CHAMPIONS Buckie Thistle have lost more ground in the battle for this year’s Highland League title.
Graeme Stewart’s side slipped six points behind leaders Cove Rangers following their 3-0 defeat away to Brora Rangers on Saturday.
Forres Mechanics returned to winning ways thanks to Alan Pollock’s hat-trick at Strathspey Thistle but there were defeats for Rothes, Keith and Lossiemouth.
Buckie took on one of their title rivals in Brora but for the second year running left Dudgeon Park a beaten side.
Goals by Craig Campbell, Paul Brindle (penalty) and Scott Graham proved too much for Jags, who also had Jay Cheyne sent off with the score at 1-0.
That result dumped Buckie down into eighth spot, with a game in hand against Cove to come for the champs.
Cove won 4-0 at Clach and lead the way by two points from Fraserburgh, who crushed bottom side Fort William 10-0.
Rothes had player assistant Daniel Moore sent off during the first half of their 1-0 defeat at Turriff.
The Speysiders, who introduced new signing Scott Davidson as a substitute, went down to Owen Cairns’ second minute strike.
Pollock’s treble, including two penalty kicks, took Forres to a 3-0 success in Grantown.
Keith were defeated 2-1 away to Nairn with Ryan Robertson’s second half goal proving to be in vain for the Maroons, who crashed to their ninth consecutive defeat.
Lossiemouth led early on at home to Inverurie Locos thanks to an own goal which Locos quickly cancelled out with an equaliser.
Scott Dunn’s first goal since his return to the Coasters drew them level after Inverurie led 2-1 at the break.
However the visitors stepped up a gear in the closing 15 minutes and an Andy Hunter double earned a 4-2 win.
Wick surprised Formartine 3-2 and Deveronvale were 3-1 winners at Huntly.