No Cup Glory For Thistle by Easton Thain

Victoria Park was buzzing last week with the announcement that the new management team would be Graeme ‘Spider’ Stewart as gaffer, Lewis MacKinnon as his assistant and legendary Stephen ‘Marra’ Bruce as coach, the former two, of course, had been interim bosses since November. There were high hopes that their regime would start off with a memorable League Cup win over Formartine United even though this would be a baptism of fire and a tough ask. Sadly the buzz disappeared as the Jags were dumped out of the competition and few could really argue about the result as the Pitmedden side always looked the more threatening and liable to take any chances that came their way. It has to be said that the Thistle contributed to their own downfall with some poor defending which United took full advantage of. On a day to forget Thistle and their faithful were also left puzzled by a number of decisions given against them in the game. However, no one can argue that the Pitmedden side were deserved winners in the end.

Prior to the game there was a minute’s applause in memory of honorary president Iain Clark who sadly passed away on January 23rd and this was heartily observed. Each side had a chance in the 3rd minute firstly the visitors when Stuart Anderson found ex-Jag Paul Napier whose drive hit off Chris Hegarty but Andy Burr made a fine save. Almost immediately at the other end the ball was fed through to Chris Angus but his low shot was held by Andy Shearer. From this point until the half hour it was United who took command of the game and they threatened to score on numerous occasions. In the 6th minute the ball was fed through to Cammy Keith but out came Andy Burr to make a grand blocking save. Three minutes on Marek Madle raced in on goal and shot past Andy Burr but Daren Wood was on hand to clear. 60 seconds later Woody was caught out by a ball over the top but recovered superbly to deny Marek Madle with a great tackle. In the 15th minute through Formrtine’s pressure paid off as they opened the scoring helped by poor defending. Not for the first time the right back area was exposed letting in Marek Madle and when he crossed Cammy Keith was given too much space and he simply will not miss given that opportunity and didn’t as he rammed the ball home. Six minutes later the ball was again laid off to Cammy Keith but this time Andy Burr pulled off a fine save. In the 25th minute though a keepers life was summed up when Cammy Keith fed Marek Madle whose low drive should have been gathered in by Andy Burr but the ball slid under him and into the net. Thistle desperately needed some sort of positive response and thankfully they got it in the 31st minute when Jay Cheyne sent a superb pass through the middle to Andy Low and as Andy Shearer advanced the striker chipped in a shot and although the keeper got a hand to the ball it went past him and rolled into the net. Two minutes on though the Jags had a massive escape thanks to an unbelievable call that left Formartine fizzing mad, a corner in was headed past Andy Burr and a good foot over the line before Jay Cheyne whacked it clear but no goal was awarded. Thistle had a chance in the 40th minute when Iain MacRae drove the ball in and Drew Copeland set up Andy Low but he delayed his shot and it was blocked away for a corner. Soon after a ball into the United box caused more panic and it fell to Chris Angus but he too saw his effort blocked. On half time Thistle had another escape when Marek Madle got free at a corner but headed the ball over.

Half-time Buckie Thistle 1 Formartine United 2

The odd set-piece to the Jags apart, play was pretty much bogged down for the first twenty minutes of the second half. Thistle had improved though and it looked as though this had come to fruition in the 65th minute when a ball in by Jay Cheyne was neatly headed on by Kevin Fraser and Chris Angus came from behind a defender to head home, total disbelief followed as the offside flag went up. Just to rub salt in the wound United added a third four minutes later when a free-kick found Marek Madle and his drive took a deflection and the ball flew home. An aggrieved Thistle nearly clawed another back 60 seconds later when a cross form Chris Angus was headed in by Drew Copeland but Andy Shearer turned this away. In the 72nd minute however the Jags efforts got them back into the game when a long ball in found Chris Angus who was felled in the box, no one is sure how the defender was not booked, and up stepped Chris Hegarty to dispatch the resultant penalty kick. Three minutes on though Thistle had another let off when Andy Burr should have easily grabbed a lofted ball in but he dropped it under pressure setting up a chance for Stuart Anderson who drilled it past the keeper only to see Iain MacRae clear off the line. With five minutes left the day was summed up when Chris Hegarty, already on a yellow, committed what appeared to be an innocuous foul but this was deemed worthy of a second yellow and that meant red. The final straw came in the 87th minute when the Jags defence dithered as a free-kick came in giving Graham Hay two goes at the ball and he took the second.

Full-time – Buckie Thistle 2 Formartine United 4

This was a sore one to take for the Jags and a wake up call for the new management team. It is clear that Thistle are a few players short of being a top 6 side right now so they need to cast their net wide to seek out the players they need to make that so. There were some positives on Saturday namely that chances were still being created whilst debut man Kevin Fraser showed some nice touches as did Drew Copeland. With no silverware left to play for ‘Spider’ and co have the chance to try out options and get out and find the quality needed and it is a task I am sure they will relish. Right now the priority is to sort things out on the park before the next game and this will have to be done if not then Fraserburgh are a side who could inflict some serious damage on Thistle, as could Turriff United in the game after that. The Jags have a massive psychological challenge to overcome against the Broch who have been the nemesis this season ending two trophy dreams so Thistle will have to believe they are as good as the Bellslea side to stand a chance of avenging bitter defeats. It will need a Jags side showing the verve of the games towards the end of 2014 to have a chance of getting a morale boosting victory but there is no doubt they have the quality to win this match and that would boost morale no end.

Match Photo’s Courtesy of Allan Robertson

Buckie Thistle – Burr, S Wood, MacRae, Hegarty, D Wood, Cheyne (S Gauld), Angus, Munro, Fraser, Low and Copeland (Baxter)

Formartine United – Shearer, McVitie (Dingwall), Smith, Jeffrey, Hay, Clark, Napier (McKay), Madle, Keith, Anderson and Bagshaw

Referee – C Sim

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