NEW YEAR GOAL FEAST LIGHTS UP MIKE'S MILESTONE IN STYLE
Brora Rangers 3 Deveronvale 6
Scorers: Baxter 3, Henderson 14, Noble 38, Watt 47, McKenzie 50, Ross 66, Blackball 71, Cowie 81, Mackay 88
Vale took the long road to Sutherland to first-foot Brora Rangers in a cold afternoon of showers and high Westerly winds but came home with all three points in a high scoring encounter marred by the tricky conditions but a decent result for the Banff side all the same.
Although the visitors found themselves a goal down early on they rolled up their sleeves and put in a decent performance, particularly in the second forty-five and thoroughly deserved the points with incredibly all nine goals coming from different scorers.
Scott Henry partnered Leigh Henderson in defence in the absence of the suspended Scott Fraser as the hosts went ahead after just three minutes when a through ball found Liam Baxter splitting the makeshift pairing and the wee striker tucked the ball past the advancing James Blanchard with relative ease.
Efforts from Graeme Watt and Mike McKenzie, playing his 300th game for the Banffers, came to nothing before Steven Ross was denied at the other end by a last ditch challenge from Kyle Rae although the impressive Brora number seven probably should have netted a second for the home side before the Vale right-back could save the day.
A series of corners led to the visitors equalising when Mike McKenzie's deep ball in from the flag found Leigh HENDERSON and he volleyed home from close range at the back stick with the Rangers defence guilty of poor marking.
A mistake from the Cattachs keeper gifted Graeme Watt with a great chance to hit the back of the unguarded net from 25 yards but although the diminutive winger looked to have hit his effort on target the stiff breeze held the ball up and the keeper's blushes were saved by the strong gale blowing down and across Dudgeon Park.
Graeme Watt had another chance soon after but right-back Gordon Findlayson stuck out a vital boot to divert the well-struck volley for a disappointing corner kick after Watty had initially skipped past the full-back.
The wind then took over for a period preventing any flowing football until the Banffers, trying desperately to keep the ball on the deck against the elements, sneaked into the lead, Mike McKenzie's corner from the left was poorly dealt with by the Rangers defence once more and as the ball bobbled around the six-yard box Grant NOBLE poked it home at the second or even third attempt.
Vale made the perfect start to the second period when Mike McKenzie played in Graeme WATT and the wee winger fired low and hard across Sean McCarthy and the ball squirmed under the keeper and into the net.
The points were bagged three minutes later when Michael McKENZIE scored a screamer when the man of the moment simply turned his man before putting his laces through the ball 22-yards out and left McCarthy with no chance as the ball nestled in his top corner. Magnus Barclay and Kris Duncan came close to adding to the Bannffer's tally but both fell short of working the Rangers keeper and as the wind seemed to increase, as if it could, Grant Noble was denied a second of the match by a juggling save from McCarthy.
Brora pulled one back when Liam Baxter and Steven Ross combined well to cut open the Vale defence and Ross was on hand to head home at the back post after his initial effort had been blocked. The home goal led a charmed life minutes later when Mike McKenzie's ball into the box found Leigh Henderson and when his shot was diverted onto the cross bar and although Kris Duncan looked sure to score his effort was blocked and then gathered by the home goalie.
The Banffer's retained their two goal cushion back when Chris BLACKHALL headed a simple fifth from close range off yet another Mike McKenzie assist, the Vale skipper picking out Beano at the front post with his clever corner kick from the left.
Vale's sixth came courtesy of Craig COWIE when he ran at the home defence, played a one-two with Mike McKenzie and fired a low strike into the bottom corner with home keeper Sean McCarthy perhaps a little slow at getting down at his left- hand post.
Alex Macleod had a clear sight of goal but blazed over before Mike McKenzie was thwarted by a fine save by the busy Sean McCarthy which was unfortunate for big Mike who was by far the man of the match and more than deserved a second goal to seal his special day in style. The scoring was complete with two minutes remaining when the Vale defence failed to deal with a corner kick from the right and Danny Mackay was allowed a free header which he duly dispatched home from 4-yards out.
Vale - Blanchard, Rae, Barclay (Adams 65), Henderson, Henry, Cowie (Brown 84), Duncan, *30Blackhall, M McKenzie (cpt), Noble, Watt (R McKenzie 80)
Subs Not Used: Skinner
Brora - McCarthy, Findlayson, Maclean (Kerr 79), Lamont, Golabeck (Cpt), Mackay, *89Ross, Mackintosh, Murray (Moir 56), Macleod, Baxter
Subs Not Used: Smith, J Mackay, Allan
Manager: Andrew Macleod
OFFICIALS - Graham Beaton
Shots On - 5
Shots Off - 4
Headers On - 1
Headers Off - 2
Blocked Efforts - 2
Corners Won - 10
Set Pieces Awarded - 2
Offsides - 2
Approx Attendance - 120
Last Season - 1-2 (Chisholm & R McKenzie)
Ground Condition - Very Heavy
Overhead Conditions - Wet & Breezy
Temperature at KO - 6 deg C
Match Sponsor -