THE highly anticipated match up between league leaders Brora Rangers and Formartine United ended with 2-0 victory for Brora, who are now only a victory away from the title.
There was everything to play for, a large crowd, hazy sunlight and little in the way of wind all contributed a potential cracker of a match.
The game, in its way lived up to the billing. It was always going to be about grit and determination, blood and guts more than silky soccer.
Over the first fifteen minutes or so Formartine seemed, just, to have the better of the midfield exchanges and were able to conduct rather more of them in Brora territory than in their own.
A bit of miscommunication between McVitie and Jeffrey, was enough to show the predatory danger of Zander Sutherland who nipped in to pinch the ball and get one on one with Shearer. The big keeper did just enough to flummox the wee forward into a hastily struck shot wide of his right upright.
The goalless half time score was probably fair reflection of a period where Formartine shaded the earlier stages and Brora the latter.
The grim midfield battle continued: Anderson, Clark, Bagshaw and Munro were impeccable – they never really put a foot wrong between them, but for all that, they still struggled for penetration.
The impetus was with Brora and it was enough to turn the game. They began to find slightly more space in which to operate and soon racked up a 9-4 lead in corners.
The ball was worked through the right back space vacated by the injured McVitie with a chip from Gillespie to SUTHERLAND, who jinked into the box and made enough of an angle from which to deliver a fierce left to right drive that flew past Shearer into the far corner of the net.
Formartine had 14 minutes left in which to equalise but in order to do so they would have to gamble, and they did. A Dingwall move, this time with sub Mathers nearly caught out the Brora defence but the final ball just crept past the far post with the keeper apparently beaten.
In the 85th minute Formartine came close to equalising. Mathers and Dingwall combined well to dink the ball into the path of McKeown whose shot trundled just wide right.. Two minutes later, it was all over. In a joust at the edge of the box between Ross and McKeown the big defender seemed to get too close to the midfielder and found the ball between rather than in front of his feet. ROSS cashed in, nicked the ball rolled off the defender drew the keeper and banged the ball home.
Brora have champions writ large over every aspect of their performance. Formartine ran them close, but not quite close enough. Luck didn’t go their way but even if it had ,Bora it must be said looked, however slightly, the better side.
Brora Rangers: Malin, Hynd, Williamson, Tokely, Munro, Morrison, Ross, Gillespie, Sutherland MacKay, Greig.
Subs: Watt, MacKay, MacLean, Watson, Allan
Formartine United: Shearer, Munro, Smith, McKeown, Jeffrey, Anderson, Clark, McVitie, Keith, Park, Bagshaw. Subs. Dingwall, Mathers, Davidson, Calder.