BUCKIE Thistle got off to the best possible start to a crucial week in their quest to become Highland League champions with a 3-1 victory over Banks O’ Dee.
After losing to Aberdeen on penalties in the cup last weekend, Pukki set the record straight with victory at Spain Park to move within five points of Brechin City at the top of the table.
While Brechin has games in hand, Buckie has a chance to extend that gap to eight points when they take on Brora Rangers – who manager Graeme Stewart also sees as title contenders – on Wednesday night.
“We have seven games left and if we win all of them we win the league,” Stewart said.
“Last season we were chasing and hoping Fraserberg would back off. This season we still have to play Brechin, so he is in our hands and theirs too.
“I think we have the toughest round. We have huge matches coming up and we’ve played six teams in the top 10 in the last seven matches.
“Hopefully we can get the win in Brora, but they are one of the best teams in the league and they still have a chance to win the title if they beat us, with Brechin to play too.
“We showed great character and ability against Banks O’ Dee coming back. We showed what Buckie is all about.
“Now we just have to be free of injuries and carry on.”
Andy MacAskill (2) and Josh Peters scored the goals in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Banks OD after Lachie MacLeod gave the hosts the lead in the third minute.
In the build-up to the game, Stewart Banks criticized OD for her antics – including celebrating a missed penalty in a penalty shoot-out – in their cup win at Victoria Park.
However, after Saturday’s win, Stewart admitted many of his comments came out of frustration.
“Maybe I was a little harsh on them,” he said.
“I was a bit frustrated because it was a game we should have won and the referee’s bad decision to send off our player was costing us.
“I was disappointed with some of their behavior but I shouldn’t have said what I said, especially with playing them in the next game.
“It added stress to the game, which I shouldn’t have done.
“I spoke to the management team after Saturday’s game and apologized, and they accepted.”
Inclement weather means there is still uncertainty over Wednesday night’s clash at Dudgeon Park – but Buckie will need to know if the match gets an early start as they cruise north at 2pm.
If that happens, the game will provide the Jags with a chance to move within 74 points – eight points ahead of Brechin City, who will then have three games in hand.
Pukki will then host Rothes at Victoria Park on Saturday, while Brechin City, whose home game with Brora at the weekend was canceled, travel to Kenosh Park to face Keith.
If Buckie wins the title, Andy MacAskill will have played a huge part.
Stewart added, “He’s one of the best players in the right league, if not the best.
“He’s a big part of our team with his quality, but he puts in a lot of effort, runs as far as his legs will allow him, steps in and comes back and wins by a head.
“There’s more to him than just ability, he’s a true leader.”
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