The incessant alternation of rain, sleet and snow which had prompted feverish pre-match forking of the pitch to allow the game to proceed could have been little help to new manager, Steve Paterson’s primary task of appraising the squad of players he has inherited since his formal installation at North Lodge the day before.
The effects of weather on playing surface meant that it quite simply wasn’t a day for playing football. He would have concluded that there was effort and endeavour a-plenty but the quagmire conditions made touch and other finer points of play difficult to identify.
The result was encouraging but despite a period of utter dominance in the first half, his squad were unable, to press home their advantage in the second and finished on the back foot as an apparently fitter [and probably younger] Lossie side battled gamely to salvage something from their visit.
Lossie started well enough and initially had Formartine hemmed into their own half for the first few minutes. Bagley and Matheson had some pace about them but for all they tried, the home rearguard was, although stretched at times, fit for them.
Between the tenth and 12th minutes Lossie really should have got their noses in front. Sustaining pressure on the home defence, Bagley kept his feet after his shimmy did enough to cause a Gardiner slip that let the wide man in for two bites of the cherry.
The first, a crisply struck shot from around 15 yards out rebounded from Gray’s left upright and came straight back to him. With the keeper stranded, he skelped the ball towards the other side of the goal and it was on target too. Full back Graham somehow got a boot to it to clear.
A minute later after a Lossie corner, a series of shots were blocked on or dangerously close to the goal line before a frustrated skelp at the ball from over 25 yards out by Urquhart went well over the top and returned possession to a relieved Formartine.
Formartine gradually began to impose and despite the slippery conditions, increased their attack rate and established advantage territorial advantage.
The Formartine pressure continued and increased. A drive from the edge of the area by Mackay after being slipped a cute through ball by Davidson went high and wide, Stephen dragged one from a similar position just past McConnachie’s left upright.
The resulting goal kick was sliced forward less than 40 yards and instantly seized upon by Mackay.
He chipped the ball forward- right to Singer. The winger was perhaps just too keen to steady himself and take aim and dwelt just long enough before releasing his shot for Sim and Urquart to get goal-side and effect a block on it when it did come.
Formartine pressure was coming in waves with Singer and Stephen playing either side of the rampaging Mackay and had underfoot conditions been more reliable, they would probably have scored before the 32nd minute.
Stephen had tried a rather speculative shot that was turned round the corner by the keeper. Taking the corner himself, he hit it deep and dipping and enough to cause consternation in the visiting defence. It was half cleared, but only as far as Cumming who was lurking just off the initial action. He struck it low and hard through a ruck of players straight to the back of the net.
The single goal advantage was doubled a minute later and given his rake of goals in recent weeks it was almost inevitable that the next one would be by MacKay.
Singer had forced his way 30 or more yards down the right before picking out Mackay whose header hit the keeper’s left upright and spun back to him.
At the second time of asking he headed firmly home for his third goal in his two games in the same week.
Formartine were in the driving seat and Lossie attacks were by now as frequent and fertile as the droppings of a rocking horse. To their credit, though they dug in at the back and held on, albeit rather grimly until the interval.
They introduced new signing Wardrop at half time but the early part of he second period was little more than a continuation of the dominance that Formartine had evidenced in the first.
Seizing on a slip by Bell, Stephen found himself in on goal about 20 yards out. His hard, low shot produced the save of the game as McConnachie dived full length to his left to deny him.
This was just about as close as Formartine got in the second half and as time went on, Lossie clawed their way back into having better possession and started to push Formartine back.
However the home side who had successfully held out with ten men against a Turriff onslaught in midweek, knew what to do.
Well organised and encouraged by Simpson, they held a defensive line which for the most part was ahead of the 18-yard line and kept things simple. Now and again they would pass it about at the back, but generally they defended in the traditional manner and confined the Lossie lads to shots from distance.
Keeper Gray will have many far busier afternoons and for all that Lossie had the edge in possession there mustered few shots on target allowing Patterson’s new charges to offer him not only a decent victory in very difficult conditions but a clean sheet into the bargain.
Numbers for week ending March 14 were 5, 8, 9, 15, 18 and 19. Next week’s draw from numbers 1-20, Jackpot £1500. The £25 draw winner was G Pickard, c/o A Graham.
FORMARTINE UTD: Gray, Graham, Gardiner, Urquhart, Simpson, Cumming, Singer, McCaulay, McKay, Stephen, Davidson.