ELLON United crashed to a 3-1 defeat by Deveronside in a match played in atrocious underfoot conditions at Canal Park, Banff, on Saturday.
Controversially, United finished with nine players after accumulating seven cautions, including two double bookings.
With Callum Steer injured, Ellon were able to call on the experienced Tony Buckley to take over in goal. With Jonathon Millsom having undergone a hernia operation earlier in the week, further defensive changes had to be made. Fortunately, Chris Allsop was fit to return.
The early play was confined mainly to the United half, but in the 10th minute Ellon were almost presented with a gift. Keeper Tait was caught out by an awkward back pass and only just recovered to hack the ball off the line.
The home side went ahead in the 16th minute following a corner. The initial cross was headed against the bar but broke out to Lobban to volley home.
Ellon were forced into an early change with Callum Dunbar replacing the injured Paul Leahy.
United gradually began to settle into the game and squared matters in the 28th minute through a well-worked goal, with Scott Whelan feeding Calum Annand whose cross was headed home by Mark Lawson.
Ellon pressure in the 39th minute saw a corner cleared off the line for another corner which was eventually scrambled away.
Deveronside wasted a great chance to regain the lead in a controversial moment just on half-time.
United were caught pressing forward when their attack was broken up by the ball hitting a defender’s arm.The home side broke straight upfield with United’s strong penalty claims waved aside. When the home striker rounded Buckley, he looked certain to score, but the Ellon defence somehow managed to get back to block and clear the danger.
The opening quarter of an hour of the second half was scrappy with neither side coping well with the poor conditions, but disaster struck for United when a completely mishit effort caught out their defence and fell to Deveronside’s Smith who was left with the goal at his mercy.
Keeper Tait came to his side’s rescue four minutes later with a fine save at Willie Mathers’ feet.
United changed their formation in the 72nd minute with Lenny Johnson coming on up front with Chris Allsop being sacrificed at the back. The move almost paid early dividends when Calum Annand’s volley flew over the bar after neat work on United’s left had set up the opening.
In the 81st minute, referee McLaren did nothing to improve his popularity with the Ellon contingent when he reduced the visitors to 10 men by giving Fraser Tait a second caution, followed by much worse five minutes later.
The United defence broke up a Deveronside attack with the referee, who was well up with the play seeing nothing wrong, only for his assistant to raise his flag.
After consulting with him the referee cautioned Steven Reid and send him off for his second booking and awarded a penalty. This came despite the United defender not being involved in any incident and protests from both sets of players.
After the furore had died down, McLeay stepped up to drill home the spot kick, the fourth penalty awarded against Ellon in their last three games.
Teams: Ellon United: Buckley, Reid, Johnson, Tait, Allsop (Johnson), Lawson, Annand, Whelan, Stewart, Leahy ( Dunbar). Mathers, Morrice, Lamberty, Bremner.
Deveronside: Tait, Charles, King, Flett, Milne, Legge, Kerr, McLeay, Smith, Lobban, Davidson, Thompson, Walker, W Murdo, G Murdo, Phillip.
United have a rest from league duty this Saturday with the visit of Dyce to The Meadows for a 1st round tie in the McBookies.comMcLeman Cup. The kick off is at 1.30pm.