Defensive errors proved costly for Formartine United last Saturday as Wick Academy left North Lodge Park with a 2-1 win.
Its was not a case of Formartine being the poorer side – they had a good 60% plus of possession and territorial advantage.
However they failed, not for the first time this season, to convert pressure into victory against a team which, on paper at least, they were expected to defeat.
The disappointment of the midweek cup exit looked to have been redressed by a fresh looking home starting eleven that saw striker Gethins making an uncharacteristic kick-off, with Lisle and Lawrence also starting after recent games on the bench.
It looked good to begin with as United took the game to Wick.
The new formation with Lawrence out wide offered width, and United moved the ball about encouragingly.
Smith was feeding him regularly and with strong running through the channels by Rodger and Lisle and Park looking to link with Gethins, United set about pressing the visitors firmly into the final third at the Meldrum end.
A ball from the back by McKeown was flipped forward into space in front of the Wick backline, instigating a race between Lisle and Mackay for it. Lisle won that and, riding the subsequent tackle, got one on one with the advancing McCarthy who did just enough to close the gap, forcing him to shoot inches wide of the left post.
That was in the 16th minute and three minutes later, Lisle came close again with a ball slipped into him from the right by Crawford.
The pressure was ramping up and shots by Park, Lisle and Rodger all went close.
United were encamped with their rearguard on the midway line and were winning a succession of unrewarded corners.
Wick had a limited number of breakaways where Allan, MacNab and Campbell all showed that they knew a thing or two about the counter-puncher’s art.
One just after the second Lisle near miss should have been a warning but, utterly against the run of play, Wick stunned United with a blistering counter-attack.
A loose ball from the end of a United attack was picked up and quickly worked by Farquhar past McKeown and on to MacNab who, supported by Campbell, was off at pace through virtually unpopulated United territory. Reaching the corner of the box, he slipped the ball to Campbell who coolly slotted it past Main in the 31st minute.
United’s response was to continue the pressure and they kept the Wick goal under siege for sustained periods.
It looked that the Scorries might retain their lead until the interval, but 90 seconds before it, a cross by Lisle was headed firmly home at the back stick by Gethins who outjumped taller defenders to do so.
The second half was largely similar to the first but Wick looked a bit more confident and built a few more sustained attacks.
United however were the dominant presence until, again vulnerable to the counter, they conceded another soft breakaway goal.
The break was initially through the middle but United had done enough to head off immediate danger with a Kelly block of an attempted through ball to MacNab. This was taken out right by Allan and played over to the back post where MacNab had time and space to skelp the ball past Main for the winner.