Mackay delighted with perfect start
STEVEN Mackay said he couldn't have asked for a better performance as Brora Rangers brushed aside Wick Academy on the opening day of the Highland League season.
The north derby was Mackay's first competitive match since taking on the player/manager role and goals from Kyle Macleod and Craig Campbell secured a 2-0 win – although the Cattachs should really have won by a greater margin as they were superior in all departments.
"I'm absolutely delighted with all the boys. I couldn't have asked for more," Mackay said afterwards.
"It was important that we won the game first and foremost but I think the manner in which we won it was most pleasing.
"I thought we controlled it more or less from the start. We feel that we've got the ability in the changing room to do that to teams. It's a case of going out there and actually doing it.
"We've obviously worked the boys really hard in pre-season on fitness and imposing ourselves and I think we showed that really well in both halves.
"Games against Wick are historically really tough and really close but I just felt that if we went out and started the game with a tempo and intensity, winning every header and winning every second ball, then we could stamp our authority on the game. We asked that from the boys at the start of the game and they went out and delivered."
Brora broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time. Paul Brindle fired in a swerving shot which was kept out by Sean McCarthy, but Macleod was on hand to bundle the rebound into the net.
They doubled their lead just before the hour mark with a slick counter-attack. When a Wick free kick came to nothing, Brora raced up the park and Brindle flicked the ball on to Campbell who smashed it past McCarthy.
Former Aberdeen and Caley Thistle number one Ryan Esson turned out as a trialist for Brora, having been drafted in on Friday night to fill in for regular keeper Joe Malin.
Mackay said: "There was a frantic few hours in the Mackay household trying to find a goalkeeper who could come and play for us. Ryan had two really good saves in the first half.
"He's an absolutely top professional with his stature and the way he carries himself. We were thrilled when he said he would come and play for us."
Wick manager Tom McKenna admitted: "Brora were by far the better team. They outfought us and outplayed us – we just weren't at the races. They were head and shoulders above us."
Brora and Wick will meet again at Dudgeon Park later this month, this time in the quarter-finals of the North of Scotland Cup, after convincing away wins for both sides on Wednesday night.
The Cattachs produced another impressive display as they came from behind to beat Clach 4-1 at Grant Street.
Fraser Robertson put Clach ahead from the penalty spot midway through the first half but Brora responded with three goals in a 10-minute spell. Kyle Macleod fired in the equaliser, Craig Campbell scored from close range and Mark Nicolson headed home their third.
Craig Campbell nodded in a Steven Mackay cross in stoppage time to round off the scoring.
Wick also had to come from behind as they defeated Strathspey Thistle 5-1.
Brora face a potentially tough trip to Mosset Park this Saturday to take on a Forres side who came from two down to beat Rothes 3-2 in their midweek cup tie.
Golspie Sutherland meet Invergordon in the first round of North of Scotland Cup at the Recreation Grounds on Saturday (3pm).