This single goal victory at Rothes arrested a recent decline on Formartine’s part.
Without it, the likelihood of free-fall into the nether regions of the league was a genuine, fully founded fear for the North Lodge faithful but the manner in which it was achieved, left them with hope more than conviction about better things to come.
Formartine started brightly enough moving the ball briskly from back to front and showing that they were able to stretch their hosts with superior pace down the left where Marc Young visibly had the legs on Grant.
Formartine’s front pair of Mackay and Stephen demonstrated both trickery and persistence but still found themselves with limited space in which to operate. Their first chance came after 16 minutes when Young, having out-paced Grant, tried an acutely angled drive that Horne spilled almost at the feet of Mackay who took a hasty skelp at the ball that flew safely past the keeper’s left upright.
The pattern resumed with Rothes showing some capacity to break forward in numbers.
The balance of play and possession lay with Formartine and they opened their account in the 24th minute. Cumming slipped the ball forward to Davidson who clipped it through the inside right channel to Stephen. He took out both Bowie and Fraser as he jinked out to the right corner from where his precisely delivered, driven cross went straight to the head of the advancing Mackay. The ensuing text book header screamed past the advancing keeper and into the opposite corner of the net.
Formartine adjusted well to the loss of centre half Simpson who limped off to be replaced by Gardiner and normal service was resumed.
The next two chances went Rothes’ way. In the 27th minute they won a corner on the right. More hit it deep to the back stick where Massie rose unchallenged. The header was a decent one but Soutar made an excellent finger -tip save to touch it over the top for an unrewarded corner.
This seemed to energise Rothes and for the remainder of the first half, they more or less gave as good as they got.
The interval came and went and the home side resumed with a fair sense of purpose although Formartine looked slightly the slicker outfit. Again they dominated possession but again they created few clear-cut chances.
Comfort came the visitors’ way with a second goal. Mackay, closely guarded by a pair of defenders, still managed to squeeze a corner out of the encounter. Stephen hit this with consummate precision to the head of Smith who rose majestically clear of the defence to head the ball fiercely into the top right corner of the net.
The final 15 minutes saw Rothes more than matching their visitors for effort and ambition and their hopes were raised late on with a comfort counter. A free kick about 35 yards out was driven diagonally across the box to sub Fletcher who headed it against the post. Massie was first to react and slipped the ball well beyond the reach of Soutar and into the net.
Formartine will be relieved to come away from what was potentially a huge banana – skin of a match with all three points. It secures their position in the top half of the league and reverses what was a worrying run of defeats.
Formartine United: Soutar, Cumming, Graham,
Urquhart, Simpson, Hannah, Davidson, Smith, Mackay, Stephen, Young. Subs:
Gardiner, Tait, Singer, McTavish, Galley.