BUCKIE Thistle’s season got off to a winning start in the Aberdeenshire Cup – with the help of a thrilling finish.
Supersub Stephen Gauld was Jags’ hero with a late double to clinch a 2-1 win at Cove Rangers on Wednesday, much to the delight of boss Gary Hake.
With several experienced players on the sidelines, Hake called upon his young guns to shoot them to glory and he wasn’t disappointed.
“We played well in the second half and there’s no doubt our young lads tired Cove out in the end,” Hake said.
Cove dominated the first 45 minutes and deservedly led through Blair Yule’s strike.
But it was manager Hake’s three substitutions which helped to turn the contest Buckie’s way.
Young wingers Drew Copeland and Scott Adams, who had run Cove ragged, made way for the more experienced Donnie Munro and Gauld, while seasoned front man Andy Low also entered the fray.
Hake singled out summer signing Jay Cheyne for praise, with the former Caley Thistle midfielder running the show.
Cove had Jamie McAllister sent off but held their lead until the 87th minute when Low crossed for Gauld to head in the leveller.
Extra time was looming but Buckie pushed for a winner and it came when Low slotted in Gauld to smash home a dramatic last-gasp winner.
Jags now visit Keith in the quarter-finals, and will go into their opening Highland League game at Fort William on Saturday with confidence.
The Lochaber men were a bogey side for Buckie last term, drawing with them twice including a 3-3 stalemate at Claggan Park which has stayed in the memory banks of manager Hake.
“It was a game we should have won, but we gave away a sloppy goal at the end,” he recalled. “What our games against Fort have shown is that you simply can’t take them lightly.
“By all accounts they have improved their squad this year so it will be a very tough game for us.
“We will need to be at our best but if we play the way we did in the second half against Cove, I can’t ask for more than that.”
For that Cove game, skipper Lewis Mackinnon, and experienced duo Chris Hegarty and Neil Davidson were all missing. Mackinnon picked up an ankle knock in a friendly and wasn’t risked, but should return on Saturday.
Hegarty will also be available, leaving Davidson as the only absentee.
With their second league game of the season away to Deveronvale next Wednesday, Hake said he may rest one or two from the Cove game and possibly bring back in some experience.
Buckie also hosted a young Aberdeen side on Monday for assistant boss and former skipper Kevin Small’s testimonial match.
The Dons won 1-0 but the night was all about Small and his decade of service to the club.
Former players like Jamie Shewan, Stephen Bruce, Colin Milne, David Angus and Zander Sutherland guested for the Victoria Park side on the night.
Hake said: “He deserved his big night as he’s been a fantastic servant to the club.
“He actually played the first half against a very good Aberdeen side and played exceptionally well. He was quick to tell the lads it was 0-0 when he went off!”
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