Close call for Ellon, as Stonehaven edge ahead

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BEN Chapman’s 71st minute goal looked to have taken Ellon United through their North Regional Cup tie at home to Stonehaven last weekend as the match moved into stoppage time, but a dramatic three minutes of overtime saw the visitors rattle the crossbar then grab a last gasp equaliser, sending the tie into a penalty shootout. Stonehaven took full advantage of their late revival to go through 4-3 on spot kicks.

Stonehaven were presented with the chance to take an early lead when Stewart ran on to a slack pass back, but was denied by a fine stop from Ross Buchanan in the United goal. United’s first threat came when Keith Reid out-jumped his marker to nod a long kick out from Ross Buchanan into the path of Scott Paterson, whose tempting cross was knocked away for a corner. Ben Chapman replaced the injured Scott Paterson in the 26th minute, and twelve minutes later almost broke the deadlock, but keeper Smith managed to parry his shot round the post as the scoreline remained blank at the interval.

A mazy run from Ben Chapman in the opening minute of the second half ended with his parting shot slipping just wide of the far post. A minute later, Keith Reid slipped the ball out wide to Ben Chapman, who beat his marker and sent a deep cross which was met by Keith Walker, whose effort was deflected behind for another corner. United found themselves in trouble after the 62nd minute, when they were unable to force the ball clear. The ball fell to Cruickshank, and it took a good save from Ross Buchanan to keep out his shot. United responded with Calum Annand breaking forward then finding Ben Chapman, who cut inside before releasing a shot which was turned behind by keeper Smith for a corner. Ben Chapman met the cross, but this time his header flew over the bar.

Stonehaven passed up a good chance in the 68th minute when they failed to convert a cross which eluded the home defence, The visitors were punished three minutes later when United made the breakthrough. Keith Reid found Ben Chapman, who worked his way into a central area in the box with his final shot taking a deflection which ensured that it beat keeper Smith. The home side almost doubled their lead within a minute, when Keith Reid collected a throw in and sent in a shot on the turn which just dipped below the bar.

The visitors hit back with Ross Buchanan twice forced into saves to keep out shots from Cruickshank at the expense of corners. United might have sealed the tie in the last minute of normal time when David McKeitch met a cross from Keith Walker but his header went wide. With United looking for the final whistle they survived a real scare in the 91st minute when a long range piledriver from substitute Patterson came crashing back off the underside of the bar and stayed out. United were awarded a free kick in the following scramble, but instead of taking advantage of their let-off, they presented Stonehaven with a last gasp opportunity. United carelessly drifted offsides at their free kick, which allowed Stonehaven to throw everyone forward for a free kick of their own in the 93rd minute. The ball fell to Cruickshank, and although Ross Buchanan was able to comfortably block the shot, he was unable to hold onto the ball with Glass reacting quickest to prod home the equalizer from close range with only time to restart before the final whistle.

With Smith saving Keith Walker’s spot kick and Glass firing his over the bar the scoreline stood at 3-3 after the first four set of penalties and when Calum Annand’s kick cannoned back off the bar, Stewart kept his cool to slot home and send Stonehaven through to a 2nd round tie at home to Hermes.

Ellon United: Buchanan, Annand, Gunn, Irvine, Allsop, Paterson (Chapman), Corser, K Reid (McKeitch), Chalmers (McIntosh), Walker. Subs: Clark, Moffat.

Stonehaven: M Smith, Low, Mathieson, Cameron, Gray, Ellis, Nicol, Cruickshank, Stewart, Shand, Glass. Subs: Brooks, Paterson, Will, MacGregor, J Smith, Robertson.

Although they cannot deny that Stonehaven deserved a draw on the day, United must be kicking themselves at the way they allowed the result to slip from their grasp at the bitter end.

United return to the important search for league points next Saturday and face a tricky challenge when Hall Russell United visit the Meadows, KO 2.30pm. The visitors will be in buoyant mood following their win over league leaders Hermes last weekend.

The winning numbers of United’s weekly Lucky Six Draw were 5, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13 and with no one picking the full set the jackpot for next week’s draw will be £1350 with the selection 6 from 13. The winners of the £10 consolation prizes were N Barry, D Duncan and M Kinghorn.