Hodgey Doubles Up To Keep Jags In Title Hunt by Easton Thain

The Jags Aberdeenshire League title hopes remain alive and kicking after a tough shift for the U-20’s in pretty awful conditions. It was a deadly double by Stuart Hodge in the first half that proved decisive but Thistle had to endure severe pressure from the Maroons in the second half and were a tad lucky to emerge triumphant but, at the end of the day, it is the score that matters! A new face was in goal for the Jags in the form of Greig Sim and he performed well being commanding in the box and he pulled off one notable save. Experience was in central defence in the form of overage players ‘Zico’ Davidson and Iain MacRae but the rest of the team was of youthful make up. First team regulars Kyle Gauld and Drew Copeland impressed again on the night whilst Robert Scott and Jay Cheyne worked hard. Stuart Hodge was the star man as he put in a real shift and bagged his two goals in a clinical manner.

Drew Copeland had the first chance in the 5th minute but shot over. Keith replied with a 7th minute free-kick which Hamish Ritchie hit but the ball deflected off a defenders head and behind, the corner was not fully cleared and fell to Aaron Scully but his effort was also deflected for a corner. In the 10th minute Callum Murray set up Jay Cheyne but he shot over. The Maroons responded two minutes later with an effort from Scott Robison but this was deflected wide and then, another 60 seconds later, Greig Sim got down well to hold a drive from Scott Whelan. The Jags took the lead on the half hour mark and it was mainly down to sheer persistence from Robert Scott who showed strength as he came across field before eventually slipping the ball wide into the path of Stuart Hodge who showed a cool touch before driving it home. 60 seconds on fine play by Drew Copeland led to him setting up Robert Scott hut he shot across and the ball was cleared. The pressure paid off again though in the 22nd minute when the lead was doubled. An awful pass back by a Keith defender sent the ball straight into the path of Stuart Hodge who homed in on goal rounded the keeper and rolled it home. On the half hour Kyle Gauld found Robert Scott but he shot wide. Thistle then had a huge escape in the 35th minute when Jay Cheyne lost possession and Matthew McDonald pounced to race through on goal before smashing a drive that beat Greig Sim only for the ball to crash off the post, it then fell into the path of Hamish Ritchie but he fired a great chance over. The Jags replied when they won a direct free-kick six minutes from half-time but Robert Scott’s effort was held by David Dey. 60 seconds on Drew Copeland fed ‘Calzy’ Murray but his shot was deflected for a corner. It should have been game set and match in the 43rd minute when a great low cross from Kyle Gauld fell to Stuart Hodge about six yards out but he fired his shot over under pressure.

Half-time Buckie Thistle 2 Keith 0

The Maroons grabbed the initiative on the resumption and a portent of things to come came ten minutes in when ‘Zico’ Davidson lost possession to Matthew McDonald who ran in only to shoot wide. A brief reply came on the hour when Liam Cheyne raced through, lost the ball but recovered only to knock his shot wide of goal. Keith though upped the ante and in the 64th minute Craig Cormack broke before delivering a low cross to Craig Jones who cracked in a drive only to see Greig Sim brilliantly turn the ball over. Seven minutes later another break led to a chance for Hamish Ritchie but he shot wide. Thistle had taken off Drew Copeland with the Cove Rangers game in mind by then and just after Kyle Gauld followed suit and from that point on the Jags were pinned back. Qith sixteen minutes left another cross came in and found Scott Robison but he fired a drive inches wide of the target. With ten minutes left though the inevitable happened when the ball was fed through to Scott Whelan and he smashed a drive right into the corner of the net. It looked certain the Maroons would at least draw level but somehow Thistle dug deep to keep them at bay and the last chance fell to Mike Wood when he won the ball with two minutes remaining but his final effort went just wide.

Full-time Buckie Thistle 2 Keith 0

Buckie Thistle – Sim, Gordon, L Cheyne, Davidson, MacRae, J Cheyne, Scott, Copeland (M Wood), Hodge, K Gauld (Noble) and Murray

Keith – Dey, Henderson, Morrison, Scully, Milne, Robison, Whelan, Collinson, McDonald, Ritchie and Cormack (Jones)

Referee – P McAvinue

A gruelling hard-earned win in the end and the title hopes remain alive. The final game is away to Formartine United at Pitmedden on April 15th kick-off 8 pm and all the Jags can do is win that and win it well before waiting to see if it is enough to win the flag. As of now they are level with Cove but slightly ahead on goal difference. However, Rangers last game is five days after Thistle’s when they host Keith and, if the Jags have seen off Formartine, then Cove will know exactly what they have to do to win the flag and in their own tight confines they would have every chance of that! A four goal win for Thistle at Pitmedden though would make life really difficult for Rangers!

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