A STUNNING opener by Shaun Carrol was the highlight of Buckie Thistle’s 3-1 win over Inverurie Locos as the Jags again moved six points clear at the top of the Highland League.
Carrol was pressed into an unfamiliar midfield role and he revelled in the new challenge, blasting a 25-yard effort beyond Locos keeper Scott Mathieson in the 32nd minute.
Buckie could have been further ahead before the break but John McLeod hit the post with a shot and Mathieson made some good saves to deny the home side.
However, they also had a massive let-off when Daniel Bell produced a great save to parry a Jordan Leyden shot and when the ball spun to Locos skipper Neil McLean he blasted the ball against the underside of the bar from close range.
Buckie gave themselves a cushion just four minutes into the second half when Sam Urquhart tried to play in McLeod and when Daniel Crisp tried to intercept the pass the ball flew off his foot and into his own net.
Locos missed a great chance to get back into the match when Leyden was clear on goal midway through the half but he was wasteful and blasted high over the bar.
He did a better job in the 74th minute when McLean robbed Lewis Mackinnon in midfield and put the striker through and he fired past Bell, despite a valiant effort on the line by Craig Dorrat to clear the ball.
That signalled a few jittery moments for Buckie as Locos looked for an equaliser, although the closest they came to a goal was when Dean Donaldson blasted wide after latching on to a poor kick out by Bell.
Buckie wrapped up the points in added time when Sam Urquhart robbed Locos defender Ross Anderson in his own penalty box and despatched the ball beyond Mathieson.
With Brora’s 2-0 defeat at Fraserburgh, Buckie are firmly in the driving seat and the pair meet in Sutherland this Saturday.
Cove Rangers remain in the hunt to defend their title after a 6-0 win over Fort William at Grant Park, Lossiemouth, left them seven points behind Buckie, but the Aberdeen side have a game in hand.
Buckie: Bell, Munro, Cheyne (Taylor 77), Dorrat, Mackinnon, McLean, Fraser, Carrol (Maitlan 90+2), McLeod, Angus (Copeland 63), Urquhart. Not used: Wood, Strong.