Jags End On A High Note by Easton Thain
The final curtain fell on a mixed season for the Jags against Huntly and Thistle ended on a high note with a deserved victory over Gregg Carrol’s charges. All credit to the Strathbogie side a their team which was full of young trialists gave it their all and nearly came close to taking advantage of some wayward defending at times by the Jags notably in the first half. Thistle got a lucky break early on but it wasn’t until they struck their second goal just after half-time that they took command of the proceedings. However, there were positive signs again for the future notably the performance in midfield by Drew Copeland who put on a terrific display of midfield football. Going forward he caused the visitors al sorts of problems and coming back he defended solidly. Other plus points included playing Lewis MacKinnon up front where his physical presence won many a battle and in my book Thistle would be best served with him playing as a target man in the future. Jay Cheyne was the other Jag to really catch the eye with a solid battling display with a bit of flair in midfield and on his day he is a very effective player.
The Jags came charging out of the blocks and they should have taken the lead in the 4th minute when Shaun Wood freed Kevin Fraser who was clean in on goal only to shoot wide – it would turn out to be a frustrating afternoon for the talented Highlander. Three minutes on the early pressure brought its reward but after fine lead up play the opening goal was a bit fortunate. It looked good initially as Drew Copeland fed Lewis MacKinnon who set Chris Angus free but when his cross came in it was the unfortunate trialist No 6 that turned the ball into his own net. 60 seconds later it could have been 2-0 as Lewis MacKinnon set off on a fine run before finding Drew Copeland who look to curl the ball into the far corner of the net but sent it wide. In the 12th minute the aforementioned trialist No 6 nearly scored a second own goal as he sliced a Chris Angus shot over his own bar. Four minutes on though it was Thistle who had a massive escape courtesy of magnificent goalkeeping. Shaun Wood conceded possession and Huntly broke into the box and after a decent penalty claim was turned down panic ensued and a shot from trialist No 10 seemed to have goal written all over it until Matthew McGinley brilliantly clawed the ball away though Huntly had a decent claim that it was over the line. A minute after that Sam Harrison found it all to easy to get through and free David Booth who laid the ball on a plate for Ian Cruickshank but he contrived to shoot over. On the half hour Lewis Ingram sent a wicked free-kick into the Thistle box but Darren Wood managed to head the ball over. Two minutes before the break Jay Cheyne fired in a shot that was blocked, the ball was not cleared and Chris Angus picked it up but contrived to shoot across goal and wide. Almost immediately up at the other end Ian Cruickshank fed Sam Harrison who broke through but shot over. In injury time Kevin Fraser received the ball held it up well and then crashed in a drive only to see Fraser Hobday pull off a superb save. From the resultant corner Lewis MacKinnon met the ball only to see his header come back off the post
Half-time Buckie Thistle 1 Huntly 0
Any frustrations the Jags faithful might have had ended less than a minute into the second half with an excellent second goal with all the hard work being done by that loon Drew Copeland. He won the ball before setting off on a searing 50 yard run before slipping the ball through, a defender got a touch but Chris Angus got on to the ball and knocked it home from about 12 yards out. That settled the Jags who then took the game to Huntly. In the 51st minute superb play saw Andy Low play a 1-2 with Kevin Fraser but he then shot over. Three minutes after that Drew Copeland fed Chris Angus who set up Jay Cheyne in his change of boots and he flashed in a great drive only to see Fraser Hobday turn the ball over. The corner was only half cleared and fell to Lewis MacKinnon but his low drive was held by the keeper. 60 seconds after that Gary McNamee fed Iain Cruickshank from a free-kick but the latter’s effort was deflected for a fruitless corner. Just before the hour it should have been 3-0 only for Kevin Fraser’s frustration to continue as he was sent clear through only to shoot across the goal, Chris Angus could have turned this home but hesitated and a defender cleared. In the 67th minute the Highlanders day was summed up after a great ball set Drew Copeland free, he delivered a great pass into the path of Kevin Fraser but a moment’s hesitation allowed Fraser Hobday to race out and bravely block the striker’s final effort. Six minutes on another great opportunity fell to Thistle as Kyle Gauld set Kevin Fraser free, he in turn found Chris Angus but the latter could only loop the ball into the air, it then crossed the goal area towards Craig MacMillan but he was not expecting it and headed wide. With fourteen minutes left Drew Copeland sent a great pass across to Kyle Gauld but he was again denied a first-ever competitive goal for the Jags thanks to a brilliant save by Fraser Hobday. With eight minutes left Gary McNamee bullied his way through the Jags defence but then shot just wide of goal. With a minute left a cross found David Christie who flashed in a drive only to see Matt McGinley pull off a brilliant save. In the final minute Chris Angus hit the bye-line and fed Craig MacMillan who poked the ball past the keeper, the former then knocked it home but was denied his second of the game by the assistant referee’s flag.
Full-time Buckie Thistle 2 Huntly 0
Match Photo’s courtesy of Allan Robertson
Buckie Thistle – McGinley, S Wood, Carrol, D Wood (Gauld), MacKinnon (MacMillan), MacRae, Angus, Cheyne (Munro), Fraser, Low and Copeland
Huntly – Hobday, Trialist, Ingram (Trialist), McNamee, Lawson, Trialist, Harrison (Trialist), Cruickshank, Booth, Trialist and Christie
Referee – T Shaw
A satisfying end to the season then for Thistle and all the vibes around Victoria Park are positive and with a bit of strengthening to the squad there is no reason why they cannot progress into at least the top 8 in 2015-16. The management are under no illusions though that areas need strengthening. In my own opinion the Jags need more pace at the back, Robbie Brown and Davie MacRae style midfielders and an out and out striker who does his job and nothing else! What does excite me though is that young talent is burgeoning and for me Drew Copeland was rightfully chosen Young Player of the Year. My only hope is that they get the chance to flourish in 2015-16 and don’t get shelved for all out experience, you need both in my book! Lets all recharge the batteries for now and come back full of vim and vigour for the 2015-16 campaign. Oh when the Jags go steaming in!