Three Points Is Three Points by Easton Thain

Sometimes in the game of football you have to ‘win ugly’ and that was the case against Rothes where the Jags never got to the standard of recent victories but did enough to secure all three points to make it four wins in a row in the Highland League and four wins out of five games under Graeme Stewart and Lewis MacKinnon. In many ways playing the Speysiders was a trickier task than facing the likes of Nairn County as Thistle are expected to better the ‘lesser’ sides but for more years than they’d care to mention they seem to find such sides harder to beat and that was the case in this latest clash with the men from MacKessack Park. All credit to Rothes for making a real fist of it and that was the least their new manager, ex-Jags coach Paul Lamberton, wanted from his new charges, he got that and more and if they had had more firepower and a bit of luck they may have emerged from the game with a point. Thistle suffered a lot of frustration in the game and never really got going until shortly into the second half when they were reduced to ten men and that seemed to kick start them into action and Rothes rarely threatened after that. The Jags play markedly improved in the second half with Scott Adams in particular leading the visiting defence a merry dance, only a great save late on denied him a goal to cap off his performance. The young winger was one of the better Thistle players on the day with man of the match Chris Hegarty standing out at the back where he used his experience and nous to the full notably in the second half. He was calm under pressure and also sprayed some great passes about the park. Drew Copeland also caught the eye when he came on for the second half and he came close to scoring.

The Jags started on the offensive and created four chances in the first 20 minutes but all suffered a similar fate. In the 3rd minute Liam Baxter set up Andy Low but he fired his final effort wide. Three minutes later a poor clearance was seized upon by Chris Angus but he also contrived to shoot wide. In the 13th minute Donnie Munro set up Andy Low but this time he fired over the bar. Five minutes later a throw in found Scott Adams who crossed to Liam Baxter who controlled the ball well but then he blasted his shot wide. Soon after he was booked for throwing the ball into the ground in disgust and this would have serious repercussions, just one of the silly bookings that rile managers. In the 26th minute Donnie Munro played a superb pass through to Chris Angus who delivered in a fine cross but this was turned behind by a defender for a fruitless corner. A minute later Rothes had a golden chance at the other end when Donnie Munro conceded possession and the ball was fed through to Nathan Wilson but with Andy Burr advancing the No 10 shot wide. Another chance fell to Thistle in the 33rd minute when a corner was played out to Shaun Carrol who teed the ball up but then blasted it over the bar. Five minutes before half-time the Jags missed a glorious chance to take the lead when Shaun Carrol delivered a wicked cross into the box and the ball fell into the path of Chris Angus but from close range he blazed it over the bar. Thankfully two minutes later Thistle took the lead with an excellent goal, Andy Low fed Shaun Wood who delivered a swinging high cross into the box causing panic in the defence and when the ball hit the ground Chris Angus was on it in a flash to smash it home for his tenth goal of the season.

Half-time Buckie Thistle 1 Rothes 0

There was an astonishing start to the second half as, seconds after blowing the whistle for Rothes to kick-off, the referee blew it again and promptly showed Liam Baxter a yellow card and, as he had been booked before, that meant red and he was off. The whistler later stated that it was for a deliberate trip. Suddenly all the plans for the second 45 were up in smoke and the Jags had to change their game plan to having more defence in mind. Whilst they were still reorganising the Speysiders nearly drew level in the 48th minute when a ball in was only half cleared and fell to Struan MacArthur who blasted it goal-wards only to see Andy Burr pull off an excellent save. The midfield man was lucky to still be there to make that shot as in the first half he had committed a naughty tackle on Donnie Munro but only saw yellow. That chance for Rothes apart they never really got a sniff of goal after that as Thistle solidified at the back and decided attack was the best form of defence. In the 56th minute Scott Adams sent a superb ball into the box which Chris Angus cleverly nodded back across the goal but there were not takers. Five minutes later great play saw Drew Copeland exchange passed with Chris Angus before he homed in on goal and fired in a drive which flew narrowly over. A quiet spell followed which Thistle more or less controlled but then, with twelve minutes left, it seemed to be game over when ‘Zico’ Davidson met a corner and headed the ball home, or so it seemed, as the goal was disallowed, no one know quite why this was the case. Thankfully the visitors never had the chance to take full advantage of their let off and, indeed, they had to thank Ricky Horne for not conceding a second. With three minutes left Scott Adams set off on another of his mazy runs that left defenders trailing and he then fired in a vicious swerving shot only to see the keeper pull off a superb stop. From that point on the Jags eased home to a hard-earned win.

Full-time Buckie Thistle 1 Rothes 0

It was far from pretty but three points are three points and that was the be all and end all! The stand in player-coach combine though have to work out some way of getting it into the players that facing a Rothes is just as hard as facing a Nairn and they have to maintain the high standard set in every game not just against a top side. With no disrespect intended to Rothes or other ‘lesser’ sides the Jags have better quality players but that will only shine through if they play to their full abilities which they didn’t in this latest game. However, there were still plenty of positives such as solid defending marshalled by Chris Hegarty and some fine attacking play at times notably from Scott Adams. Weather permitting the next task is again against a ‘lesser’ side as Thistle are due to face the Jags of Strathspey at Grantown though if the wintry weather prevails there seems little chance of it going ahead. If it does then Thistle could find it just as hard going as they did against Rothes and lest we forget in the first meeting of the season the Grantown gang held the Jags to a draw at Victoria Park and could have won the game to boot so nothing can be taken for granted. Thistle struggled up there last season but eventually won and it is a case of getting three points and getting out of there, if good football can be played in the process all the better if not as long as the win is obtained few can complain!

Match Photo’s courtesy of Allan Robertson

Buckie Thistle – Burr, S Wood, Carrol (D Wood), Munro (Copeland), MacRae, Hegarty, Angus, Davidson, Baxter, Low (MacMillan) and Adams

Rothes – Horne, Lamberton, Corbett, MacArthur, Horsburgh, Dunn, Mair, Mitchell, McIntosh, Wilson (Rodrigues) and Winton (Ewen)

Referee – A Cooper

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