Updated: Aug 4, 2019
This morning was just about perfect for the long journey up to Wick. Something we do once a season and are always happy to do the journey in decent weather. We have to admire the resolve of Wick Academy who face these long journeys every second week or so, and not just on a fine August day.
It was bright, sunny and about 16°C at kick off time and Vale started brightly, playing down the pronounced Harmsworth Park slope and looking threatening on both wings. A welcome early Vale goal came in 7 minutes when a poor kick out by keeper McCarthy ended up falling to Ross Archibald. The keeper could only parry the ball away after Ross’s shot and it fell to Robert Scott who calmly slotted it home for his, and Vale’s, first goal of the season. Vale continued to play well and were looking to increase their lead, however, Wick also played some good football, passing the ball well and creating some problems down Vale’s right-hand side. The scores were levelled in 23 minutes when a fine shot from distance from Sam Mackay beat Grant Pennet to his left. Wick continued to push and had the better of the remaining half of the first half, but the sides went in level at half time.
Wick started well in the second half and an early chance fell to Wick number 7 Craig Gunn in 49 minutes who left Grant Pennet rooted to the spot and put the home side, deservedly, ahead 2-1. It looked at that stage as though Wick would push ahead for further goals and the 3 points but a combination of good defending, some good saves by an alert Grant Pennet and poor shooting meant that the game continued to be tight well into the second half.
Vale saw bookings given out, in quick succession, to Michael Dunn, Robert Scott and captain Ross Aitken. Whilst there are always varying opinions on bookings the one given to Ross Aitken for dissent after protesting a throw in decision was particularly disappointing as the only people in the ground and on the pitch who appeared in doubt that the throw in should have gone to Vale were referee Will Smith and his assistant.
Vale brought on Matty Wallace and Jody Munro in the latter part of the second half, replacing Sam Robertson and Ross Archibald. Matty had an immediate effect, with the quality of his passing giving Vale more of a threat up front. Jody tried hard to get into the game but Wick’s well organised defence minimised the clear chances falling to Vale. The 3 points seemed destined to stay in Wick when referee Smith dismissed Ross Aitken following a second yellow card for an offence that wasn’t clear to the writer or many of the watching spectators. However, Vale kept pushing and in the last-minute Coco managed to beat a couple of defenders and put a powerful shot past keeper McCarthy to secure a point to take down the road to Banff.
An improved performance from last Saturday’s home defeat to Nairn County but still areas where significant improvements are needed. However, it was very encouraging that the team’s tempo and intensity today was improved and there were some good individual performances, notably from Courtney Cooper, Michael Dunn, Ross Aitken and Colin Charlesworth.