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Highland League: EVERY game previewed as Highland League Cup final between Brora Rangers and Fraserburgh takes top billing

A look ahead to the weekend's league and cup action.

Brora Rangers co-captain Jordan MacRae, left, and Fraserburgh skipper Willie West, right.
Brora Rangers co-captain Jordan MacRae, left, and Fraserburgh skipper Willie West, right.

Willie West could become the first player to win the GPH Builders Merchants Highland League Cup twice with Fraserburgh while Brora Rangers’ Jordan MacRae is aiming for a hat-trick of successes.

The Broch face the Cattachs in tomorrow’s final at Harlaw Park, Inverurie.

Fraserburgh have won the Highland League Cup in 1959 and 2006. Captain West played and scored in their last success and would like to repeat the feat.

For the 36-year-old, who has been on the losing side in the final of this competition in 2009, 2011 and 2018, victory this afternoon would make him the only player to have won it more than once with Fraserburgh.

West, who has lifted 13 trophies during his illustrious Broch career, said: “This cup in 2006 was my first trophy with the Broch.

“I remember Billy Gordon (former goalkeeper and Fraserburgh’s record appearance-maker) saying to me ‘this doesn’t happen every day.’

“He made the point that you could go through your career and not win any more trophies so to try to make the most of it.

“When I look back over the years from then to now I’ve been really happy with what’s transpired.

“It’s been a great journey I’ve had with Fraserburgh, but it would be great to win the cup again.

“We’ve got a few guys in our squad who haven’t won it and I don’t think there’s anyone who’s won it twice as a player with the Broch.

“That would be good to do. If we were to win the cup it makes it a good season and if we lose it then it probably makes it a bad season.

“We’re at Fraserburgh to compete at the top end of the league and win trophies and we’ll try our best to continue that.”

MacRae looks for another glory day

Meanwhile, Brora striker Jordan MacRae is eager to get his hands on the Highland League Cup again after triumphs with Cove Rangers in 2019 and his current club two years ago.

After a frustrating campaign for the Cattachs the 25-year-old believes winning a trophy is critical.

MacRae said: “I think the club needs to win something, it’s been a stop-start season for us with the games we’ve had off and the pitch issues at Dudgeon Park.

“To win the cup would give everyone around the club a real boost so hopefully we can do that.

Jordan MacRae, right, in action for Brora.

“If we don’t win a trophy the season will deemed a failure. In my time at Brora we’ve won something every season so I wouldn’t like to break that run.

“It would be nice to win the Highland League Cup again and there’s no better feeling than winning a trophy.

“We’d probably forget all the bad bits of this season, if we could win the cup it would be brilliant.”

Mutual respect between finalists

MacRae, who is Brora co-captain along with Dale Gillespie, believes to win they will need to improve on recent form.

The Sutherland side have lost three of their last seven league fixtures.

MacRae added: “You can say we’ve played a lot of games but ultimately we haven’t been good enough in them.

“Things haven’t quite been clicking, whereas at the start of the season they were.

“Hopefully with it being a cup final and a one-off game we can pick up and win it.

“We know what we get against Fraserburgh, it will be a very hard game. They’re probably the best in the league at battling and we’ll need to be a lot better than we have been in recent weeks.”

Fraserburgh’s West is well aware of Brora’s qualities and added: “We know it will be a really tough game.

“Brora have got some of the best players in the league in their team.

“They’ve got a history of winning trophies and winning cup finals so we know it will be difficult.

“They’ve got a lot of experience and a lot of quality that can hurt you.”

Both sides have some injury doubts, but Brora’s Max Ewan, Ali Morrison and Lewis Hyde are out, while Fraserburgh will be missing Ryan Cowie and Zane Laird.

Buckie’s Barry out to avoid slip-up

Max Barry wants Buckie Thistle to break their Saturday hoodoo against local rivals Deveronvale.

The Jags travel to Princess Royal Park tomorrow having lost three and drawn once in their last four Saturday fixtures stretching back to February 17.

Having beaten leaders Brechin City in midweek to reignite their Breedon Highland League title challenge, midfielder Barry is keen to ensure that good work isn’t undone by dropping points in their next outing.

The 22-year-old said: “We haven’t won on a Saturday since we beat Brechin at Glebe Park.

“Hopefully we can break that curse, we know it won’t be an easy game and it’s a derby.

Buckie’s Max Barry, centre.

“But if we don’t manage to win, it basically makes the good work we did on Wednesday a waste.”

Barry played through the pain in midweek, returning to the Buckie side, despite a thigh problem.

He added: “It was a bit niggly but it wasn’t going to stop me playing, especially in a game like Wednesday.

“If it’s sore you just push through it and give your best for the team.”

Although there’s plenty at stake for Buckie, interim Deveronvale boss Grant Noble insists the Banffers aren’t short of motivation either.

He said: “Myself and Graeme Watt (interim assistant manager) have a longstanding connection with the club and a lot of players have been here for a few years as well.

“We all know how big the game is to the club and the community so we’ll be up for it.

“We’ll try to take the positives forward from last week (3-3 draw with Lossiemouth), work hard, stick together as a team and see where that takes us.”

Brechin ‘need to be better’

Elsewhere, Fraser MacLeod has called on Brechin to bounce back quickly as they try to remain in control of their own destiny.

The defeat at Buckie has diminished the Hedgemen’s margin for at the top of the table.

Brechin face Wick Academy – who beat the Jags last weekend – at Harmsworth Park tomorrow (2pm kick-off), knowing if they win their last five games they will be champions.

Midfielder MacLeod, 22, said: “We know we need to win the rest of our games, but we also know we need to be an awful lot better than Wednesday night.

“If we play to the levels we’re capable of then we know we’ve got a decent chance.

“There were some harsh words after the Buckie game and rightly so. We all know ourselves it wasn’t good enough.

Brechin’s Fraser MacLeod.

“But we go again against Wick with a positive mindset and hopefully we can get the points.”

Wick haven’t lost at home since November 25, a run which includes a draw with Brora Rangers and wins against Formartine United and Buckie.

Scorries player-manager Gary Manson added: “There’s no reason why we can’t get a result, we’ve shown what we can do.

“In the last few months the top teams haven’t had it easy coming up to Wick.

“We’re looking to make sure that’s the case again and we’ll give it our best shot.”

Forres recruit Ferguson

Manager Steven MacDonald hopes new signing Cameron Ferguson can help Forres Mechanics have a good finish to the season.

The striker, who is son of Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager and former Dundee United, Rangers, Everton, Newcastle United and Scotland forward Duncan, has joined the Can-Cans for the remainder of the campaign.

Ferguson could make his debut tomorrow when Forres face Formartine United in the Breedon Highland League at Mosset Park.

The 21-year-old former Newcastle player was on loan at Forfar during the first half of the season and had been training with Caley Thistle.

But cross-border rules about playing for three clubs meant he was unable to sign for Championship side Inverness, but could join Forres.

Mechanics boss MacDonald is delighted with the addition.

He said: “We’ve got good strikers at the club, but we’ve been looking to add another one.

“Cameron’s size and physicality will hopefully help us, but at the same time we’re not expecting miracles.

“He’s still a young lad who’s progressing in the game, but he does have a lot of potential.

Cameron Ferguson has signed for Forres.

“We’ve only got five games left, but hopefully he enjoys it and can help the team.

“When he played against us he in a bounce game with Caley Thistle he was really good technically and he looks a good target man.

“He’s got a lovely left foot and hopefully he’ll give us a presence up front.

“It’s attracted some positive publicity for the club as well which is always good.

“A lot of people will be interested in Cameron’s career because of the career Duncan had.

“That maybe makes it harder in some ways for Cameron, but the impression I’ve had from my dealings with him is that he’s very dedicated to the game and trying to make his way.”

News from around the Highland League

Forres are missing Lee Fraser, Lee Herbert and Andrew Skinner for tomorrow’s game, while Formartine are without Johnny Crawford, Rhys Thomas, Daniel Park and Graeme Rodger.

Elsewhere, Keith will aim to make it 10 league games unbeaten when local rivals Huntly come to Kynoch Park.

Joey Wilson and Josh Buchan are out for the Maroons, while Ethan Smith is doubtful. Ruari Fraser, Cameron Heslop and Alex Thoirs are out for the Black and Golds, but Ryan Sewell returns.

Clachnacuddin are missing James Anderson and Martin MacKinnon for Banks o’ Dee’s visit to Grant Street Park. Jevan Anderson is out for the Aberdeen side.

Strathspey Thistle are aiming for three wins in a row when Nairn County arrive at Seafield Park.

Interim Jags manager Michael Rae welcomes back Jack Mackay and Owen Loveland, but Michael McKenzie and Iain Ross are out.

The Wee County are missing Ben Barron, Wayne Mackintosh, Ciaran Young, Matthew Strachan and Callum Maclean, but Ross Tokely returns.

Callan Gray and Adam Morrison are out for Turriff United, who face Lossiemouth at the Haughs. The Coasters are without Ryan Farquhar, Struan Fraser, Lewis McAndrew, Baylee Campbell, Ross Elliott and Henry Jordan.

Watch: Highland League Weekly EXTRA – Highlights of Buckie Thistle v Brechin City