Jags Lead Can-Cans On A Merry Dance by Easton Thain
After the physically and mentally draining defeat at Fraserburgh in the Aberdeenshire Shield the last thing the Jags probably needed was to be facing a physically powerful Forres Mechanics at Victoria Park and the Can-Cans arrived full of belief that they would complete the double over Thistle having hammered them at Mosset Park earlier in the season. The Jags, though, had other ideas and the rejuvenated side that had won at Inverness in their last league game reappeared against Forres and at times Thistle led the Can-Cans a merry dance with their ‘carpet’ football. Make no mistake this was a thoroughly merited victory and all credit to ‘Spider’ Stewart and Lewis MacKinnon for getting the tactics spot on for their ethos of playing the ball low when possible was the perfect way to play against the Mechanics ‘giants’ and at times the Jags had the opponents defence running around in circles. But for a superb display in the Can-Cans goal by Mark Bowden Thistle would have ran up a bigger winning margin as they sliced through the Forres defence quite a number of times only to be denied by the goalie. Once again to a man the players put in a great shift with every department running smoothly and it was great to see Andy Burr get another clean sheet. He was rarely troubled but did pull off a couple of fine saves. Chris Angus won the man of the match award and he stood out on his return to the team but Neil Davidson also did well after being thrown straight back into the side after being offshore. The only downer was the dismissal of skipper Lewis MacKinnon late on for a second yellow. All told a very good afternoon for the Jags and more displays like this will take them up the table.
It was the Can-Cans who had the first chance of the game in the 3rd minute when a cross in was only half cleared and the ball fell to Lee Fraser but, fortunately, he struck his shot wide of the goal. Thistle took full advantage of the let off by taking the lead six minutes later with a superbly crafted and well finished goal. Chris Angus won the ball before shooting down to the bye-line before delivering a superb low cross right into the path of Shaun Carrol who controlled it in one movement and fired it home. In the 11th minute Liam Baxter saw a shot blocked away for a corner which eventually found Shaun Carrol who sent in a superb measured curling shot but a defender got in the way to head over. Four minutes later Liam Baxter found Andy Low whose drive was parried away by Mark Bowden who then superbly turned over the follow up shot from Liam Baxter, the resultant corner was half cleared and fell to Shaun Carrol but his drive was blocked. In the 21st minute Lewis MacKinnon sent a brilliant diagonal ball over a defender to Chris Angus who fired in a drive only to see Mark Bowden block this behind. Two minutes later a ball through was missed by a Mechanics defender and again it found Chris Angus close to the goal but the keeper stopped the effort with his feet. Almost immediately Forres broke and a chance fell to Lee Fraser but he shot wide. Back came Thistle and in the 26th minute a super move saw Andy Low find Shaun Wood whose brilliant cross was met by a great header by Liam Baxter that was superbly turned behind by Mark Bowden only for total disbelief to follow as a goal kick was awarded! The Jags continued to attack with gusto and ten minutes before the break Scott Adams delivered in a good cross which ‘Zico’ Davidson met but headed wide. Three minutes later Andy Low saw a drive turned away by Mark Bowden, it was not cleared and Shaun Carrol fed Scott Adams who cut inside before driving a shot just wide. The Can-Cans managed to put on a late spurt in the half and with five minutes remaining Dachi Khutsishvili broke through and fired in a drive which Andy Burr turned behind. A minute on Craig McGovern fired in a shot which the Jags keeper seemed to hold but then let it slip behind for another corner and then, in injury time, Chris Hegarty did really well to blast a Lee Fraser header off Stuart Soane and behind for a goal-kick. It would have been unjust if the Can Cans had been level at half-time but the Jags knew they would need a second goal to kill them off.
Half-time Buckie Thistle 1 Forres Mechanics 0
Thistle regrouped at half-time and came hurtling out of the blocks like a startled gazelle in the second half and six minutes in Chris Angus delivered in a great cross that was just turned behind. Then in the 54th minute Chris Angus won the ball again and slid it through to Scott Adams who cut inside but his drive was turned behind. The corner was only half cleared and reached Lewis MacKinnon about 25 yards out and he crashed in a stunning dipping drive only to see Mark Bowden brilliantly turn the ball over the bar. Forres had a rare chance a couple of minutes on when Lee Fraser met a cross but his header was held by Andy Burr. The Jags replied in the 65th minute when a cross along the 18 yard line found Chris Angus but his shot was deflected behind for a corner. Ten minutes later Chris Angus set off on a superb run before delivering a fine cross which Andy Low dummied into the path of Scott Adams who crashed in a drive only to see that man Mark Bowden pull off another stunning stop. The corner led to another which was only cleared to Andy Low whose cross was met by Scott Adams but his header dipped wide. A second deserved goal arrived with thirteen minutes left and it was a cracker as Andy Low delivered a super pass through the defence to Chris Angus who raced in on goal and cracked the ball past the onrushing Mark Bowden. With five minutes left Lewis MacKinnon was shown a second yellow then red and from the free-kick Scott Moore fired in a shot but it went wide. In injury time a clean sheet was preserved when Andy Burr superbly saved from a powerful header, off a corner, from Steven Fraser.
Full-time Buckie Thistle 2 Forres Mechanics 0
A well merited win for the Jags which will have rebooted the old confidence and there is no doubt that morale is higher under the guidance of ‘Spider’ Stewart and Lewis MacKinnon. With no midweek game the batteries can be recharged before the next task and it is a difficult one as Thistle, weather permitting, head to Station Park to face Nairn County who will be anxious to avenge their loss to Thistle earlier in the season. Station Park has been a very difficult venue for the Jags in recent years with a draw their best result, I wager they would not be unhappy with another point from the trip but if they play like they did against Clach and Forres then there is no reason why they cannot pick up a great three points
Buckie Thistle – Burr, S Wood, Carrol, Davidson (K Gauld), MacKinnon, Hegarty, Angus, Cheyne (MacRae), Baxter (MacMillan), Low and Adams Subs – B Stewart, Copeland, D Wood and Strong (GK)
Forres Mechanics – Bowden, Smith, Allan, S Fraser, MacKintosh (Grant), Jones (Moore), Soane, Duncan (A Fraser), L Fraser, Khutsishvili and McGovern Subs – Forbes, McIver, Hutcheson and Simpson (GK)