Published: 10/05/2014 19:22 - Updated: 14/05/2014 14:37

Penalty agony for Buckie Thistle

Written byChris Saunderson

Buckie Thistle 3, Clach 3 (Clach won 4-3 on penalties)

A THRILLING Highland League Cup final ended in agony for Buckie Thistle who endured the pain of losing on penalties at Kynoch Park.

Liam Baxter scores for Buckie in the shootout. Photo by Daniel Forsyth.
Liam Baxter scores for Buckie in the shootout. Photo by Daniel Forsyth.

There was joy for the Clach faithful in a crowd of 1,128 as they sealed their first trophy in 10 years.

Skipper Gordon Morrison lifted the Breedon Aggregates-sponsored trophy to spark wild celebrations among the Clach fans.

The Jags had scored twice in the last ten minutes of normal time to take the game into extra-time.

With neither side able to break the deadlock, it was down to a shoot out from 12 yards.

Kevin Main had saved two of three penalties conceded by Buckie in their final league game of the season at Deveronvale, and he continued that rich vein of form when he guessed right and turned away Clach skipper Gordon Morrison's opening kick.

Liam Baxter scored with Buckie's first kick and when Blair Lawrie blasted Clach's second high over the bar, Buckie looked in the  driving seat.

Andy Low stepped up next and saw his effort saved by John Campbell.

Chris Hegarty and Aaron Conway both converted for Buckie, while Andrew Skinner,Michael Finnis and Neil Macdonald were all successful for Clach.

That left Graeme Stewart with the chance to win the cup for Buckie but Campbell produced a great block to send the shoot out into sudden death.

Scott Graham put Clach ahead and when Iain MacRae's penalty was saved by Campbell, that sparked a pitch invasion by the jubilant Inverness supporters.

Clach should have won the game in 90 minutes, leading 2-0 and 3-1 in the second half.

A goalless first half had been dominated by the side from Inverness who were dangerous on the counter attack, however, Buckie came closest to scoring when Donnie Munro's terrific volley hit the crossbar.

Clach took the lead within two minutes of the restart when Paul Brindle outpaced Darren Wood and fired a great shot into the net.

The Lilywhites extended their lead on the hour mark when Shaun Wood tripped Brindle just inside the box and Morrison despatched the penalty beyond Main.

However, within two minutes Buckie were back in the game when Baxter's shot from just outside the box found the net.

Clach looked to have put the game to bed with 20 minutes remaining when Skinner showed great determination to force his way down the right wing and crossed for Brindle to sweep home his second goal of the match.

Just when it looked as if Buckie might be running out of ideas, they gave themselves another lifeline when Low's powerful header from a Conway corner reduced the deficit.

The comeback was complete with five minutes remaining when trickery by sub Stephen Gauld ended with him being clipped in the box by Skinner. Conway cooly slotted home the penalty kick.

Both sides looked tired in extra time and neither side really looked like scoring.

Buckie boss Gary Hake said: "I thought when we got back to 3-3 there was only one team looking to win the game.

"We are gutted and it is not a nice way to lose. Credit goes to the players for the character they showed today which is what we have been about all season.

"At 3-1 down everybody wrote us off, even our own fans wrote us off. I know the belief I have got in the players and I know the players themselves believed they had the ability to turn it round.

"Clach looked tired, especially in extra time and we controlled the game and had chances.

"That's football, you just take it on the chin and move on.

"The lads have got the bravery to step up and take penalties. I am not going to condemn them for missing penalties.

"It was a great occasion and both sets of fans were brilliant and it was a great atmosphere. It must have been a great game to watch and we are just devastated to lose. Congratulations to Clach for winning the trophy."

Andy Low shields the ball from Gordon Morrison. Photo by Daniel Forsyth.
Andy Low shields the ball from Gordon Morrison. Photo by Daniel Forsyth.

Clach took full advantage of being handed a second bite at the cherry in the preliminary round of the competition when Brora, who beat them 3-0, were thrown for fielding an ineligible player.

Clach boss Iain Polworth said: "At 3-1 up you are hoping we had it won. When we missed the first two penalties I was thinking it was not going to be our day.

"It was a learning curve for us at the start of the season and we are delighted to end up with some silverware.

"Brora beat us 3-0 and we could have no complaints about that but because of an irregularity they were thrown out and we had to take our opportunity and we have done that. We had to beat hard teams along the way."

Buckie: Main, S. Wood, D. Wood, Stewart, Mackinnon (MacRae 80), Hegarty, Conway, Munro (K. Gauld 80), Baxter, Low, Angus (S. Gauld 75). Not used: MacMillan, Strong.

Clach: Campbell, Skinner, Finnis, Laing (Dougall 67), McGurk, Mackenzie, Lawrie, Callum (Macdonald 79), Morrison, Graham, Brindle (Grant 75). Not used: Whyte, Khutsishvili.

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