FORMARTINE United ended a run of three defeats with a 2-1 win at Brora Rangers on Saturday. United, who knocked the Dudgoen Park side out of the Scottish Cup, made changes and could have won by a bigger margin.
Formartine began with Park being replaced by Dingwall, and the influential midfield duo of McVitie and Wilson, along with full back Jeffrey, sidelined by injury.
They set out their stall with Callum Bagshaw wearing the number two jersey and awarding a starting berth to Phil McKibben in a defensive midfield role in what was essentially a 3-5-2 formation.
Within the opening minute the visitors were ahead. Craig McKeown intercepted a pass by Martin Maclean intended for Mackay and flighted a ball down the right flank to the overlapping Bagshaw.
Dragging the ball wide he got the better of Kyle Maclean before crossing to Dingwall who had ghosted into the box near the penalty spot. The young forward produced a very astute looping header over keeper Ridgers that dipped just enough to drop under the bar into the net for an opening goal that should have settled his side rather more than it did. Brora worked hard and imposed themselves on the game for the next quarter of an hour, although the best they could muster was a mishit effort by Campbell that went wide of Shearer’s right upright, an attempt by Baxter to turn in a corner that was booted away by Stuart Smith, and a long range dipping effort from Gillespie that Shearer held fairly comfortably.
Formartine, building on the secure foundation from their rearguard, were asking a few questions of their own. The pace of Ewen up front meant that Canadian international and former Caley and Maastricht player Hastings was fully occupied with defensive duties and was never seen as an attacking presence.
The second period began with a flurry from the home sidea although again the level of penetration was limited. They deployed Golabeck in a wide forward left position where he found ample space to receive balls out of defence.
This produced a couple of corners, both on the right, but Golabeck found either Bagshaw or McKeown impeding his capacity to do much with possession.
It was Brora’s best period of the game. Sadly for them it lasted for only about seven minutes before Formartine extended their lead.
McKibben fed Soane who clipped the ball down the inside right channel into the path of Ewen. He turned Hind inside out before cutting in towards goal to rifle a vicious unstoppable drive well beyond the reach of Ridgers.
From that point on it was virtually all Formartine and it was Brora’s turn to demonstrate their defensive mettle. In the face of Webster, Dingwall and Ewen producing some excellent pass and move stuff executed at a very nippy pace, they did well to hold out at only two adrift.
If Formartine have a weakness up front it is the lack of a prolific out-and-out goal scorer to partner Ewen. Although it never looked like they would lose the game the pressure they generated produced enough squandered chances to have won it more comfortably than they did.
This inability to convert pressure into goals came back to haunt them to a limited extent when deep into stoppage time Liam Baxter managed to pull one back for Brora.
Brora Rangers: Ridgers, K.Maclean, Golabeck, Hind, Hastings, M.Maclean, Gillespie, Hart, Campbell, S.Mackay, Baxter.
Subs: Greig, J.Mackay, McLeod, Kerr, Allan.
Formartine United: Shearer, Bagshaw, S.Smith, McKeown, M.Smith, McKibben, Munro, Soane, Dingwall, Ewen, Webster.
Subs. Park, Davidson, McGinlay, Bailey, Campbell.