Jubilant Jags Flatten Formartine! By Easton Thain
A superb display by Thistle in the Aberdeenshire Cup semi-final at North Lodge Park, Pitmedden saw them deservedly send the cup holders spinning out of the competition to set up a mouth-watering final against Fraserburgh on October 18th. To a man every Jags player was outstanding on the night and a brilliant team effort overall brought a merited victory. From back to front every player was at the top of his game and as a result they were a threat to Formartine all night when going forward and they nullified United’s threat when defending. Kevin Main was commanding in goal whilst Shaun Wood and Bob Duncan were superb in the full-back positions whilst both supported the attack well when the opportunity arose. In central defence Iain MacRae and Chris Hegarty used their combine experience to snuff out the danger of Cammy Keith and Stuart Anderson, In central midfield Jay Cheyne and Donnie Munro worked their socks off and won their individual battles whereas the double wing threat of Chris Angus and Scott Adams was a constant menace to the home defence, both lads were outstanding as they also nullified their opposite numbers. Up from Andrezej Kleczkowski and Andy Low worked superbly well together and both were rewarded with goals, the latter netting another ‘Lowzer’ special. From the dusting at Forres and the unlucky league defeat at home to Formartine the Jags have been a team transformed with this victory making it four on the spin and they have succeeded in the manner that has been needed by playing ‘carpet’ football that has been rapier like on the better surfaces and digging in for battling victories on trickier surfaces. All good signs then but you are only as good as your last game and it is now imperative that the superb win in Pitmedden is followed by a positive result against Strathspey Thistle.
Thistle did have some nervy moments and in the first minute United won a free-kick and from it Cammy Keith got a free header but luckily this went straight to Kevin Main. Two minutes later the Jags didn’t clear their lines allowing a chance for Stuart Anderson but his effort was blocked. Then in the 9th minute another clearance fell to Cammy Keith who thumped in a drive but Kevin Main made an excellent save before the ball was cleared. 60 seconds on came Thistle’s first chance as a Scott Adams cross was helped on by Chris Angus to Donnie Munro who fired in a drive but Andy Shearer pulled off a fine save. Buoyed by this the Jags pressed on and on the quarter-hour mark Chris Hegarty sent a brilliant diagonal ball across to Chris Angus who delivered in a great cross but Andy Shearer just got to it. 60 seconds later Andy Low slid a great ball through to Andrezej Kleczkowski who moved in on goal but then thumped his shot wide. United briefly responded in the 22nd minute when Gary Clark fed Stuart Anderson who showed a nice touch but then shot over. Two minutes later Sam French set off on a ruin that carried him into the heart of the defence, the ball broke for Craig McKeown but his shot looped over. Back came Thistle and a further minute on Chris Angus delivered a cross which Andy Low challenged for, the ball broke nicely for Scott Adams but under pressure he blazed over. In the 38th minute Shaun Wood won the ball well and sent a great ball to Chris Angus but he blazed his shot wide. Three minutes before the break though the Jags opened the scoring when Scott Adams sent in a fine delivery that caused all sorts of problems whereupon like all good strikers Andrezej Kleczkowski pounced and slid his shot past Andy Shearer. A massive boost so close to half-time!
Half-time Formartine United 0 Buckie Thistle 1
Having established a lead it was vital for Thistle to keep it tight at the start of the second half but they had a narrow escape just two minutes in when a Formartine corner was not cleared and when the ball came back in it fell to Craig McKeown who smacked in a drive only for Kevin Main to pull off a superb save. The Jags responded in the 51st minute with an audacious attempt from Chris Angus when the ball fell to him just inside United’s half, the ‘Blonde Bomber’ spotted Andy Shearer just off his line so duly lobbed it in only for it to land on the top of the net. Back came Formartine and in the 55th minute another chance fell to Cammy Keith as the Jags failed to clear their lines but the striker was again denied by a fine save from Kevin Main and then the ball was hoofed clear. Two minutes later a throw in flew into the box and was not dealt with allowing a chance for Neil McVitie but thankfully he poked the ball wide. Then, on the hour, a great escape for Thistle when a ball in from Cammy Keith fell right to Craig McKeown just yards from goal but he contrived to shoot wide. Duly relieved the Jags then killed the tie off with a double-whammy of goals that were right out of the top drawer. In the 61st minute they won a direct free-kick, more or less central and about 20 yards out. That was right in the territory of a certain shorn headed striker, a fellow reporter behind me said ‘he will score from this’ and sure enough up stepped Andy Low to curl home a brilliant shot that gave Andy Shearer no chance. Just four minutes later the tie was all but dead and buried as Thistle struck again with a peach of a goal. Scott Adams picked the ball up wide and delivered in a delicious cross that cleared the central defence and fell into the path of Chris Angus who smashed home a superb half volley. Bearing in mind what had happened in the League game at North Lodge Park last season I was not counting any chickens as yet and Formartine tried to fight back. In the 72nd minute Craig McKeown set off on a good run before firing in a low 20-yard shot but Kevin Main held this well. The Jags responded a minute later when Jay Cheyne fed Chris Angus who ran in and fired in a drive but this was held by Andy Shearer. In the 83rd minute a ball forward by United was left by Cammy Keith for Callum Bagshaw but he drove over and that was basically that as the Jags eased home to the final whistle – cue many celebrations!
Full-time Formartine United 0 Buckie Thistle 3
Formartine United – Shearer, Jeffrey, S Smith, McKeown, Hay, Munro, Clark (C Bagshaw), McVitie (Dingwall), Keith, Anderson and French (Madle) Subs – McKay, M Smith and Doak (GK)
Buckie Thistle – Main, S Wood, Duncan, Munro, MacRae, Hegarty, Angus, Cheyne, Kleczkowski (Hodge), Low (Baxter) and Adams (K Gauld) Subs – S Gauld, Copeland, MacMillan and Strong (GK)
Referee – T Shaw
A great win for the Jags and if the final was right now then it would be a cracker with both Thistle and the Broch in fine form. Assuming they keep their form up until Oct 18th it could be a superb match all the same but, of course, a lot could happen between now and then! It will be the first Aberdeenshire Cup Final between the teams since 1984/ 85 which saw the Jags, bedecked in green and white stripes (!) whack the Broch 3-0 at Victoria Park with a young lad by the name of Alan ‘Mickey’ McPherson being man of the match. If I am right the match on Oct 18th will be the sixth final meeting between the two with the Jags having won the last three in 1954/ 55, 1956/ 57 and 1984/ 85. The Broch wins were in 1910/ 11 and 1963/ 64 although in the latter they won it without a game being played, the only time in the cup history this has happened! On that occasion Thistle could not raise a team as their Aberdeen-placed players were not allowed to leave the city due to the Typhoid outbreak and thus the Broch were awarded the cup! For now the final to come has to be put on the ‘back-burner’ and it is all about the League game against Strathspey Thistle and to maintain confidence a victory is needed by the Buckie Jags especially with the daunting Scottish Cup tie to come at Auchinleck. On form Buckie should win the battle of the Jags but the Grantown boys will be no pushover and have a lively midfield and forward line so nothing can be taken for granted and the home Jags must be switched on, patient and play with the right attitude, do that and they should succeed.