Close Encounter Of The (Not) Unexpected Kind! By Easton Thain

Ever since 2000/ 01 when the two great rivals have clashed in League games at Victoria Park neither has won a game by more than a single goal so not unexpectedly the latest encounter proved to be as close as expected with neither giving an inch in the heat of battle. The final result was probably about right although it was Thistle who played the better football on the deck and they edged the chances as well but Vale had plenty of pressure also notably in the early stages and after having taken an early lead they were only denied what could have been a killer second by a great save from Kevin Main. For the game the Jags gave a starting berth up front to new man Andrej Kleczkowski and all the signs point to Thistle having done a shrewd bit of business to snap up the striker who netted 22 goals for Huntly last season. Having not played for about six months he naturally tired late on but his replacement was an inspired substitution and returned to haunt the Vale once again. Also at the back Chris Hegarty made his first appearance of the season but you could see he is a class act as he held everything together and he calmly dealt with situations that arose, for all of this he was awarded man of the match by Eric Hay. In the crucial midfield central area Donnie Munro and Jay Cheyne matched their opposite numbers whilst Chris Angus and Scott Adams worked very hard for the cause. Bringing on Graeme ‘Spider’ Stewart for the second half was also a good move as he caused some real problems for the Vale.

In a derby game like this it is imperative to get off to a good start but the Jags did anything but finding themselves a goal down in only the 2nd minute, the goal being down to a mixture of misfortune but also not being switched on. A free-kick came into the box which Iain MacRae went to clear but didn’t and the ball then hit the back of Jay Cheyne and promptly fell into the path of former Thistle striker Martin Charlesworth who gave Kevin Main no chance with a blistering close range shot. In the first fifteen minutes there was no doubting that Vale held the upper hand and in the 11th minute they nearly doubled their lead when a ball across the box found the unmarked Liam Archibald who crashed in a drive only to see Kevin Main pull off a great save, the ball was not fully cleared and found its way to Colin Charlesworth but fortunately he shot over. The only early chance for Thistle had come two minutes before that when Scott Adams picked up a clearance and worked his way across but his final low shot was held by Darren MacConnachie. In the second part of the half the jags upped their game and in the 20th minute Donnie Munro exchanged passes with Andrej Kleczkowski but then shot wide and two minutes later a similar fate befell a Scott Adams effort after he got to a cross from Chris Angus. In the 37th the latter set off on a good run and crossed towards ‘Franny’ MacMillan but the ball fell to Donnie Munro and his shot was blocked. Five minutes later the ball was worked out to Scott Adams who worked his way inside but he sent his final effort wide. 60 seconds after that ‘Franny’ MacMillan fought for and won the ball but he also sent his final effort wide

Half-time Buckie Thistle 0 Deveronvale 1

For the second half ‘Spider’ Stewart replaced Shaun Wood and the formation changed to a 3-5-2 and it worked as the Jags had more of the game in the second 45 and played some grand football on the ‘carpet’. Seven minutes in ‘Spider’ Stewart sent a great ball into the box which Andrej Kleczkowski got too but only just and he glanced a header wide. The teams exchanged set-pieces but in the 65th minute a good move saw Andrej Kleczkowski find Jay Cheyne before the ball broke to Liam Baxter but he shot over. Six minutes later though Thistle got their just desserts by drawing level and it was a goal to savour. Fine play led to Donnie Munro playing the ball into Andy Low who took a stride forward before thundering and unstoppable drive past Darren MacConnachie and into the net. The Jags dander was up and with fifteen minutes left Liam Baxter fed Andy Low but this time ‘Lowzer’ shot wide. Then in the 77th minute Donnie Munro picked up the ball and fired in a drive but this was held by Darren MacConnachie. That was more or less that and although both sides probed at the respective defences in the final thirteen minutes no real chances were created and they had to settle for a point apiece.

Full-time Buckie Thistle 1 Deveronvale 1

Overall a lot of positives for Thistle and they definitely have a lot of talent in their ranks and there is plenty of healthy competition for places. For each game some players will be disappointed at not making the 17-man squad but if they show up well in training they will get their chance whilst those chosen for matches have to keep up their effort, determination and show self-belief as there is always someone waiting to take their place. Next up the Jags host Clachnacuddin and a swift chance to avenge the defeat in last season’s League Cup Final but this will be far from easy as the Lilywhites are dangerous opponents and only a Thistle side playing to their capabilities will gain a positive result

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Match Photo’s courtesy of Allan Robertson

Buckie Thistle – Main, S Wood (G Stewart), D Wood, J Cheyne, MacRae, Hegarty, Angus, Munro, Kleczkowski (Low), MacMillan (Baxter) and Adams

Deveronvale – MacConnachie, Aitken, Jack (Forbes), Henry, Presly (Watt), Rennie, Cowie, Rodger, M Charlesworth, Archibald (Wilmshurst) and C Charlesworth

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