Formartine United’s title hopes suffered a setback when they lost 2-0 to Inverurie Locos at Harlaw Park on Saturday.
The Pitmedden side managed only a single point in the festive double-header against their local rivals, who have moved into contention in the championship race.
Formartine started the game without midfield ball winner, Gary Clark, suspended after his red card in the previous encounter. In the end, his absence as well as the circumstances that created it, contributed significantly to their defeat in a game that initially they looked like winning.
The first fifteen minutes or so saw United in determined mode, sustaining a high defensive line and squeezing Locos into their own territory.
However, Locos twice nearly took the lead in the 14th minute through Gauld, whose efforts were ruled out for offside.
Formartine did create chances but failed to take them and paid the penalty in the 29th minute. Leyden ran in on goal, drew keeper Shearer and slipped the ball into the net.
The visitors kept up the pressure but were unable to come up with anything to punish Locos.
They were reduced to 10 men in the 63rd minute when Paul Napier was ordered off for retaliation.
The home side cashed in and it took them only three minutes to extend their lead.
A Bavidge delivery was picked up by McLean who rifled the ball home from the edge of the box through a ruck of players.
There was no way back for United and Locos simply closed them down and set up an even more defensive formation to keep their opponents wide and occasionally teased them on the break.
This was a serious but not necessarily terminal blow to Formartine’s ambitions for the season but, at the moment, they simply don’t look good enough to lift the title.
Inverurie Loco Works: Reid, McLean, Young, Souter, Adams, Anderson, Leyden, Broadhurst, Gauld, Bavidge, Maitland. Substitutes: Mitchell, Still, Hunter, Ross, Mathieson.
Formartine United: Shearer, Munro, Smith, McKeown, Campbell, Napier, Park, McVittie, Leith, Ewen, Hamill. Substiutes: Bagshaw, Jeffrey, Davidson, Doak