Early ‘gifts’ sink United

The Formartine United squad ready for the new Press and Journal Highland League season.
The Formartine United squad ready for the new Press and Journal Highland League season.

Formartine’s pre-season building up continued with a 3-1 defeat by Linlithgow Rose, Scottish Junior Cup winners in 2007 and 20010.

It was always going to be a big ask of what is effectively a new team for United. In the circumstances they performed really well in patches during the first half and throughout the whole of the second.

Formartine gifted a couple of goals to a well-drilled and very pacy side, allied to the inevitable communication deficits of a team that is still in the making, ensured a home victory that was narrower than the score-line might suggest.

Linlithgow started at a blistering pace and scored within a minute. A corner taken short and quick resulted in confusion in the United box which was seized on with ruthless efficiency by Strickland who forced the ball home from close range.

The visitors tried to settle but danger always lurked in the shape of Manson who had a free role behind the forwards and kept popping up where least expected to produce a string of telling passes to the pacy Hanson and Strickland.

He was at the heart of virtually every threat his team mounted and in the 21st minute he clipped the ball through the inside left channel to Strickland. McEweon and Jaffray looked to have him covered but he managed to get past them and just clear enough to get the ball over to Hanson on his right who lashed it home with a tight angled drive.

The new-look Formartine kept plugging away and gained, marginally, the lion’s share of possession. This was not without a degree of penetration but there was just not quite enough fluency to their finishing. Both Ewen and striking partner Park both did well to get into a number dangerous positions but lacked the kind of cynical composure that comes only from regularly finding the net and snatched at their chances. The fine form of keeper Hay did little to boost their confidence either.

The goal that put the game beyond the visitors reach came in the 32th minute. After some fairly sustained but unrewarded Formartine pressure Gibson played a long ball out of defence to Manson, this time lurking in the old left half area.

Like a well -oiled machine, Rose changed from defence to attack and the midfielder slung the ball thirty yards into the path of Hanson who was scorching forward at a greater pace than any Formartine defender was able to match. He drove in on goal, waited for Shearer to commit before calmly clipping the ball from the left side of the keeper to the other side of the net.

The second half was a different affair entirely and with the experience of three costly blemishes behind them, Formartine began to play with increasing fluency and began to impose themselves on their hosts.

Webster had replaced Munro at the interval and showed quite an appetite for the ball. Where Rose had shown the power of quick direct breakaways in the first half, Formartine revealed an impressive capacity for this in the second.

Their striking pair of Park and Ewen, which does look promising, was beginning to gel. Ewen’s goal in the 57th minute was the result of a well- executed scissors movement between the two which took out both Ovenstone and MacKenzie to let Ewen in one on one with the keeper to slot the ball well beyond the reach of his left hand.

Formartine carved out a number of further chances as the match progressed but a combination of misfortune, over-eagerness and doughty defending kept them at bay.

Their pressure probably merited if not a result, at least some further reduction in the deficit. Twice the ball was hacked off the line and at least another twice they were denied by outstanding saves. They made some excellent chances and it would be unfair to say that they were unable to take them – fate certainly had a hand in the outcome.

The most encouraging aspect of their performance was their refusal to accept defeat- even when three goals adrift they battled on. They looked keen throughout, their fluency increased as the game progressed and once they gain more confidence in the final third, they look a force to be reckoned with.

Teams: Linlithgow Rose: Hay, Gibson, Dunn, MacKenzie, Ovenstone,Tyrrel, Manson, McLennan, Hanson, Strickland, Herd. Subs: Shirra, Smith, Trialist, Trialist

Formartine United: Shearer, Jaffray, Robertson, M. Smith, McEeon, Wilson, ,Munro, McVittie, Ewen, Park, Dingwall. Subs, Anderson, Webster, Mathers, McNellis.