Six more Saturdays are about to be an exciting Highland League title chase.
Bucky Thistle extended their lead at the top to eight points with a decisive 2-0 win over Brora Rangers on Wednesday night.
Closest rivals Brechin City, who are desperate to get back into the FA Women’s ranks after two seasons in the lower leagues, have three games in hand to try and bridge the points gap.
Buckie looks like the favorite at the moment, with points in the bag and a more favorable finish on the front of matches.
The bottom line is that both clubs know that if they win all of their remaining matches, they will secure the title.
That’s because they are scheduled to meet on the final day of the regulation season on Saturday, April 22nd at the Jags’ Victoria Park.
The Jags only have six games left, four of which are at home where they’ve only dropped two points all season.
Graeme Stewart’s side have likely faced their two toughest matches in the past, with home matches against Formartine United and Brechin to wrap things up.
Before then, Brechin’s quest to catch up would face three difficult hurdles.
The Tayside side must play two-time reigning champions, both at mid-week dates, as well as a potentially tough game at home to Brora.
Buckie also has form on their side. They are unbeaten in their last 13 league games, winning 12 of them.
The Jags’ trajectory bears similarities to their impressive finish last season, although they won 24 and drew one of their last 25 games, they were still ahead of the Fraserburgh pennant.
Fraserburgh’s loss was Bucky’s second of the season after losing 1-0 in Brechin on 20 August. They were also drawn at home against Banks OD in October and at Huntley in January.
Brechin started the season as a runaway train, winning all of their opening eight league matches before a home draw with Huntly on 5 October saw them drop their first points, ending a streak of 19 consecutive league victories dating back to the previous period.
They went on to win the next six, then came back from 3-0 down to tie 4-4 with Banks O’ Dee on December 23.
The Glebe Park men went a full calendar year unbeaten in the Football League, although they surprisingly went back goalless at Nairn County on 11 February.
That began a sticky spell for Andy Kirk’s men, who after a 34-game unbeaten league run – the equivalent of a full league season – lost 2-0 at Formartine United on 22 February – one year and ten days since their last league loss to Buckie.
Even then, needing a last-minute goal, Brechin took three points at Huntley in their last league game, League Cup semi-final loss at Inverurie Locos.
Momentum is with Buckie, and Brechin will need to dig deep and handle the pressure the same way Fraserburgh did last year to fend off the Jags’ incredible rush if they are to take the championship to the final day.
Most Highland League neutrals hope this will be the case and that the April 22nd meeting between the two powerhouses will decide the fate of the League Cup.
Jags and City remaining matches:
Saturday 18 March: Bucky Thistle vs. The Rothes; Keith vs Brechin City
Wednesday, March 22: Brechin v. Nairn County
Saturday 25 March: Brechin City vs Wake Academy. Bucky Thistle vs Nairn County
Wednesday, March 29: Fraserburg vs Brechin City
Saturday, April 1: Brechin City – Torref United. Forres Mechanics vs. Buckie Thistle
Wednesday, April 5: Brechin City vs Brora Rangers
Saturday, April 8: Strathby Thistle vs Bucky Thistle
Wednesday, April 12: Brechin City – Fraserburgh
Saturday, April 15: Bucky Thistle – Formartine United. Kalashnikov vs Brechin City
Saturday, April 22: Bucky Thistle vs Brechin City
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