This victory propels Formartine into nose bleed territory at second place in the league, two points behind Wick with two games in hand over them.
The exalted position has been attained entirely on merit and, almost incredibly, on the back of only three home league games so far this season.
The basis of Formartine’s success thus far is simple: at the back, they are mean to the point of parsimony, while up front they score prolifically where principal striker Mike Ewen has already amassed an impressive haul of 17 goals to date.
That was what Keith knew they had to contend with and they set out their stall accordingly with a 4-5-1 formation leaving Cammy Keith ploughing a lone furrow up front. Maintaining a high-ish defensive line, their ploy was to deny supply to the Formartine forwards and compress the play enough to prevent access to the final third and for long enough - all the first half and a bit more - it worked well enough for them.
However, such is the pace and variety of Formartine’s movement throughout the whole team, that trying to contain them in any meaningful sense is a task akin to herding cats.
The Pitmedden side have also developed a bit of a mean streak: once they scent blood they move in for the kill. Thus, on Saturday, for all that Keith kept them at bay for nearly an hour, Formartine ran out winners by a three goal margin.
The margin of this particular victory will rankle with a game, hard-working and well organised Keith team, but wherever Formartine gain the slightest advantage, they exploit it to the full. With a very slight edge at the back, in midfield and up front, they cashed in.
The game started with a lightning break by Keith with their goal machine, Cammy Keith, slipping a perfectly timed through ball to Donaldson who had drifted off his marker near the back stick around ten yards out, but hurriedly scuffed the ball wide of Shearer’s left upright.
The ball was knocked straight back up the park as Munro played in Dingwall, who carried the ball forward and a little wide before playing a well weighted diagonal ball to the head of Mike Ewen, whose crisp header fizzed past the post.
The game had an end to end characteristic to it, and at this stage there was little to choose between the sides although perhaps ominously for Keith, Formartine were winning more than two corners for each one that Keith gained.
They were perhaps just one or two percent sharper overall, although Keith were doing a good job of keeping them at bay.
Callum Bagshaw was beginning to impose himself in midfield, persistently running at opponents with the ball at his feet and every so often getting past one into the bargain. In the 20th minute he outfoxed Lonie and got into the right side of the box before clipping the ball diagonally backwards to the advancing McVitie, whose fizzing drive was beaten away by Kinnaird as far as the recovering Lonie who eventually hoofed it clear.
Formartine were beginning to shade it in all areas by now, but still Keith maintained shape and discipline enough to keep them at bay. They should have gone ahead just after the half hour when Dingwall fresh aired a set up from Ewen, and although Webster got the second ball his finish was hurried and high.
The North Lodgers looked to have got their noses in front with a free kick from Webster not far in from the left corner. The cunning struck shot found the back of the net but ref McNab spotted a shove by Dingwall on Smith and disallowed it in favour of a free for Keith.
The second half began with Formartine pushing their back line a touch further forward than previously, with the effect of compressing the midfield more tightly and allowing them to make increased use of the attacking capabilities of backs Stuart Smith and “Squish” Munro.
This turned up the heat a degree or two further, and paid off in the 55th minute when Munro powered his way down the right flank leaving Lonie floundering in his wake as he worked the ball almost to the corner flag before clipping it back right into the path of Callum BAGSHAW thundering through the inside right channel.
From just inside the area, the young midfielder took the ball on the volley and skelped it viciously shoulder high past the left hand of keeper Kinnaird into the net.
This opened the game out somewhat as Formartine grew in confidence, and Keith set about clawing something back. Formartine were getting the better of things though and made a number of openings down the right flank where Keith struggled to contain the pace and power of Munro, the trickery of Bagshaw and the movement of Ewen and Dingwall. Webster on the left produced a series of dangerous crosses. It was predictable when Formartine extended their lead after another break down the right started again by Munro.
Dingwall took his cut back and played it across to EWEN about ten yards beyond the back stick. The ball looked to be beyond his reach, but with the agility of a gymnast he swivelled in a sort of back flip to get just enough on the ball to force it into the far corner of the net and well beyond the reach of the keeper.
Keith were by no means finished and quickly pulled one back. A run by Andrew MacAskill down the right paid off in that for just once in the game, he got past Stuart Smith. Having done so, he played a perfectly judged long, low ball into the feet of LENNOX who drove the ball home from the edge of the box.
This 79th minute counter reduced the leeway for little more than two minutes, as the ruthless streak in Formartine took over. They do not like to lose any goal and sought both vengeance and to restore their margin. They got it - along with a bit of luck - a long ball from the back by McKeown brought about a bit of a stramash in the Keith goalmouth as Formartine forwards tried to get on the end of it.
Kinnaird seemed to have the situation in hand but spilled the ball, prompting further mayhem on the goal line. MCKIBBEN was the fastest to react, and prodded the ball into the net for his second goal in successive games.
The game was by now beyond Keith, but Formartine were not quite finished with them. A further minute later, and they gained a fourth. Statistically, when Ewen scores, he is more likely to score more than once than finish with a single strike. It was predictable then that he finished the proceedings with a simply struck goal from the edge of the area. He was on the end of a through ball threaded to him by Munro outstripped the defence and as the keeper advanced chose his time and place a slipped the ball into the net off the keeper’s left upright.
This was another good performance by Formartine against a team that almost, but didn’t quite match them in most departments. The Pitmedden side incrementally upped the pressure to exploit their advantages, and eventually ran out comfortable enough winners in an entertaining match.
Their Championship campaign faces a major hurdle with the next game, against leaders Wick away from home. The winner of that one will be strongly placed to enter the crucial Christmas period in the driving seat.
Formartine United: Shearer, Bagshaw, S.Smith, McKeown, M.Smith, McKibben, Munro, McVitie, Dingwall, Ewen, Webster.
Subs: Park, Donald, McGinlay, Robertson, Davidson.
Keith:Kinnaird, Hutcheon, Lonie, MacNamee, Walker, Smith, Anderson, A.MacAskill, C.Keith, Lennox, Donaldson.
Subs:S.Keith, C MacAskill, Jack, Morrison, Horne.