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Sam Mackay produced an outstanding performance as Wick Academy spoiled Inverurie Locos’ new year party as the club announced the arrival of manager Neil Cooper.

The home side were lucky to keep all 11 players on the pitch as Stephen Jeffrey launched himself into a nasty looking tackle on Danny MacKay, with both players emerging from the following scuffle with just bookings against their name.

As both sides enjoyed their share of possession, Inverurie produced the first opportunity on goal after a quiet 15 minutes when Neil McLean drove down the right flank into the box, only for his low effort to be parried into the side netting.

It took a further 10 minutes for Wick to register their first threat on goal, however, as Sam Mackay's curling free-kick into a crowded box somehow evaded any touches before bouncing clear.

This was merely a warning of things to come as with 35 minutes on the clock, Wick took a well-deserved lead. Playing advantage after a late foul on Gary Weir, Sam Mackay took the Locos defence by surprise with a shot from the edge of the box which evaded the stretching grasp of Scott Mathieson and the ball landed in the bottom left corner.

As the match quickly approached the half, Inverurie had one last chance to go into the break level as Colin Charlesworth burst forward, through the Wick defence and into the box, only for a heavy final touch to give Sean McCarthy enough time to come off his line and smother the eventual shot.

Having survived the late scare, Wick quickly set about putting the game beyond doubt as they doubled their lead within five minutes of the restart. Inverurie handed the opportunity on a plate as Daniel Crisp took the legs of Steven Anderson as the Wick man quickly turned in the box. Sam Mackay then confidently stepped up to chip the ball down the centre of the goal from the resultant penalty, as Scott Mathieson dove to his right. 

As Wick took command of the match, they should've stretched their lead even further as David Allan slotted Sam Mackay into the Locos box, but Mathieson provided a strong reaction save to push the ball low past the post.

Wick's relentless attacking continued as Inverurie required a last-ditch sliding clearance on the line by Crisp to keep the game alive. Inevitably, Wick got their third goal from the resulting corner as the Locos defence failed to react to an inswinging cross played down by Weir. With the defence pulled to the right, substitute Marc MacGregor reacted first to the pass as he calmly poked the ball into the net from close range. 

Inverurie threatened a late comeback as Crisp continued his eventual day as he grabbed a late consolation off a McLean corner. Lurking around the penalty spot, Crisp rose above the surrounding defenders to nod the ball into the far corner.

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1 Buckie Thistle 34 94 82
2 Cove Rangers 34 79 82
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11 Clachnacuddin 34 -24 41
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