Formartine United cruised to a 4-0 win over bottom club Fort William at a windswept North Lodge Park on Saturday.
Two goals within a minute in the first half effectively killed off the game and the victory put United level at the top with Brora Rangers, whose match at Buckie was abandoned due to the gales. The Sutherland side have two games in hand.
This was a game in which Formartine maintained huge superiority in terms of possession and territory – highlighted by Fort failing to gain a solitary corner kick or a significant shot on target.
But comfortable though the victory may have been, there was also a degree of frustration in the home support that their side achieved the three points without getting into top gear for any length of time.
The absence of Cammy Keith was always going place some restriction on Formartine’s fire power but a front pairing of Ewen and Park, which yielded a huge haul of goals last season, is still enough to threaten any team in the league.
United opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when captain Craig McKeown hammered a free kick beyond the defensive wall and the reach of Donaldson.
It was 2-0 within a minute. Formartine gained possession from the restart and Park hit a low drive which the keeper blocked but the ever-alert Mike Ewen reacted first to net from close range.
Those who expected the floodgates to open misjudged the doggedness of Fort, who simply continued their backs to the wall resistance.
This paid off to the extent that they conceded only one more goal in the first half which came just before the interval. Munro broke down the right and swung the ball across the visiting back line for Dan Park who released a sizzling fifteen yarder that left Donaldson rooted to the spot.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were fairly even but Formartine added a fourth goal in the 67th minute.
It was Park again on target when he drove through a ruck of players into the net, the ball appearing to take a deflection.
Formartine United: Shearer, Munro, Smith, McKeown, Campbell, Clark, Park, McVitie, Bagshaw, Ewen, Hamill. Substitutes: Napier, Jeffrey, Davidson, Doak.
Fort William: Donaldson, Buchan, Murphy, Foggo, Martin, Gillespie, McKay, Farquhar, McLellan, Millar, McIntosh. Substitutes: MacDonald, Tott, Trialist, Lewandowski