If ever Formartine had a hope of breaking their singularly undistinguished duck against the champions, this might have been it. Formartine came to the match on the back of a couple of decent winning performances to face a Buckie side who had stuttered of late and gone 5 games without a win. As far as selection was concerned, both managers’ hands were tied by injury and suspension limitations with Formartine’s tight squad being pushed to its limits.
The opening phases were spirited rather than fluent with passes going frequently astray. Midfield was frequently spurned as both sides relied on long balls to progress from back to front. This end to end stuff was not without its attractions as far as excitement was concerned but silky foot ball it certainly was not. The first serious attempt on goal came Formartine’s way and inevitably it had something of the route one approach to it. A prodigious punt up the park was chested down by Mackay a bout twenty five yards out. He brought the ball quickly under control and slipped it seven or eight yards to his right into the path of Singer who let fly with a ferocious drive that Main struggled to contain. As the ball rebounded from his chest Macaulay was onto it in a flash but with the goal at his mercy, contrived to head it over the top. Formartine were at this stage, 12 minutes in, giving as good as they got. However the Buckie front pair of Charlesworth and Scott always looked like being a handful for Formartine’s central defence where Darren McGuinness was making a return after 18 months out following injury in his club’s first ever SHFL home game. However it was his partner, Mark Simpson who was the first to fall prey to them. In the twenty third minute, “Biscuits” Scott ran at pace through the inside right channel, managed to ride Simpson’s challenge and take the ball into space behind him. From a tightish angle he tried to lob keeper Gray who was little more than a yard or two off his line. The shot was well enough judged to get beyond the keeper but rebounded from the cross bar as far as the advancing CHARLESWORTH. With only McGuinness on the goal line to beat, he Simply lashed the ball into the far corner of the net for a 24th minute opener.
Formartine sought to reverse their fortunes but the tactic of using Smith as a target man [that had been successful against Turriff] was of limited effect against the champions who kept the former ‘Vale man pretty well shackled and the end to end pattern continued. Formartine forced a number of unrewarded corners but also came near to going further behind when a miskicked clearance from keeper Gray cannoned goalwards off the rump of Brown, and flew just over the top. A mazy run by Macaulay saw him progress fifty yards before being dispossessed by a shrewedly judged tackle by MacKinnon.
Twisting and turning to make space to squeeze in a shot, Mackay, who is not noted as a diver, went down inside the area but penalty claims were waved aside and the remaining five or six minutes of the half proceeded without significant incident.
In the second, Formartine were first to show and forced a couple of corners. Stephen was fast and tricky but generally prevented from getting the ball into the box. This opening flurry lasted a minute or two before in the 48th when Charlesworth turned McGuinness and squeezed past Simpson to get in a fierce shot from near the penalty spot. Gray was fit for it and pulled off a good diving save. Again the end to end football persisted but as time went on Buckie looked the more likely to score. Shots by Scott and Charlesworth were not far off target while Formartine were struggling to penetrate the final third of Buckie territory. Another mazy run from Macaulay was ended with his being crowded out and a Singer got in an accurate but insipid header from a Stephen cross following good work on the flank by the latter.
Buckie got into their comfort zone after going further ahead in the 70th minute. Scott had been a source of utter pestilence to McGuinness and as the defender was harried by the attentions of Charlesworth into a hasty pass back. Gray was struggling to get to it at the edge of the box. Biscuits was right in there and drove the ball fiercely goalwards but the ball rebounded off the keeper and such was the force of the shot, the rebound reached BROWN who was forty or more yards out hoisted a spectacular lob high into the night sky. The ball landed behind the keeper, bounced once and went into the net.
Buckie know how to hold onto a lead and after a couple of substitutions, sat back a little more than they had done earlier. This allowed Formartine to gain some territorial advantage, but still they struggled to penetrate the final third. Brown and Mackay huffed and puffed but were generally well contained. The supply they got was scrappy and the home back four were quick to close them down on the occasions when they did get the ball.
Formartine could not really be faulted for the effort they put into the game, but it was also clear that Buckie were almost, but not quite, across the board a fitter side and as the game progressed towards its conclusion, Formartine struggled for pace, accuracy and touch all of which are by products of background fitness. In the circumstances it was going to take a couple of large slices of luck for Formartine to turn things around. You make your luck but Formartine were not in a position to do so any more than the fates were disposed to give them a couple breaks and the game drifted to a conclusion. The result was a fair enough one but the signs of recovery from a long slump are there for Formartine: this was a fairly spirited and determined one and augurs well for next season.
Buckie: Main, Shewan, Munro, Brown,Mackinnon, Morrison, Napier, Clark, Charlesworth, Scott. Macrae, Subs Low, MacMillan, Duncan, Wood Strong.
Formartine. Gray, Graham, Gardiner Simpson, McGuinness, Urquhart,Stephen, Singer, Mackay,Smith, MacAulay
Subs: MacTavish,Johnston,Galley, Knight,Milne