Ellon United lost what could be vital points in their league match at Longside last weekend when a controversial penalty decision three minutes from time presented the home side with a 2–1 win.
Referee McLaren has certainly proved to be a bad omen as far as United have been concerned this season. In the three times he has been in charge of United fixtures, he showed red cards to Ellon players in each of the first two games but last Saturday proved even more controversial. United had two goals chalked off, two strong penalty claims ignored and then to cap matters the critical penalty decision near the end occurred at an incident which was clearly outside the box so that any infringement could not possibly have been a penalty.
A pedestrian first half display from United was punished in the 36th minute when a neat one-two cut open the Ellon defence too easily with Walker making them pay. United were much livelier after the interval and deservedly equalized . The visitors squandered chances to go ahead before it took a fine point blank save from Callum Steer to prevent Longside regaining the lead. United were left stunned in the 87th minute when a clash outside the Ellon box saw the Referee point to the spot with Campbell firing home the penalty.
Ellon were first to show with a Paul Leahy cross turned behind under pressure for a corner. Callum Steer had to look lively with an instinctive block to keep out a deflected ricochet and prevent an own goal. Four minutes later the United keeper was forced to parry a Cardno free kick away for a corner. An 18th minute break by Longside ended with Butcher shooting well over then in the 34th minute a promising United move came to nothing when Paul Leahy released Fraser Tait on the left but his cross flew across the face of the goal with no one able to get on the end of it. Two minutes later United found themselves behind when the visitors defence was cut open allowing Walker to coolly apply the finishing touch. United responded quickly with Blair Johnston working his way up the left and finding Paul Leahy whose first time shot was saved by keeper Thomson.
Ellon made a change at half time with Callum Dunbar replacing Calum Annand. United made a positive start to the second half A shot from Fraser Tait was deflected for a corner then Thomson was on hand to deal with a shot from Callum Dunbar. Ellon`s equaliser came in the 55th minute when Fraser Tait released Callum Dunbar up the right and the striker found the far corner from a narrow angle.
A free kick for United in the 60th minute was cleared only as far as Ryan Stewart but Thomson was again equal to the shot. Longside were awarded a free kick from the keeper`s long clearance but the ball was blasted well over. United hit back with Blair Johnston and Callum Dunbar linking up to force a corner. Ellon forced the ball home from the cross only to have a second goal of the afternoon disallowed. Longside almost scored straight away with Calum Steer coming to United`s rescue with great block from point blank range.
United won a free kick in the 69th minute. Callum Dunbar met the cross and headed the ball back into the path of Fraser Tait whose shot was deflected for a corner. Paul Leahy met a corner in the 77th minute but his header drifted over. Two minutes later the Ellon striker met another corner only this time to see his volley fly just over the bar. United kept up the pressure with another corner but the Ellon header drifted harmlessly over as two of the visitors clashed going for the same ball. Two minutes later Callum Dunbar again forced a save from Thomson.
The afternoon caved in on United in the 87th minute with the penalty incident which eventually saw Campbell blast the ball home off the underside of the bar. Keeper Thomson had the final say two minutes into stoppage time with an instinctive close range save when he managed to turn the ball on to the underside of his bar but this time the bounce fell kindly for the defending side and away to safety.
ELLON UNITED: Steer, Bremner, Johnston, Tait, Lawson, Reid, Annand (Dunbar), Whelan, Stewart, Leahy, Morrice Johnson, Allsop, Lamberty, Mathers.
LONGSIDE: Thomson, Whyte, Beedie, Donaldson, S. Davidson, Bruce, Cardno, Walker, Campbell, Butcher, Z. Davidson
United face the toughest of challenges next Saturday with a home tie against Culter in the quarter finals of The Dominos Pizza North Regional Cup. The kick off time at The Meadows is at 2:00pm with the tie going straight to penalties if all square at the end of regulation time.