Jags Go Nap At Kynoch Park by Easton Thain

Having not won since December 13th the Jags were desperate to end that run and felt that they would have a great chance of doing this against the Maroons young charges at Kynoch Park but nothing could be taken for granted as Keith had put up a real fight against reigning champs Brora Rangers four days earlier. In what turned out to be an excellent advert for Highland League football the final result suggests that it was a bit of a canter for Thistle but nothing could be further from the truth as Gordon Winton’s loons pushed the Jags to the limit and, to be fair, they deserved a wee bit better. They hassled and harried Thistle when they could and but for the superb display by new keeper Matthew McGinley in the last 20 minutes of the first half then the result could have been a lot different. Having said that ex-Jag Daniel Bell in the home game did likewise in both halve and but for him Thistle could have bagged a few more themselves. All credit to the Jags though as they played some superb football and moving skipper Lewis MacKinnon to the attack for this game worked to a tee as he held the ball up superbly allowing others to feed off of him. Overall the whole Thistle combine put in a great shift but standing tall above them all was Matthew McGinley in goal, he was so commanding in his box and barked out instructions continuously, Kevin Fraser in midfield whose searing pace and trickery led the home defence a merry dance many a time, Lewis MacKinnon up front for his power and Chris Angus for his finishing ability. Drew Copeland also stood out and deserved his goal. There weren’t too many negatives but once again there was some worrying defending which other teams will punish.

There was only one team in it for about the first twenty minutes as Thistle pushed Keith onto the defensive and in just the 3rd minute a Drew Copeland cross found Lewis MacKinnon who fed Chris Angus and he shot the ball home but the joy was short-lived as offside was given. Two minutes on Lewis MacKinnon played another ball on to Drew Copeland but he sliced his shot. 60 seconds after that Shaun Carrol sent in a great ball which Lewis MacKinnon met with a dipping header only to see Daniel Bell tip the ball over. The pressure had to pay and it did in the 10th minute when Chris Hegarty sent a great ball to Kevin Fraser who found Drew Copeland but his effort was cleared behind. From the corner though Lewis MacKinnon back-headed the ball on and Kevin Fraser headed home. The Jags dander was up and four minutes later Chris Angus found Lewis MacKinnon who executed a great turn before smashing in a drive only to see Daniel Bell pull off a brilliant save. It was all action in the 17th minute firstly at the Jags end when Mike Ewen saw a drive deflected up in the air, Greg Smith promptly headed the ball towards the top corner only to see Matthew McGinley pull off a fine save. Almost immediately at the other end Kevin Fraser fed the ball into Drew Copeland who had a great chance but he was denied by a blocking tackle. Four minutes on another ball through was held up by Lewis MacKinnon who then set up Andy Low but he shot wide. Thistle had a lucky escape in the 24th minute when Greg Smith appeared to be shoved over in the box but the ref saw it as a dive and booked the Maroons winger. Four minutes later a ball through found Craig Cormack who was given all the time in the world and he moved forward before crashing in a spectacular drive that beat Matthew McGinley all ends up but crashed back off the bar. This was rip-roaring stuff and just 60 seconds on at the other end a ball in from Drew Copeland was half cleared and fell to Kevin Fraser who crashed it goal-wards only to see Daniel Bell pull off a superb save. From then on though the Jags lost their way and Keith smelt blood. Ten minutes before the break a corner led to a scramble and eventually Bruce Milne sent in a header that seemed goal bound until Matthew McGinley pulled off a great save. Three minutes later a throw in led to a chance for Mike Ewen who duly smashed in a drive only to see Matthew McGinley pull off another superb stop. However, the inevitable happened just 60 seconds after that when a corner came in and Bruce Milne out-jumped the defence to head home. Three minutes before the break came the save of the game when a rocket shot from Craig Cormack took a wicked deflection and the ball was careering into the top corner of the net until Matthew McGinley flew to his left to produce a world class save to turn the ball behind.

Half-time Keith 1 Buckie Thistle 1

The first real action of the second half came six minutes in when Shaun Carrol found Chris Angus who set up Andy Low who crashed in a searing drive only to see Daniel Bell pull off a stunning save. The corner that followed was met by Lewis MacKinnon but his header was deflected for another corner which Darren Wood went for but the ball was just cleared away. Four minutes on at the other end a free-kick in was half cleared and fell to Craig Cormack but he smacked the ball wide. In the 61st minute though the Jags retook the lead after luck initially went AWOL . They won a direct free-kick about 23 yards out right in Andy Low territory, he duly stepped up and smashed in a glorious drive that beat Daniel Bell all ends up only to crash off the bar, however lurking nearby was top scorer Chris Angus and he reacted first to head home. Five minutes later it seemed all over when Andy Low delivered a great free-kick into the box which Lewis MacKinnon held up before setting up Chris Angus who worked the space beautifully before firing the ball into the corner of the net. However, the Jags got a bit sloppy again and paid for this with fifteen minutes left when they got in a fankle allowing Robbie Collinson space and he moved before crashing a stunning shot into the top corner of the net. Thankfully less than 30 seconds later the home defence got in a real fankle letting in Chris Angus whose ball in was flicked on by Kevin Fraser and as Daniel Bell hesitated Drew Copeland ran in and knocked it home. Just 60 seconds later it really was all over as Thistle went nap. Initially a great chance came for Kevin Fraser but his drive was turned behind by Daniel Bell but from a great corner in by Shaun Carrol, Lewis MacKinnon headed home, a deserved goal for his performance. With nine minutes left the skipper left the arena and on came ‘Franny’ MacMillan and within seconds he met a free-kick in by Andy Low with a superb low header only to see Daniel Bell brilliantly turn this behind, the corner in fell to Chris Angus who showed great control but his shot fizzed over. At long last the all action passed and Thistle eased to victory!

Full-time Keith 2 Buckie Thistle 5

What a terrific game this was, just what the fans want to see, lots of attacking plays, thrills and spills aplenty and great action. Thistle was deserved winners in the end as they had more of the game. This was a much needed win for the Jags and it was ironic that manager Graeme Stewart wasn’t able to attend the match!! Hopefully Thistle will kick on from this but their next game is no easy as they head to Harlaw Park but if they need any inspiration just look back to their last visit and the sensational display in the League Cup semi-final. Lets see that fighting spirit once again – oh when the Jags go steaming in!

Match Photo’s Courtesy of Allan Robertson

Keith – Bell, Scully, Hutcheon, Dunn, Mitchell, Milne, Smith, Collinson (Whelan), McDonald, Ewen, Cormack Subs – Robison, Stewart, Massie, Greig and Dey (GK)

Buckie Thistle – McGinley, MacRae, Carrol, Hegarty, MacKinnon (MacMillan), D Wood, Fraser, Cheyne (Munro), Angus, Low and Copeland (K Gauld) Subs – S Gauld, S Wood and Strong (GK)

Referee – T Shaw

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