Splendid and exciting show

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Seven goals, five goal keepers (four of them Formartine’s), two red cards and a pair of penalties - you would think that this was the Derby that had everything.

It wasn’t and it didn’t.

As theatre this was a splendid and exciting show but as football it was something else entirely.

The loss of three points to a team Formartine came dangerously close to beating with nine men against eleven, even this early in the season, represents a painful blow to title aspirations.

United had the best possible start with a 4th minute opening goal, a move that started deep in their own half by McKeown was played quickly through midfield to Gauld who was off in flash towards the right corner.

From there he whipped over a cross to the back post for his striking partner Gary Wood.

In his eagerness to beat Wood to the ball right back Mitchell got just enough of his boot onto it to deflect it past Mathieson into his own net.

Even this early Formartine were looking the slicker outfit and playing with decent shape and a high tempo, poked and probed for the opening to extend their lead.

This nearly came in the tenth minute from a free kick twenty five yards out and in a fairly central position.

Lawson struck the ball with pure venom but it passed the crossbar a couple of inches high.

In the 16th minute Locos first really sustained attack they equalised.

The ball bobbled around quite dangerously too long and too near the United goalmouth and was not properly cleared after two or three attempts to do so.

Backing off a step or two from the melee, McLean got control of the ball beyond the right upright and from a bit of an angle managed to dink it over Reid and into the net.

Things continued this way for the next fifteen minutes until McLean got behind the Formartine central defence and was heading for the box.

Reid saw the danger and advanced right up to the Locos captain and brought him down with a clumsy and probably illegal tackle twenty yards out of goal.

Despite the range and the rapid reorganisation of other defenders, the youthful ref decreed that the home forward had been illegally denied a clear goal scoring opportunity and red carded the keeper.

Striker Gauld gave way to allow the introduction of sub keeper Anderson whose first act was to retrieve the ball from the net.

Vigurs took the free kick and struck the ball just beyond the wall and directly into the net.

In the 40th minute Broadhurst challenged Wood for the ball in the box and did manage to relieve him of it as the big forward went down.

As referees never contemplate compensating for mistakes at one end by awarding soft penalties at the other, the one that Wood himself drilled past Mathieson was clearly credible and legitimate.

Ten man Formartine, back on level terms, found a rather panicky looking Locos pressing to restore their lead before half time.

The second half began in a nasty, blustery wee rain squall the effect of which was to make underfoot conditions rather slippy.

Locos had clearly taken instruction over the interval and set out with the obvious intent of keeping the ball and twelve minutes in they again drew level.

Leyden out on the left flank floated one in for Bavidge but Crawford read the situation well and blocked the ball away.

Leyden got it again and tried again, this time he found the head of the forward whose fierce downward header rebounded off the goal line and high into the net.

What had thus far been merely dramatic became truly melodramatic in the 61st minute.

Charlesworth on the end of an over the top ball was bearing in on the Formartine goal and had just entered the penalty area and tried to drag the ball right to beat the advancing Anderson.

It was enough to flummox the deputy keeper who tried to stop, but on the slippery surface simply slid on into the forward and brought him down. Another red card and another penalty.

After a bit of head scratching on the Formartine bench, goal keeper 3 (Michie) was promptly substituted by Sam French (keeper 4).

Usually a forward, the big sub did a capable job in keeping a clean sheet from his 4-3 down starting point.

He made one or two competent interventions but amazingly, given the deficit in numbers, had remarkably little to do.

Only a mixture of good fortune and desperate defending on Locos part kept the dogged United at bay as wave upon wave of attack was visited on a beleaguered home rearguard.

Shots from Wood, Rodger, Barbour, McKeown and sub Keith were either cleared with difficulty or rebounded from the woodwork.

Several others went close and Formartine, despite the numerical deficit were desperately unlucky not to gain at least a draw.

Such was the impetus they generated late in the game, success in equalising could well have provided the springboard for a dramatic victory.