Elgin City loan man Darryl McHardy nets brilliant winner in Rothes' late win against Strathspey Thistle
DARRYL McHardy scored a glorious winning goal in his home debut for loan club Rothes.
The Elgin City defender smashed the ball into the top corner in stoppage time to seal a 3-2 win over Strathspey Thistle for the MacKessack Park side.
McHardy said it was a much-needed tonic for him after the difficulty he faced in making his shock loan move from Elgin last month.
“I’m absolutely buzzing, especially with everything that’s going on,” he said.
“I knew myself, in my own ability that I can get goals from any crosses and I had four of five chances to get one today.
“I knew if we just kept going it would come, and as soon as the ball dropped for me I felt I would score.”
McHardy’s winner was cruel on Strathspey, who upset the form book by twice taking the lead in the closing 20 minutes before losing out in a thrilling finale.
Rothes boss Ross Jack praised the Grantown side for their determination but said their time-wasting tactics may have cost them in the end.
“Fair play to Strathspey as they made things very difficult for us and worked hard,” he said.
“But thank goodness they wasted time because it allowed us to get that extra goal in the final minute.
“We were not at our best by a long shot but we really had to dig deep and that’s all you can ask.
“It was a great goal by Darryl. He smashed it into the top corner and I’m delighted for him.”
Strathspey handed a debut to former Rothes striker Kris Duncan, who was recently released by Lossiemouth.
The Jags gave as good as they got with James Fraser twice missing opportunities, while McHardy playing in a midfield role for Rothes was a danger at setpieces and looked Rothes’ best bet for a goal.
On a difficult Mackessack Park surface both teams struggled to find their passes but Rothes needed a goal-line clearance by Ryan McRitchie to deny the visitors a goal early in the second half.
Jack put on three subs by the halfway mark of the second half but it was a Strathspey substitute who opened the scoring, Liam Taylor nodding home Scott Morrison’sa free kick on 74 minutes for his 11th goal of the season.
That stung the home side into action and they levelled four minutes later. Centre back Bruce Milne forced home from six yards after Ally MacKenzie played an Alan Pollock free kick across goal.
The goals kept coming, with Andrew Hardwick quickly nodding Jags back into the lead only for MacKenzie to equalise with a volley from a Pollock corner.
Rothes were on top in the last ten minutes but time was running out when a stoppage time corner was partially cleared and McHardy pounced with a terrific left foot blast high into the net to steal all three points for the Moray side.
Brora Rangers went 11 points clear at the top with a 4-0 win over nearest rivals Inverurie Locos.
League table P W D L F A Pts
Brora Rangers 22 20 0 2 82 10 60
Fraserburgh 20 15 4 1 67 20 49
Inverurie Locos 23 16 1 6 69 33 49
Rothes 21 15 2 4 48 20 47
Buckie Thistle 20 15 0 5 55 30 45
Nairn County 21 12 3 6 39 35 39
Forres Mechanics 24 11 3 10 60 45 36
Formartine United 19 11 2 6 48 19 35
Wick Academy 24 9 5 10 37 43 32
Keith 23 9 4 10 43 55 31
Deveronvale 24 8 4 12 39 50 28
Huntly 23 5 6 12 30 57 21
Strathspey Thistle 18 5 1 12 25 42 16
Turriff United 24 4 3 17 30 80 15
Clachnacuddin 24 3 4 17 23 54 13
Lossiemouth 24 3 1 20 16 78 10
Fort William 16 2 1 13 15 55 7
Buckie Thistle overcame an early shock to beat Turriff United 4-1.
The visitors had keeper Fraser Hobday sent off in the fourth minute, forcing 16-year-old new signing Tim Findlay to take over between the sticks.
Turriff’s ten men then took the lead through an error by home keeper Lee Herbert to gift Gavin Elphinstonme a goal.
Local teenager Marcus Goodall quickly levelled for Buckie, who had to wait until well into the second half to make their numerical advantage count as two goals by Scott Adams and a 30-yard cracker from Goodall saw them home.
Forres Mechanics were 3-2 winners at Clach on Friday night.
Clach scored first before Owen Paterson and Graham Fraser gave the visitors the lead, and after Clach levelled it was James Ross who grabbed Forres’ second half winner.
Deveronvale were surprisingly held to a 2-2 draw at home to bottom side Fort William.
Two Ryan Sargent goals had Vale two-up before they had Kyle Gauld sent off, and Fort came back with two goals in the final 17 minutes for a draw.
That result was bad news for second-bottom Lossiemouth, who lost 4-1 at Formartine United.
The Coasters, with new signing Kyle Willis in their side, were 3-0 down at the break before Ross Elliott grabbed their only goal.
Huntly dented Fraserburgh’s title hopes in a 2-2 draw at Christie Park.
The Black and Golds twice led through Kai Ross and Nathan Meres goals while Broch levelled through Willie West and Gary Harris.
Huntly had Alex Thoirs sent off with Fraserburgh’s Paul Campbell also dismissed in the final minute.
The Wick Academy v Nairn County match was postponed.