Forres Mechanics manager Charlie Rowley took plenty of positives as his side marked their Highland League return with a 1-1 draw against Wick Academy.
The Mosset Park side sat out the 2020-21 campaign due to Covid-19 concerns but returned on Saturday for their first competitive game since beating Fort William 2-1 in March last year.
The Can-Cans looked on course for a winning comeback through Lee Fraser’s opener four minutes before the break but Wick hit a late equaliser through Jack Halliday in the first minute of injury time.
Rowley said: “I think it was 500 days since our last competitive game.
“Everyone was desperate to get back after such a long lay-off.
“It is all about settling down now and trying to get some positive results.
“There is still room for improvement as it was our first game in a long time.
“We were reasonably happy with the draw because we knew it was going to be a tough game between two even teams.
“We managed the game pretty well in the second half and restricted them to only a few chances. We could have got the win at the end but for a good save from their goalkeeper.
“A draw was probably the right result.”
League Table following today's opening games. pic.twitter.com/DlQ3hQbE3y
— Wick Academy FC (@WickAcademyFC) July 24, 2021
Wick Academy boss Gary Manson said: “It was a good game and I think the draw was the least we deserved.
“Their goal came against the run of play and I thought we dominated the vast majority of the second half.
“The second half was more even but overall I was pleased with our display.
“There was a decent crowd and it was a roasting hot day. It was great to see the fans back in the ground and enjoying the football.”
Inverurie Locos 5-0 Clachnacuddin
Inverurie Locos started the season in style to end the day joint top with Buckie Thistle
Locos boss Andy Low was delighted with his side’s 5-0 win against visitors Clach.
He said: “I thought it was a really good performance although it took us about 20 minutes to get going.
“We took complete control after we got our first goal and could have scored more.
“We looked very strong defensively and limited them to very few chances.”
Defender Mark Souter headed home the opener after 25 minutes before left-back Andy Watt doubled the advantage two minutes later.
Kieran Shanks added the third nine minutes into the second period with a powerful finish before Robert Ward side-footed home the fourth.
With a minute to go Ward added a second with a great individual goal started.
Clach boss Jordan MacDonald said: “Locos are a top four or five team but their first two goals were from our mistakes.
“It’s a hard place to come but we gave them a tough afternoon. It wasn’t a 5-0 game.”
Keith 0-2 Nairn County
Nairn County made a winning start to the eagerly anticipated Breedon Highland League season, getting the better of a young Keith side at a hot Kynoch Park thanks to two second half goals.
Strikes from Liam Shewan and Seamus McConaghy pleased Nairn manager Ronnie Sharp.
He said: “Any win in your first game, especially away from home, is always good.
“We have always struggled at Keith so I’m delighted with the victory.
“Both teams played well in the heat, it was a hard game. ”
Keith co-manager Tommy Wilson said: “Over the piece Nairn probably deserved it on a hot day.
“Both teams created chances. We had a great opportunity to make it 1-1, and they went and scored a second.
“It was a disappointing second half performance but we have a lot of new boys in, and trying to gel together.”