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Buckie Thistle manager Graeme Stewart rates Jags win over Formartine United as best of the season and says Andy MacAskill could be Highland League football's best player right now

By Craig Christie

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BUCKIE Thistle manager Graeme Stewart said his team returned to action with their best performance of the season to thump title rivals Formartine United 4-0.

Graeme Stewart, manager of Buckie Thistle FC...Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Graeme Stewart, manager of Buckie Thistle FC...Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

He said Saturday’s success gave him his proudest moment yet in charge of the coast club.

Stewart also rates two-goal hero Andy MacAskill as the best player in the league right now after a stunning display at Victoria Park.

Jags completed an emphatic league double over United, who they crushed 5-1 in Pitmedden back in August, with a statement of intent in their first league outing in five weeks.

Highland League standings
Highland League standings

Sam Urquhart’s early penalty, his 17th goal of the season, gave Buckie the lead before a MacAskill cracker right on half time doubled their lead.

Young attacker Marcus Goodall quickly added a third and MacAskill found the top corner to cap a great individual show from a player regarded as one of the best by his boss.

“Both his goals were outstanding, both outside the box,” Stewart said. “The first one he took on three players and put it in the bottom corner, the second one he hit from 20-25 yards into the top corner with his left foot. It was outstanding.

Buckie Thistle's Andy MacAskill is rated as one of the best players in the Highland League by his manager. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Buckie Thistle's Andy MacAskill is rated as one of the best players in the Highland League by his manager. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

“On form right now he is definitely one of the best players, if not the best player in the Highland League.

“But he wasn’t the only one. I thought Sam Pugh was absolutely outstanding, that was his best game for us this season.

“And last week I watched (Formartine striker) Jonny Smith against Brechin tormenting their back four there, but he didn’t have a sniff against us and had to come off because of the performance of Jack Murray and Sam Morrison.

“Those two centre backs, aged 22 and 21, were absolutely dominant and along with Andrew MacAskill in the centre of midfield they were the spine of the team.”

The Buckie boss was thrilled to see his team scale such heights in their performance in only their second league outing since November 27, with training and matches interrupted by Covid cases in recent weeks.

“Formartine beat Brechin and drew with Brora recently, two teams who will be challenging for the league. So for us to beat them 4-0 was absolutely outstanding, and to be honest it could have been six or seven.

“After having three weeks of Covid problems and virtually no training, just one session for boys coming back, it was probably the proudest I’ve been as a Buckie manager. It was just unbelievable.

“The players have been very professional. We have signed boys who take their football really seriously and that helps. We were sending individual sessions to them and monitoring their Strava readings and they all came back in great shape.”

Buckie have now won ten league matches in a row to move back up to second, and they should make it 11 when bottom club Fort William visit Victoria Park this weekend. But Stewart warned: “They are meant to be training full-time and have brought in some new ideas so you have to treat them with respect.

“These players are not coming up from England unless they are good players so they must have something about them.

“We just have to be professional and if we do what we did against Formartine I think we will win but the Highland League is a league where if you take it easy then you can get found out against any team.”

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