Ellon hosted ARI Thistle in an Aberdeen FC Trophy Second Round fixture. On paper this appeared a comfortable fixture but with complacency always a danger, Ellon had to be on their mettle from the start. Again a depleted squad was on view due to work and holiday commitments but the starting eleven was more than capable of getting a result.
Having leaked goals over the last view games manager Willox tried to stem the tide by playing Dempster at sweeper instead of his usual central midfield berth. Craig Smith made a welcome return to the starting eleven after some months away from football and his experience and goal-getting ability was to prove invaluable.
Ellon set of on the front foot with both Smith and Bain having early shooting opportunities. Both chances being created by inventive midfield play by Barrett. ARI did have a shot on goal, but number 8 Fraser blasted over.
Bain and Smith were always dangerous up front for the homesters and a great run and cross by Bain was met 5 yards out by Smith but he knocked the chance over with his less than trusty right peg.
But it did not take him long to make up for the miss as a free kick was awarded 20 yards out on the angle of the box. Smith stepped up to curl a great effort round the wall and into the bottom corner after 14 minutes.
Ellon continued to press for a second with efforts by Thomson and Hamilton going over. Smith was played in again by Barrett but his shot was well saved by keeper Grant. A long ball by keeper Dickinson was well controlled by Bain whose effort was blocked. From the resultant corner Hamilton found Smith lurking a couple of yards and he stabbed home at the near post after 30 minutes
ARI came in to the game more having gone two down and both Fraser and Gardiner had efforts which went narrowly wide but Ellon managed to see out the half two up.
ARI started the second period brightly with Blake playing in Garvie but the chance was passed up. Ellon were forced into a change as a thigh injury to Nicol meant that Longmuir came on at right wingback and he instantly provided a great cross which Bain met but keeper Grant pulled off a great save.
ARI were finding a lot of space in dangerous forward areas and it was no surprise when Gardiner got them back into the game after a great run by Garvie with 10 gone of the half.
Ellon piled forward as they looked to secure victory but were always susceptible to a quick break. Shots by Bain, Hamilton and Smith did not find the target but their worries were eased with 30 minutes of the half gone as Smith was brought down in the area.
He dusted himself down to step up and send the keeper the wrong way from the spot and secure a well deserved hat-trick on his return to the starting line up.
ARI were not finished though and Gardiner broke free of the home defence only to fire wide. This was a warning that the game was still not over. But Ellon sealed the victory with 5 minutes left as another intelligent pass by Barrett found Bain who slotted home. A deserved reward for his non-stop efforts up front and a goal which kept up his record of scoring in every game he has started for Ellon so far.
Ellon deservedly won against an ARI team who will struggle this season. League games will prove far harder propositions that this fixture and Ellon will need to raise their game.
Smith’s hat-trick was a welcome sight after some months out of football due to family commitments and his return may signal a change in league fortunes for the Ellon side.
Ellon’s next fixture is away to Kemnay Youth on the 19th November kick off at 13:30 in the second round of the North of Scotland Cup.
Ellon: Dickinson, Nicol, Wilson, Dempster, Sutherland, McShea, Barrett, Smith, Bain, Hamilton, Thomson
Subs : Longmuir. Wright, Carr