A fine display by Ellon United saw them run out comfortable 3-1 winners over Hall Russell United in their league match at the Meadows on Saturday.
With Paul Leahy unavailable due to work commitments Ellon were again forced to make defensive changes but Jonathon Millsom had recovered from illness to take alongside Blair Johnston at the centre of the defence with Grant Thomson and Chris Craib continuing in the wide positions and Tony Buckley took over in goal.
The midfield had a more familiar look with Calum Annand, Scott Whelan, Lewis McCauley and Jordan Morrice starting but up front it was a change of strike partners with Ryan Stewart and Callum Tremaine the opening spearhead.
After the teams had settled in over the opening ten minutes Ellon began to take control through some neat passing and good movement whilst the new look defence coped admirably Ellon opened the scoring in the 12th minute with Chris Craib and Jordan Morrice linking up down the left and Jordan Morrice’s final shot helped into the net by a visiting defender.
Hall Russells came close to equalizing two minutes later when they were awarded a free kick on the left at the edge of the Ellon box. The ball was driven low into the goal area and ricocheted off several players forcing Tony Buckley to dive low to his right to claw the ball away.
The ball broke out to Russell’s Hay whose shot flew behind off the outside of the post.
Ellon passed up the chance to increase their lead in the 21st minute through a decision break down the left with Ryan Stewart meeting Jordan Morrice’s cross only to send his header wide.
A second Ellon goal was not delayed for long and two minutes later Ryan Stewart’s reverse pass released Callum Tremaine whose run took him into the box only to be brought down and Jordan Morrice added his second from the spot. Russells won a corner in the 26th minute and the home defence were almost caught out by the near post run and header but the ball flew well over.
The visitors were awarded a free kick on the half hour mark with Hay’s shot flying straight into the arms of Tony Buckley. Russells could have been severely punished in the 34th minute when Simpson took his eye off the ball at a pass back with Callum Tremaine racing in to close down the keeper whose blushes were saved when his complete miskick only resulted in a corner.
Ellon took only three minutes into the second half to add their third goal through a fine header from Ryan Stewart off a cross from Lewis McCauley. The home side looked to have added a fourth on the hour but Callum Tremaine’s effort was cleared off the line.
The Ellon striker then lobbed keeper Simpson in the 71st minute only to see the ball drop over the bar.
Tony Buckley tipped a Stuart free kick over his bar for a Hall Russell corner before Ellon made a double substitution with Fraser Tait and Ryan Rozanski replacing Calum Annand and Scott Whelan who were both on yellow cards. Ellon’s final change saw Neil Erskine replace Ryan Stewart up front.
Hall Russels were awarded a soft spot kick when Grant Thomson was penalised when the Ellon defender had only appeared to be too strong for his opponent but justice was probably done when a great save from Tony Buckley turned Innes’ penalty effort away for a corner.
The visitors did manage to pull back a goal back when a central free kick was knocked forward to Lewis Forbes with his back to goal but the former Ellon striker was able to turn and fire home from the edge of the box. Russells were left with an uphill task to try and pull themselves back into contention over the closing stages when Anderson was red carded.
Ellon United: Buckley, Thomson, Craib, Whelan (Rozanski), Millsom, Johnston, Annand (Tait), McCauley, Stewart (Erskine), Tremaine, Morrice, Kwiatkowski, Johnson.
Hall Russell United Squad: Simpson, Chalmers, Carroll, Milne, Forbes, Inness, Hay, Anderson, Goodwin, Mackie, Gibson, Stuart, Rae, Henderson, Secombes.
Ellon United are in completely new territory next Saturday with a visit to Crosshill in Fife to face Lochore Welfare in a second round tie in the Emirates Scottish Junior Cup.