Created: Saturday, 24 July 2021 12:11
Published: Saturday, 24 July 2021 12:11
Written by Stephen Shand
Today sees the return of the Highland League and we welcome newcomers Brechin City, who make their HFL debut against Turriff United at Glebe Park.
Team news and a summary of club transfer news below:
Brechin City v Turriff Utd
Brechin City take their Highland League bow with a home fixture against Turriff United. They will hope to continue the form that saw them beat League One Alloa in midweek. Highly-rated youngsters Jack Wills and Max Kucheriavyi have joined the club on loan from St. Johnstone, while evergreen forward Garry Wood comes in from Formartine United.
Turriff are the first team to make the trip to Glebe Park, and new signings for the Haughs men who could make their debuts are defender Rhys Clark from Montrose, forward Kyle Gordon and midfielder Jordan Cooper (on loan) from Inverurie Locos, and goalkeeper David Dey from Keith.
Buckie Thistle v Lossiemouth
Buckie begin their season with a coast derby against Lossiemouth at Victoria Park. Declan Milne is their only absentee through injury. The Jags have recently signed former Aberdeen youngster Max Barry on a short-term deal and former Strathspey striker Adam MacLeod. Previous loanee Jack Murray, defender Lewis Dunbar and returning goalkeeper Kevin Main also joined the club earlier this year.
Ally Bellingham is injured and misses out for Lossiemouth, but the rest of boss Joe Russell's squad should be available for selection. Martin Charlesworth and Stewart Black have both signed one year contract extensions to remain at Grant Park.
Deveronvale v Brora Rangers
Deveronvale have a tough opener against Brora Rangers at Princess Royal Park. Manager Craig Stewart has made a raft of new signings, including Jamie Tinnock, Charlie Hay and Matty Jamieson on loan from Elgin City. Goalkeeper Sean McIntosh and midfielder Michael Watson joined from junior side Dufftown, while fellow midfielder Rory Davidson returns from Deveronside along with young defender Innes McKay. James Connelly comes in on from Inverurie Locos on loan.
Brora have a full squad available with the exception of Josh Meekings, who is without a doubt this summer's most impressive signing. Meekings recently captained Dundee and previously had a successful spell at Caley Thistle. Boss Steven Mackay has also been working on some loan signings this week to add to his squad, which has been bolstered by the return of James Wallace from Morton. Mackay and his assistant Craig Campbell have signed contract extensions, as have a number of first team players.
Forres Mechanics v Wick Academy
Forres start at home to Wick Academy and will be without Dale Wood through suspension, while Graham Fraser (groin) and Stuart Soane (calf) will have late tests, but boss Charlie Rowley is hopeful both will be available. Gordon McNab has returned to the club recently after a decade away, plus Ruari Fraser has joined from Formartine United and Paul Brindle comes in from Brora Rangers.
Wick travel without several players, including Richie Macadie, Brandon Sinclair, David Allan, Andrew Hardwick and Ryan Campbell. Steven Anderson has returned to the club from Rothes and Sean Campbell, Jack Henry, Jack Halliday and Brandon Sinclair have all committed their long term futures to the club.
Fraserburgh v Formartine Utd
It's sure to be a cracking opener to the league season with Broch hosting Formartine at Bellslea, the two sides who are due to meet in the delayed 20/21 Aberdeenshire Cup Final at Harlaw Park on Wednesday night. Jamie Beagrie is offshore and misses out for the home side, and Owen Cairns is out with an injured ankle. Joe Barbour, Lewis Duncan and Scott Henry have all signed contract extensions at Bellslea.
Formartine had goalkeeper Ewen Macdonald to thank for a tremendous display in the semi final win over Buckie Thistle, he will be competing for the number one jersey at North Lodge Park with loan signing from Cove Rangers, Balint Demus. The club have also snapped up former Dundee and Aberdeen Youth Team defender Andy Paterson, while midfielders Tyler Mykyta and Kevin Hanratty have joined on loan from Aberdeen for the season. Defender Ryan Spink has also been signed from Keith. Experienced duo Craig McKeown and Garry Wood moved on in the summer.
Huntly v Strathspey Thistle
Huntly have Colin Charlesworth, Stuart Taylor, Daniel Critchard, Liam MacDonald, Bradley Manson and Zander Jack all out injured for the visit of Strathspey to Christie Park. Manager Allan Hale has been building a decent squad, including the return of Michael Clark from Formartine United. Greg Buchan and Angus Grant have came in from Fraserburgh and Turriff United respectively, while attacker Caiden Imbert-Thomas (brother of Aberdeen signing Jay Emmanuel-Thomas) has signed on a two-year contract. Ex-Forfar central defender Kyle Dalling has also penned a two-year deal, while fellow defender Jack McCormick signed a three-year deal after impressing in recent friendlies.
Former Forres legend Charlie Brown makes his debut in the dugout for the Grantown Jags and will be without Roddy Kennedy. Ashley Ballam is also a doubt. A couple of trialists who have been training with the squad could be involved. Jake Thomson has joined the club on loan for the season from Elgin City, while 'keeper Robert Donaldson has returned to Seafield Park from Rothes.
Inverure Locos v Clach
Locos begin their campaign at home to Clach and boss Andy Low has a full squad available, apart from the suspended Greg Mitchell. Former player Kieran Adams has returned to Harlaw Park from Bridge of Don Thistle on a three-year deal. He's joined at the club by ex-Montrose defender James Connolly, while Ross Still also returned after leaving Huntly on a free transfer.
Clach travel without the injured Eachainn Miller, Alan Kerr and Danny Bruce. Striker Liam Taylor has signed a three-year deal with the club, while central defender Michael McRobert comes in from North Caley FA side Loch Ness FC. Former youth player Calum Black has also returned to Grant Street.
Keith v Nairn County
Keith start off at home to Nairn County without their legendary striker Cammy Keith, who decided to hang up his boots last weekend after an incredible 263 goals for the club in two spells at Kynoch Park. New signings for the Maroons include Luke Emmett, Tom Andrews, Michael Ironside and Craig Reid.
Tom McLennan, Callum Howarth and Scott Davidson are all out injured for Nairn, who have re-signed their own legendary goalscorer Conor Gethins after his release from Formartine. Defender John Treasurer comes in on a one-year deal from Fort William. County also secured the services of Dylan Mackenzie and Angus Day on further one-year deals this summer.
Rothes v Fort William
Rothes manager Ross Jack has a full squad to chose from for their season opener at home to Fort William. The Speysiders have made some good signings for the new term, including Greg Morrison from Brora, former Formartine and Nairn midfielder Wayne Mackintosh, ex-Clach skipper Michael Finnis and Shane Harkness from Caley Thistle, who spent time on loan with club last season. Twelve members of the League Cup winning squad have also signed contract extensions.
Fort have two players out with COVID and another one suffering with the after effects of it. Two of their new signings don't have international clearance in time for this game. Those seven new signings include midfielder Darren Brew, defender Brandon Scott, striker Marios Avraam from Cheshire League side Billinge, and youngsters Josh Wallace and Robbie Rydings.