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Highland League: Reaction from EVERY game as Banks o’ Dee defeat Formartine and Buckie slip up at Wick Academy

There were a few surprising results in this weekend's Breedon Highland League.

Banks o' Dee co-manager Josh Winton.
Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson
Banks o' Dee co-manager Josh Winton. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Banks o’ Dee ran out worthy winners at a blustery North Lodge Park on Saturday with a 4-1 victory against Formartine United.

Dee co-manager Josh Winton was delighted with his side’s commanding performance.

He said: “It was a good performance in which everyone played their part.

“We had some great individual performances and we were really good collectively.

“The first goal took a deflection but the ball can take a bit of a bobble on grass pitches at this stage of the season.

“We opted to play into the strong wind in the first half as we thought with them having played on Wednesday we might just have the edge. We were a little bit fresher with the wind in our favour in the second half.”

Banks o’ Dee opened the scoring in the 21st minute when Mark Gilmour’s low drive from the edge of the box took a wicked deflection off a United defender and went in off the base of the post.

In the 39th minute former United striker Garry Wood came back to haunt his old club with a neat turn and clinical eight-yard finish to make it 2-0.

United keeper Ewen Macdonald, who injured himself attempting to close down his former team-mate, failed to return after the break and former Montrose youngster Cameron Middleton took over between the sticks.

Banks o’ Dee made it 3-0 in the 56th minute when Lachie Macleod set up Hamish Macleod for a simple tap-in.

United pulled one back in the 73rd minute when a long throw-in arrived at Julian Wade’s feet and he made no mistake from six yards.

Aaron Reid then prodded the ball home from close-range but in the build-up the ball had struck the arm of stand-side assistant Douglas Tucker as play raged on.

There was much consternation among the home fans when referee Lewis Brown brought play back to almost the halfway line for a bounce-ball.

Dee rubbed salt in United’s wounds nine minutes from time when substitute Ethan Cairns hammered home a fourth goal.

Formartine manager Stuart Anderson said: “I don’t think there was much in it in the first half but that first goal took a wicked deflection and we needed to defend their second goal better.

“I think they did manage the conditions better – it was horrific.

“They went in 2-0 up at the break but in the second half I can’t fault the boys’ application.”

Wick Academy 3-1 Buckie Thistle

A double from Marc MacGregor helped Wick Academy defeat Buckie at a wind-swept Harmsworth Park, putting a big dent in their title hopes in the process.

MacGregor put the home side ahead early on, then Kyle Henderson scored number two direct from a corner.

MacGregor put the game beyond Jags with his second five minutes from time, with Jack Murray grabbing a mere consolation two minutes later.

Wick player-manager Gary Manson said: “I thought we handled the windy conditions really well and the expected onslaught never arrived in the second half.

“We knew we had players who could hurt them on the break and that’s how it turned out.

“If you could write a script for a home game against Buckie, then that would be it. I’m really happy with the win.”

Buckie manager Graeme Stewart said: “I thought we actually played quite well in the first half but we didn’t take our chances and conceded two poor goals.

“We dominated the first half and had always planned to make the changes at half time, that was no slant on Andrew MacAskill and Dale Wood, who both played well.

“I felt like we needed the boost of energy for the second half.”

Lossiemouth 3-3 Deveronvale

Lossiemouth denied Deveronvale the chance of completing a league double over them this season as the home side struck twice in injury time to earn a share of the points.

Jack Mitchell had put the visitors ahead in the 13th minute with a close range finish but Lossie levelled just before the half hour mark when Brandon Hutcheson scored from six yards.

Playing against his old club, Harry Noble curled home a free kick from wide on the right to restore Vale’s lead two minutes before the break before Max Stewart netted a ten yard volley after 71 minutes following delightful play from Mitchell on the right to leave Vale in charge.

Dean Stewart powered home an eight yard header as the game moved into injury time before substitute Connor Macaulay grabbed an unlikely equaliser four minutes later with a 25-yard strike to earn his team a point.

Deveronvale interim manager Grant Noble said: “It was a tough result to take, especially as I couldn’t see Lossie scoring after we had got ourselves two goals ahead.

“It comes down to game management which we didn’t carry out.

“Our goalkeeper Sean McIntosh said losing the third goal was an uncharacteristic mistake from him but the amount of saves he has produced over the season we can’t grumble.

“After the week the lads have had I thought they were fantastic and played some really good football on a difficult pitch.

“We just have to move on and take the positives from the game.”

Lossiemouth manager Frank McGettrick praised his players for keeping going right to the final whistle.

He said “We threw caution to the wind late on, pushing more players forward and probably a share of the points was just about the right result.

“We have now equalled the same amount of points we gained last season so hopefully we can go on and beat it in our remaining three games but we will need to do better to achieve that.”

Fraserburgh 5-0 Rothes

Fraserburgh warmed up for the Highland League Cup final with a convincing 5-0 victory over Rothes.

First half strikes from Logan Watt and Scott Barbour were added to after the break by Watt again, Ryan Sargent and Callum Kelly in a dominating display which delighted Broch manager Mark Cowie.

He said: “It took us a while to get going and in the first 30 minutes we weren’t quite at it but in the last 15 minutes of the first half we probed more and created three or four good chances.

“At 2-0, going into the second half against the wind, you’re thinking if they get one back it could be an interesting game but we passed the ball well, opened them up and were clinical in our finishing.

“I still think we could be more clinical as we had five or six other chances we should be taking.

“It was equally pleasing we got a clean sheet at the other end and nullified any attacking threat from Rothes.”

Rothes boss Richard Hastings said: “They played the conditions better than we did and were really on song today but I think we made it easy for them.

“Defensively we should have done better, you can’t gift goals to a side like them, but credit to Fraserburgh they finished the chances off well and our goalkeeper has also made some good saves.

“We could have looked after the ball better and we made it very easy for them to pick up the ball again and create chances.”

Huntly 1-0 Brora Rangers

A solitary Robbie Foster goal saw Huntly record their first win over Brora Rangers since August 2017.

Huntly manager Colin Charlesworth, who side are now unbeaten at home in six games, said: “They’re a good team and we knew we had to compete with them but not only did we compete with them we went right at it ourselves.

“The first half we matched them, it was a good game with both teams attacking and we got our noses in front.

“The second half was more about keeping a tight shape and being hard to beat and that’s as solid as we’ve been all season with the players fighting and scrapping for everything.”

Foster struck with his 15th goal of the season as Charlesworth highlighted the important part the winger has played this season.

He added: “He’s gambled and late runs into the box is where he’s dangerous. He’s having a good season and we’ve got a cracking three points.”

Brora went into the match 11 league games unbeaten away from home with player-manager Ally MacDonald disappointed not to take something from the game.

He said: “It was a frustrating result, we probably deserved to get something from the game.

“We switched off which let them in on goal following a free kick but aside from that our application to get something was there and we maybe lacked that wee bit of quality.”

Inverurie Locos 1-2 Keith

Keith extended their unbeaten Breedon Highland League run to nine games with a 2-1 win against Inverurie Locos at Harlaw Park.

It’s the Maroons’ first triumph against the Railwaymen for eight years and their longest run without defeat in 16 years.

Keith goalkeeper Craig Reid, whose last minute overhead kick earned a draw at Huntly in midweek, saved a penalty and was central to this win which earned him praise from manager Craig Ewen.

He said: “Craig has made a penalty save and some great first half saves to cap a great week.

“We have a lot of belief just now and we were excellent in the first half.

“We grabbed a couple of good goals including a very early one and we forced Locos to change formation and that doesn’t happen too often.

Keith manager Craig Ewen.

“Going into the second half you ideally want to score the next goal to try and feel safer. Despite Locos getting the goal back we saw the game out well.

“There were some unbelievable performances from our players, four or five were really outstanding.

“I’m delighted with the three points which maintains forward momentum towards the end of the season with six games remaining.

“The rub of the green evens out over the season, earlier in the campaign, we were losing games by a goal now we are winning them by a goal.

“None of the wins are comfortable but I’m delighted for our players. They work hard and give us everything.”

Elphinstone quick off the mark

Gavin Elphinstone headed home a corner from the right on two minutes and made it 2-0 with a great run and finish in the 26th minute.

Locos had a route back into the game two minutes after the restart when substitute Blair Smith was upended in the box but Reid dived to his right to save the penalty from Paul Coutts.

Myles Gaffney on the rebound did reduce the leeway on the hour but that was to be the end of the scoring. Inverurie’s Thomas Reid was sent off late in the game after an altercation with newly introduced substitute Liam Duncan.

Gavin Elphinstone scored both goals for Keith against Inverurie.

Locos boss Dean Donaldson said: “None of our top players played well on the day. Everything that could go against us went against us.

“We are better than what we showed, but players get complacent. That’s why we are where we are in the table.

“The celebrations from the Keith tell you we are a top team but we are not a top team. Fair play to Keith they’ve done well.”

Strathspey Thistle 2-1 Clachnacuddin

Interim manager Michael Rae has guided Strathspey Thistle to back-to-back wins and revealed talks have been held about him taking the job on a permanent basis.

The Grantown Jags defeated Clachnacuddin 2-1 at Seafield Park to follow up their victory against Deveronvale.

Rae has been in temporary charge since the resignation of Robert MacCormack earlier this month and is tempted by the possibility of continuing long-term.

He said: “I have been asked about it and it has been discussed.

Michael Rae, second from the right, is Strathspey’s interim manager

“No decision has been reached yet, there are a few things to be sorted out and right now I don’t know.

“I’d love to be a Highland League manager one day, but with the commitment it takes I’ve generally been happy being an assistant manager or coach.

“Do I believe I could do it? Yes, but there are other commitments and I haven’t decided one way or the other yet.”

Jags close the gap

After beating Clach, Strathspey are seven points behind the Lilywhites at the foot of the Breedon Highland League.

Rae added: “The players deserve credit because they haven’t stopped. They battled for 90 minutes last week and they did the same again this week and got their rewards.

“Our game against Nairn on Saturday is a big one, if we could win that and get within four points of Clach we could maybe look at catching them.

“But we’re just looking to get as many points as we can and we’ll see what happens.”

Lewis Mackenzie hit the crossbar for Clach before Strathspey took the lead when James McShane’s diagonal pass released Iain Ross to score.

In the second half the Lilywhites levelled when Alan Kerr felled Troy Cooper inside the box and Connor Bunce converted from the spot.

Ten minutes from time Strathspey won it when Daniel Whitehorn found space on the edge of the box and produced a good low finish.

Clach player-manager Conor Gethins said: “We were shocking from start to finish, we showed very little game intelligence and Strathspey were well worth their win.

“I don’t know if our boys thought they’d turn up and beat Strathspey, but if you don’t work hard then you’ll get punished and we did.”

Forres Mechanics 0-0 Nairn County

Forres Mechanics and Nairn County drew a blank in an evenly contested local derby at Mosset Park.

The Can-Cans created the better chances throughout but the game lacked quality in the final third at both ends of the park.

Forres manager, Steven MacDonald said: “We probably had the three best chances of the game. Two in the first half and one at the end which just went wide.

“That’s three big chances in what was not a great game of football. We need to be a bit more ruthless.

Forres Mechanics manager Steven MacDonald. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.
Forres Mechanics manager Steven MacDonald,

“The boys gave everything they’ve got, which they have being doing recently. You can’t ask more than that.

“We were low on attacking options off the bench but I was pleased to get a clean sheet.

“Sometimes this season we’ve had the better chances and end up losing a goal late.

“Nairn were throwing things at us late on with corners and set pieces so I’m pleased we stood up to that.”

‘I would ask for my money back’

Nairn player-boss Steven Mackay added: “It was a poor game, it had 0-0 written all over it.

“I’m frustrated because it had that end of season feel about it, which I hate.

“It frustrates me. We have three games left and I just hate the thought of the season fizzling out.

“It felt like the team were looking forward to their summer holidays, which is not acceptable.

“Fans pay money to come and watch that game. If I was one I would ask for my money back, it just lacked quality throughout. A draw was absolutely the fair result.”

Mechanics should have gone ahead in the 14th minute when Shaun Morrison evaded his marker inside the box only for Nairn keeper Dylan MacLean to get something on his shot to send it wide.

Mechanics’ Calum Frame had a clear sight of goal three minutes later but he shot weakly at MacLean.

Aaron Nicolson came close for Nairn in the 57th minute with a glancing header which just cleared Corey Patterson’s right hand post.

The home side who came closest to a winner in the 86th minute when Can-Cans’ skipper Craig MacKenzie fired inches past MacLean’s left hand post following a Taylor Thain corner.

Gavin Price not getting carried away despite Brechin City being in strong position in pursuit of Highland League title