Six Of The Best From Buckie by Easton Thain
Earlier in the season Strathspey Thistle had come to Victoria Park for the first league game and had left with a 2-2 draw, a game they nearly won, on what was a tortuous afternoon for the Buckie Jags. Our Thistle then set off to Grantown with revenge on mind and with back-to-back wins behind them they were very confident of taking care of the Strathy Jags though nothing would be taken for granted. Our lads took the field with a changed and somewhat youthful side due to the fact that Chris Angus was unavailable having become a dad to a baby girl the night before and Lewis MacKinnon is on holiday in Mexico, Jay Cheyne was suspended and Donnie Munro was out injured. Back in from suspension to add experience was Chris Hegarty whilst Robert Scott was brought in form the Rovers for a trial. It has to be said that the precocious teenager was not fazed in the slightest about stepping up to Highland League level and he had a fine match, probing the home defence and being a constant nuisance throughout, I suspect it wont be long before we see him sporting the hoops on a regular basis. Along with Robert the other youngster were outstanding in the game with Drew Copeland and Kyle Gauld running rings round the home side and both could have had goals to their names but it wasn’t to be. Up front Liam Baxter grabbed his opportunity with both hands skinning the home defence at will and he helped himself to a hat-trick to keep on the coat-tails of top scorer Chris Angus. Kevin Fraser again showed what a class act he is and he would leave better teams defences for dead as well as he showed at Inverurie in the previous match. At the back there was the odd narrow squeak but the defence played well overall even getting in on the scoring act!
Come full time it was easy to forget that Buckie had a notable escape in just the third minute when a mistake let in Matthew Murphy who had a great chance to open the scoring but Matthew McGinley managed to deflect the ball wide for a corner. The Strathy Jags were encouraged by that and were in the game in the opening fifteen minutes. On the latter mark our Jags had their first chance when a corner was played into Drew Copeland who got free but he hit his shot wide. Two minutes on Buckie took the lead and when the ball was lashed home yours truly had to do a double-take to make sure he got the scorer right! Initially Shaun Wood saw a drive deflected behind for a corner, the second corner was only partially cleared allowing Chris Hegarty to fin Shaun Carrol who sent in a brilliant low cross which was smashed home with a left foot volley from….Darren Wood! Woody thus netted only his second goal for the club and both have been crackers! In the 19th minute Lima Baxter got free but his cross-shot drifted wide of the far post. Just 60 seconds on our Jags doubled their lead with another super strike as Kevin Fraser got free and drilled in a superb cross and Liam Baxter skilfully directed the ball into the net. Strathspey didn’t give up and in the 23rd minute Mark McKernie saw a free-kick deflect off the defence and go wide. Buckie responded four minutes on when Andy Low sent in a corner which Robert Scott met but his header went over. Back came the home side and our Thistle had their biggest escape in the 31st minute when Jordan Wardope met a corner and headed past Matthew McGinley but Drew Copeland cleared off the line and this led to a second corner which was not fully cleared allowing Connor McAuley to fire in a shot but the ball flew over. Back came Buckie and three minutes on a cross in was not cleared and fell to Drew Copeland who fired in a drive but veteran keeper Steve Dun pulled off a fine save. In the 36th minute a ball over the home defence was cottoned onto by Liam Baxter who moved in before firing in a shot which Steve Dunn turned behind. Four minutes on superb play led to a cross from Liam Baxter and a chance for Kevin Fraser but he shot over. Then in the 42nd minute Darren Wood sent a great ball through to Kyle Gauld who set up Kevin Fraser but his shot was blocked. On half-time though Josh Peters shook off the attentions of Darren Wood and fired in a drive only to see Matthew McGinley pull off a fine save
Half-time Strathspey Thistle 0 Buckie Thistle 2
Buckie pressed early in the second half to try and get a killer third and in the 48th minute a ball in was half cleared and fell to Shaun Wood but he saw his drive blocked. 60 seconds later the latter fed Andy Low but he sent his drive over. In the 50th minute Shaun Wood sent a brilliant ball over the defence only for Liam Baxter to lash it wide. Moments on though Andy Low lost the ball letting in Jack McShane but his shot was held by Matthew McGinley. 60 seconds after that Liam Baxter won the ball and set up Kyle Gauld who fired in a drive but Steve Dunn pulled off a fine save. I the 53rd minute the home side won a corner which James McShane headed on but from eight yards out Josh Peters headed over. Buckie had three frustrations from set pieces but finally killed off the home side in the 63rd minute with a brilliant third. Drew Copeland set off on a magnificent run from midfield all the way to near the bye-line whereupon he cut the ball across and there was Kevin Fraser to turn the ball home. Two minutes on Kyle Gauld showed superb skill before bearing down on goal only to send his final shot over. 60 seconds after that Buckie struck again when Kevin Fraser picked the ball up in midfield and sent a beautiful pass through into the path of Liam Baxter who ran in and smashed the ball into the far corner of the net. In the 69th minute another break led to another super pass from Kevin Fraser to Liam Baxter who ran in and fired in a hard drive but Steve Dunn pulled off a brilliant save. Three minutes on though the Buckie jags went nap when a superb pass through led to Liam Baxter shooting the ball past Steve Dunn but as he went to celebrate his hat-trick Kevin Fraser knocked the ball home! Strathspey kept trying and with thirteen minutes left Chris Hegarty lost the ball to Josh Peters who shot past Matthew McGinley but Shaun Carrol cleared for a corner. With ten minutes left Shaun Wood found Kevin Fraser who sent over a cross which Liam Baxter met with an audacious overhead kick but the ball flew wide. Four minutes on though Strathspey was hit for six when Kevin Fraser crossed and Liam Baxter shot past the keeper, a defender effectively knocked the ball in but Liam was on target so it was his goal for me and a hat-trick! Buckie nearly added to their tally with three minutes left when a great ball from Robert Scott found Kyle Gauld who bore down on goal but Steve Dunn denied him once again by turning the shot behind. On time Kevin Fraser set Craig MacMillan free and he drilled the ball home but offside was given.
Full-time Strathspey Thistle 0 Buckie Thistle 6
Some super stuff from our boys then although they will face stiffer challenges in their last three games. All credit to manager ‘Spider’ Stewart for boldly going for a young side and it paid off as they all starred in the match. I am very excited about the future if the gaffer continues down this line, these young lads have talent by the bucket-load and the more they play in the Highland League the better they will get and the basis will be there for a very good side. You still need experience though and the management team will be out to bolster the team with more of that in the summer. For now we can cautiously expect that the future is bright – it’s green and white! Next up the Jags head to Lossiemouth with revenge in mind, the Reds stunned Thistle at the start of January on a day the Jags were woeful. The latter alone should act as incentive for the boys to do better this time! Sadly I will have to hand the reporting duties to someone else as I’ll be in Glasgow but my heart and hopes will be at Lossiemouth!
Strathspey Thistle – Dunn, Wardrope, Nedialkov (Aubrey), Maley, McShane, McKernie (Fraser), McAuley, Groat, Murphy, Peters and Kennedy
Buckie Thistle – McGinley, S Wood, Carrol, Hegarty, D Wood (MacRae), Scott, Copeland, Fraser, Baxter, Low (MacMillan) and K Gauld
Referee – A Cooper