Whitehill WELFARE manager Grant Carnie conceded that Wick Academy deserved to win 3-2 in a fiery William Hill Scottish Cup first-round replay at Ferguson Park.
A Sam MacKay double either side of a Steven Harrison strike edged the Scorries through after Dale O’Hara and Tony Muir twice got Welfare back into it, with Academy also missing a second half penalty.
Carnie believed it was the right result despite a spirited response from his players. “In the last 20 minutes we probably deserved extra time but the rest of the game I would say no,” he admitted. “I felt too many of our players never turned up. It’s important to take our chances, especially at home and we created a few but didn’t so it’s hard. They took their chances in the first half and we didn’t pitch up. Fair play, we stuck at it and got a couple of goals back but it never happened.
“Wick are a good side. They’re well set up. Gary Weir’s the best centre forward I’ve seen at this level. We’ve got two big strong centre backs but he causes mayhem. They got their goals and stayed in front. They got a penalty as well and Bry (Young] saved it and kept us in it and gave us a lift but it’s disappointing we couldn’t take the game to them.”
The start epitomised cup football in that commitment was more evident than quality, with neither side holding back and attempting to suss the other out. Young was the first of the keepers to be called into action, palming away Harrison’s flick.
At the other end, Craig Anderson slipped in Jamie Devlin, whose blushes were spared by the offside flag as he sent the ball sailing over Sean McCarthy’s crossbar.
Wick opened the scoring in spectacular fashion after 20 minutes. MacKay strode forward and let fly from fully 25 yards and Young didn’t have a prayer as the ball flew past him into the top corner. Anderson then tried his luck from distance in hope of a leveller and his left-foot effort flashed not too far wide of the right-hand post. Anderson again went close after collecting Callum Connolly’s pass on his chest but bounced his effort across the face of goal.
The Highland League team deservedly increased their lead three minutes before the break. Harrison showed great feet to skip past two challenges in the box before lashing the ball high past Young from close range. They were afforded the chance to kill the tie from the spot just before hour when Grant Campbell was hauled down after ghosting past Ross Nisbet in the area. Richard Macadie stepped up but Young produced a fine save low to his right to give his side a fighting chance.
Welfare took advantage and halved the deficit on 66 minutes. Tony Muir was bundled over on the edge of the area and Dale O’Hara curled the resulting free-kick past McCarthy into the bottom corner. It didn’t last long as Wick restored their two-goal advantage shortly after. Harrison went down the left before laying off for MacKay, who surged past a challenge before dispatching into the far corner for his second of the day.
Carnie’s side responded again, however, when Muir pulled the ball down after another scramble in the box, turned inside his man and found the bottom corner to set up a frantic last ten minutes. It wasn’t to be though as the visitors survived a couple of late scares to book a second round tie against Nairn County.
Whitehill Welfare: Young, A Martin, O’Hara (Williams 90), Nisbet, Murray, McGlashan, Anderson, Connolly (S Manson 57), Wringe, Devlin (Keane 45), Muir.
Wick Academy: McCarthy, Campbell, G Manson, Farquhar, D MacKay, S MacKay, Pickles, Weir, Macadie, Allan, Harrsion.