It’s taken the better part of this season for Formartine to start delivering the potential their revamped squad promised at the outset.
However, they have at last developed what looks like a winning habit and this, their second encounter with Fort William in a week and the third in a month, showed a level of cohesion and a goal haul that augurs well for the future.
They were never in any danger but Fort are well versed in stubborn resistance and masters of damage limitation. Although Formartine were long odds-on favourites to collect all the points they needed both patience and persistence to do so.
The visitors started brightly enough and Maclellan pursued an over-the-top ball to the edge of the Formartine area to get one-on-one with keeper Kieran McCaffrey. He steadied himself, kept the ball down but fired it wide left of the keeper’s upright.
This eighth minute wake-up call was enough to remind Formartine of the chances they had squandered in their single goal victory at the start of the week.
Fort were aware that to concede a free kick around the edge of the box was to invite the considerable wrath of Bobby Mann. United pressure produced one in exactly that position in the 17th minute. With consummate precision the mighty defender clipped the ball over the wall to dip and swerve its way into the corner of the net furthest from the keeper’s reach.
This was just what Formartine needed to settle them and proceeded to systematically dismantle the dogged resistance of a densely populated Fort defence.
Formartine pressure was relentless and the visitors were reduced to the occasional breakaway.
MacLellan made a determined solo run to carry the ball through the inside right channel to set himself for a good shot at goal from just inside the box. Keeper McCaffrey did well to save the otherwise net-bound effort in the 30th minute.
Formartine hammered away and got the second goal they deserved and again it was the result of a free kick.
This was too far out to be in Bobby Mann territory but it was clear that Formartine had a strategy for this situation too.
With what looked like a well- rehearsed set piece, Callum Bagshaw clipped the ball above defenders to meet the run of Stuart Smith who out-jumped them all to head the ball fiercely home for number two.
Formartine pressure was relentless and they managed to reach easy street on the stroke of half time. Their third did not need a free kick to initiate it.
This time Andy Bagshaw did the honours. Breaking in from the right he drove the ball hard and low past keeper Donaldson.
The game was now beyond the reach of the visitors and the only significant question that remained concerned the margin of victory for the home side.
Fort William are a dogged lot who never roll over and they continued to frustrate their hosts with a large number of players behind the ball whenever Formartine had possession (and this was most of the time). Mathers picked up a knock just under ten minutes into the second half and was replaced by Bailley but the Formartine onslaught continued unabated.
It yielded the odd free kick but it was nearing the middle of the period before another came into Bobby Mann territory. The location was close to that of his previous success and the big question was “could he repeat it?” He did.
Fort clearly knew what the risk was but such is the menace that the big defender carries in such situations, there is precious little that any defence can do about it. Again the strike beat the wall to leave the keeper utterly stranded as the ball clipped his far upright on its way into the net for number four. This takes the defender’s goal tally for the season into double figures and every one of the ten has been the result of his formidable ability with dead balls around the box.
Formartine continued to dominate and Fort to plug away with their damage limitation.
In the 80th minute Barker got through to the Formartine area to bear down on goal. The advancing McCaffrey did just enough to fluster the forward into a hurried and inaccurate shot that was well off target.
His counterpart, Donaldson at the other end was all that stood between his side and a real drubbing as he did well to deny both Bagshaws (before Andy was replaced by Lewis Forbes) and Dan Park.
Teams:Formartine United: McCaffrey, Davidson, Robertson, Mann, Smith, McVittie, C. Bagshaw, a. Bagshaw, Park, Knight, Mathers.
Subs: Bailey, Knight, MacDonald, McKinnon
Fort William: Donaldson, Foggo, Lopez, Martin, Cambell, Maclean, Gillespie, Quigg, MacLellan, Corbett, Grant.
Subs: Voicey, MacDonald, Clark, Wallace