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Highland League reports: Buckie Thistle remain in title hunt after beating Brora Rangers; Inverurie Locos and Formartine United win

We round-up Wednesday's Highland League action.

Josh Peters, right, celebrates scoring for Buckie Thistle against Brora Rangers with team-mates Jack MacIver, left, and Andrew MacAskill. Pictures by Jasperimage.
Josh Peters, right, celebrates scoring for Buckie Thistle against Brora Rangers with team-mates Jack MacIver, left, and Andrew MacAskill. Pictures by Jasperimage.

Boss Graeme Stewart hailed Buckie Thistle for passing another test of their title mettle.

The Jags defeated Brora Rangers 2-0 at Grant Park in Lossiemouth to move just three points behind Breedon Highland League leaders Brechin City with a game in hand.

The Hedgemen are nine goals better off on goal difference. Second-placed Fraserburgh are on the same points as Buckie and two ahead on goal difference having played a game more.

Stewart said: “We played very well, it’s up there with the best we’ve played this season.

“Getting a clean sheet against Brora is outstanding given how dangerous they are.

“If I’m nit-picking we could probably score two or three more goals because we had four or five good chances.

“That’s the only negative, but it was an outstanding performance. I’m delighted to win because it was a massive game for us.”

Venue change

With Victoria Park waterlogged the fixture was moved to Lossie’s Grant Park to ensure it could go ahead.

Stewart added: “I’ve got to thank Lossie a lot for allowing us to play here. It shows the Highland League spirit with clubs looking after each other.

“I’d like to think we’d do the same, the game needed to be on because the league needs to be finished.

“We thought we might not get a game or it might be Thursday so I’m really thankful to Lossiemouth and delighted with what they’ve done for us.”

Corner routine brings opener

Buckie broke the deadlock in the 24th minute. Jack MacIver played a short corner to Max Barry on the left and his deflected cross was finished by Josh Peters from close range.

A minute later Lyall Keir released Peters inside the box, but goalkeeper Logan Ross made a superb save down to his left.

Peters was denied again by Ross from Andrew MacAskill’s feed before the break and blazed over at the start of the second period with a clear sight of goal.

Josh Peters, left, scores for Buckie against Brora.

Ross produced two more good saves to foil MacIver and Peters again, while Brora threatened sporadically.

Ali Sutherland scooped a shot over from 15 yards, Alex Cooper failed to hit target with a free-kick from the edge of the area and Martin Maclean fired straight at goalkeeper Tom Ritchie from a decent position.

On 81 minutes the contest was settled when Mark Nicolson was penalised for pulling down Jack Murray at a free-kick. Murray stroked the resultant penalty into the left corner for his 20th goal of the season.

Frustration for MacDonald

Brora player-manager Ally MacDonald said: “Between the two boxes there wasn’t much between the sides.

“They scored a soft goal from our point of view at a set piece where we could do better.

“We’ll need to see the penalty back to see if it was a penalty or not.

“We’ve been giving away soft goals at one end and haven’t been as creative as we’d like to be at the other end.

“There was a big moment where Jack Murray volleyed the ball off one of our players in the second half after a free-kick has been given.

Brora goalkeeper Logan Ross is beaten by Jack Murray’s penalty.

“It’s a yellow card offence, Dale Gillespie reacted, and rightly so with what happened, and his was a yellow card as well.

“But it’s disappointing because it feels like Duncan (Nicolson, referee) saw Jack Murray was already on a yellow card and didn’t want to make the decision to send him off.

“It’s a big moment with the time left at 1-0 if Buckie go down to 10 men there was a serious chance for us to put on pressure.”

Inverurie Locos triumph in six-goal battle with Clachnacuddin

Inverurie Locos secured a hard-earned 4-2 victory at Clachnacuddin to bolster their place in 10th spot in the Highland League.

Goals from Sam Burnett and Logan Johnstone put Locos in control inside the first 20 minutes, but an unfortunate own goal from Greg Mitchell offered the Lilies hope before half-time.

Calum Dingwall scored straight from a corner to extend Locos’ lead in the second half, though, before Aly Riddle bagged a second goal for the hosts.

Inverurie Locos midfielder Calum Dingwall
Inverurie Locos midfielder Calum Dingwall. Image: DC Thomson.

Jay Halliday’s curling effort put the contest to bed for Locos, despite the Inverness team giving it their best shot until the final whistle.

The second-bottom Merkinchers went into the encounter having stunned Banks o’ Dee 1-0 in their last game on March 30.

After defeats against Keith and Deveronvale, 10th-placed Locos were keen to return to winning ways.

Good start

Clach, who have only won four league matches this season, began brightly and Connor Bunce drew a fine diving save from Zack Ellis after an impressive surging run up the park.

However, the Railwaymen went ahead on eight minutes when Burnett supplied a neat finish in the box after meeting a delivery from Aidan Wilson.

The breakthrough boosted the visitors as they knocked the ball around with confidence.

It was no surprise it was 2-0 in the 20th minute when wide midfielder Johnstone crashed a low drive past Michael Miele at the Clean Sweep Enclosure End.

Clach gradually came back into the contest and their efforts were rewarded six minutes before the break as a free-kick whipped into the area deflected off Mitchell to halve the deficit.

The downpours picked up in intensity, so the players had to watch their footing and distribution in tricky conditions.

Clach were gutted to fall 3-1 behind when, directly from a corner on 62 minutes, Dingwall’s set-piece crossed the line at the far post.

However, the Lilywhites bounced back once more, and Riddle was on hand to stab the ball into the net to tee up an interesting ending.

Inverurie ensured there would be no dropped points when Halliday collected the ball on the right side of the box and swerved a superb shot beyond Miele’s reach.

The teams meet again this Saturday at Harlaw Park in what will be both clubs’ penultimate fixture of the campaign.

Two late goals see Formartine beat Wick 3-1

Formartine United's Paul Campbell. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.
Formartine United’s Paul Campbell. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

Two goals in the last 10 minutes from Paul Campbell and Kevin Hanratty were enough to give Formartine United a 3-1 win in an entertaining Highland League match against Wick Academy at North Lodge Park.

Formartine made the perfect start when Wick goalie Graeme Williamson’s clearance landed straight at Marc Lawrence, who curled the ball into an empty net from 35 yards on three minutes.

Kyle Henderson went close twice for the visitors, and Aaron Reid fired straight at the Wick keeper when clean through, before Gary Pullen levelled for the Scorries – heading home Henderson’s cross after 28 minutes.

Formartine’s Lawrence saw a header from Reid’s flick-on drift just over the crossbar and Marc McGregor also headed over for Wick just before the break.

On the hour, Pullen stung the hands of Cameron Middleton, and at the other end, Formartine subs Graeme Rodger and Scott Lisle combined with the latter shooting just wide.

Wick’s Henderson forced Middleton into a fingertip save with a curling 20-yard effort midway through the second half, then United’s Campbell inexplicably headed over from close range before seeing another header tipped on to the crossbar by Williamson.

Formartine forward Campbell finally found the net with 10 minutes remaining when he rifled the ball home from just inside the penalty area.

Two minutes later, Hanratty added to Formartine’s advantage when he collected Lisle’s pass before firing home from 22 yards.

  • Keith v Brechin City was postponed due to Kynoch Park being waterlogged.