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'I can't believe we got beat' - Deveronvale manager Craig Stewart praises his team and reflects on some controversial moments in Saturday's GHP Builders Merchants Highland League Cup derby defeat to Buckie Thistle

By Craig Christie

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Saturday's League Cup derby defeat against Buckie Thistle was a hard one to take for Deveronvale manager Craig Stewart.

Deveronvale Manager Craig Stewart. ..Picture: Becky Saunderson..
Deveronvale Manager Craig Stewart. ..Picture: Becky Saunderson..

A controversial penalty decision went the way of Jags late in the match, allowing the visitors to get their noses in front on the way to a 3-1 victory.

Stewart hotly disputed the spot kick award and felt Jack Murray's opening goal for Buckie was also debatable.

With Deveronvale third from bottom in the Highland League and Buckie top of the table, a comfortable away success was expected at Princess Royal Park but it didn't turn out that way.

A Murray effort was adjudged to have crossed the line for Buckie's 40th minute opener.

Dane Ballard then levelled with 20 minutes left to set up a grandstand finish to the derby tie.

The crucial moment came on 82 minutes when Buckie's Marcus Goodall and Vale defender Jay Goldie collided on the edge of the penalty area and a spot kick was awarded, much to Stewart's dismay.

Andy MacAskill drilled home the kick, and a last minute Max Barry strike rubbed salt in the home wounds.

"I can’t believe we got beat," said Stewart.

"We’ve given Buckie a fair run for their money and when we got the equaliser I could only see one team winning it.

"Then we’ve come undone to a really poor refereeing decision to give them a penalty that was never a penalty.

"Their boy (Goodall) ran into Jay Goldie, simple as that. Jay stood his ground and the boy knocked it by him and ran into him. Jay was absolutely gutted, he is an honest lad and that was backed up by the players around him.

"He told me there was nothing he could do, he just stood up and the boy ran into him. Jay was waiting for the foul to be given to him, not against him.

"Their first goal was a corner and I thought he was pushed at the back post, then the linesman has given it over the line when we were not sure if it was fully over."

With Vale involved in a battle to stay away from the league lower reaches and possible relegation, Stewart said before Saturday's cup clash that his priority lay with the tussle at the bottom.

The teams meet again on Wednesday night in the Aberdeenshire Shield, though the Vale boss is already planning towards Saturday's league visit to Lossiemouth and the following week's crucial basement battle with Strathspey Thistle.

"As much as I had planned to move the squad about and rest boys, this gives us a bit more to go with (for Wednesday's Buckie game).

"At the same time, staying in the league is more important than an Aberdeenshire Shield if I’m being honest, so I have some thinking to do.

"We don’t want to change everybody, I could call back the loan boys and potentially play all of them and basically play an under-20s team. But I need to have a wee think about it.

"It is still Buckie, a cup tie and a derby and even with us having more than one eye on what is going on in the league we will still go into the game looking to win it. The boys will have taken a bit of confidence from their performance on Saturday.

"There’s not a lot of distance between us and the teams above us so if we could get a few results together, before you know it you are looking very much up the way instead of behind us. It can change the picture and give the players some reward for the performances they are putting in.

"If we hit the level that we reached on Saturday then we’ve got no worries, but the difficulty is hitting that level on a consistent basis."

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