Jubilant Jags Back On Track by Easton Thain
Thistle felt they had something to prove against Nairn County after the sterling effort against Formartine United brought no reward and they did just that with an excellent display against the Station Park side. Every Jags player answered the call from the gaffer to buckle down and give it everything and the commitment, effort and determination was there for all to see. Yes Nairn were hampered by the first half dismissal of lynch pin ‘Mo’ Morrison but take nothing away from Thistle for they had been the better team before that and were so after that, no toiling against ten men this time. The defence on this occasion was far more solid with man-of-the-match Shaun Wood taking care of any direct opponent but he also attacked with gusto scything through the Nairn defence at times. In the centre Lewis MacKinnon and ‘Zico’ Davidson didn’t put a foot wrong and Iain MacRae showed he can comfortably fill the left-back role, all of this meant Kevin Main had a quiet enough afternoon. In central midfield the experience of ‘Spider’ Stewart and Donnie Munro won many a battle whilst on the wings Chris Angus and Scott Adams were a constant menace to the County full backs. Up front Andy Low and Andrzej Kleczkowski again worked well together and their constant movement and tricky play foozled Nairn more than once. Of the subs used Jay Cheyne showed a touch of class when he came on, Liam Baxter added pace and he got the goal he had craved for since the start of the season and Stuart Hodge filled in well for Scott Adams. All in all a very encouraging performance and a boost before the Aberdeenshire Cup tie at Keith.
It was Nairn County who had the first chance of the game when they were awarded a direct free-kick about twenty yards from goal in the 2nd minute and up stepped Conor Gethins to send the ball round the wall but luckily also wide of the post. Thistle responded seven minutes later when Chris Angus set off on a run before finding Shaun Wood who played the ball on to Andrzej Kleczkowski who turned and shot but the effort was blocked. In the 11th minute controversy erupted as Thistle were denied what seemed to be a stonewall penalty. Andy Low slid a brilliant pass through to Chris Angus who rounded the keeper and was promptly felled, surely a penalty? However, the referee saw it differently awarded a free-kick to Nairn County and booked the Jags man. No-one could quite believe it. The referee’s assistant called the referee over and indicated it was a penalty but the whistler stood by his original decision. All this did was fire Thistle up even more and eight minutes later they took a deserved lead. They were awarded a direct free-kick in Andy Low territory and he duly stepped up and sent in a shot, it was not his greatest effort but it got past the wall and then the keeper got his angles all wrong allowing the ball to bounce off him and right into the path of Chris Angus who duly knocked it home. Buoyed by this the Jags pressed on but the next chance fell to the visitors when they won a corner which Kevin Main punched clear, the ball though fell to ‘Mo’ Morrison but his shot was blocked by Lewis MacKinnon. 60 seconds on Iain MacRae fired in a deep free-kick which Chris Angus met but his header looped over the bar. In the 28th minute Nairn were reduced to ten men, initially nothing seemed amiss as the ball went out on the far side but then the assistant referee called the referee over and after consultation the whistler brandished a straight red card to ‘Mo’ Morrison apparently for comments directed to Andrzej Kleczkowski. Thistle have struggled against ten men before but not this time and continued to press but only one more chance came in the half when Chris Angus had a super run before laying the ball across which ‘Zico’ Davidson controlled but shot wide.
Half-time Buckie Thistle 1 Nairn County 0
The Jags were determined not to let Nairn get any foothold in the second half so pressed from the off and four minutes in Shaun Wood crossed to Andy Low who turned and shot but his effort was blocked. Four minutes later Andy Low turned provider for Chris Angus but his drive was also blocked. In the 58th minute Thistle came within a whisker of doubling their lead when Iain MacRae sent a fantastic ball in to Chris Angus who knocked it past the advancing keeper only to see a defender boot it off the line. The Jags were in total command of proceedings but the next chance of note was in the 69th minute when Chris Angus set off on another fine run before crossing to Andy Low who hit it first time but the ball went over. Three minutes later Andy Low fed Scott Adams who worked himself into position and fired in a sizzling drive but this hit a team-mate en route to goal and went wide. 60 seconds on Shaun Wood found Jay Cheyne who found Scott Adams whose cross found Chris Angus but his header lacked power. With eight minutes remaining though the icing was put on the cake when Kevin Main thumped the ball downfield whereupon his opposite number Callum Donaldson made a hash of trying to clear but all credit to Liam Baxter who skilfully nicked the ball past the keeper and stroked it into the empty net for a much needed goal personally. That was basically that although the Jags kept the pressure on until full-time.
Full-time Buckie Thistle 2 Nairn County 0
A vital win for Thistle then and well merited. The Jags have an excellent squad all round that is good enough to end up better placed in the league than they were last season but only of the attitude, commitment and self-belief remains as it is just now and also if away form can be improved. The blend of youth and experience is well balanced and it is about picking the right team to deal with the opposition, experience will always feature more against the top sides and you cannot argue against that going by the display against Nairn. Youth will be bled in though and in doing so they will gain experience and in future will be the experience needed in the big games. For now it is all about Keith at Kynoch Park in the Aberdeenshire Cup quarterfinal and it is never an easy task to succeed at their ground and it has so often been an unhappy hunting ground for Jags teams. This cup though provides one of the rare chances of silverware this season so Thistle will surely be up for this game. The Maroons are a far better side now and will feel this is a great opportunity for them as well so the Jags will have to be on guard especially with the likes of Mike Ewen about. If Thistle play to form they are more than capable of winning this game and setting up a tough semi away to Formartine United.
Photo’s courtesy of Allan Robertson
Man of the match chosen by the Buckie Teachers – S Wood.
Nairn County – Donaldson, Webb, Glenn Main, Morrison, MacDonald, MacKintosh, Halsman, Wilkie (R Naismith), Duncanson (Kerr), Gethins and A Naismith
Referee – G Beaton