartine United