Ellon United started the second half of their league campaign with a 1-0 loss away to Banks o’Dee on the synthetic pitch at Spain Park in one of only two North Junior fixtures which survived last Saturday’s weather, the other being up at Portgordon.
Banks o’Dee were always faster and physically stronger than United and their strong direct style played dividends on their plastic surface, despite their having to play the second half with ten men thanks to a petulant off the ball kick by Cruickshank just before the interval which saw the midfielder shown a straight red card.
Banks o’Dee pressed United from the start and forced a 5th minute corner which they worked on their right with the final cross headed home only to be disallowed as they had strayed offsides. United were being forced to try and hit on the break and in the 13th minute Ryan Stewart found Callum Tremaine who moved the ball onto Chris Craib but he had to run too wide and was forced to cross the ball rather than getting in a direct shot at goal. Ellon’s best hope looked to be from a set piece and midway through the first period Tremaine did well to rise above his markers to meet a free kick from Scott Whelan but his header lacked the power to trouble keeper Smith.
For all the home side’s pressure it looked as if United would take a 35th minute lead when Grant Thomson knocked a free kick back across the six yard box only for the ball to take a horrible bounce over the outstretched leg of Tremaine with the goal gaping and bobble harmlessly behind. Banks o’Dee went ahead two minutes later when their defender Winton was allowed to run on and on unchallenged to reach the edge of the United box and neat Tony Buckley on the deck at his right hand post.
Play was up for a spell in the 38th minute when Calum Annand accidently collided with former United skipper Ross Forsyth as they both went for a ball in midfield with Forsyth just getting there first in front of his former team mate. Annand managed to return after treatment but Forsyth had unfortunately to be replaced.
Ryan Rozanski came out for the seoncd half for United in place of Annand. Despite being down to ten men the home side continued to trouble United with their direct running and long balls. Allan forced his way forward before crossing from the byline with the ball headed behind off the bar for a corner. The home side were almost caught out in the 58th minute when Scott McLeod latched on to a poor kick out from Smith but his long range snapshot drifted wide.
Ten minutes later Smith’s only real save of the afternoon saw him block a shot from Ryan Stewart using his legs to turn the ball behind for a corner. Jordan Morrice replaced Craib for United and took the corner. His cross was only half cleared but United’s follow up shot was blocked. Banks o’Dee broke quickly with Liversedge found out wide and his strong run took him clear only to see his shot crash back off the post. Neil Erskine replaced Whelan for United for the closing stages but the visitors were unable to put Smith’s goal under any great threat and it was Buckley who was forced into a fine save in the 89th minute to turn a shot from Alexander away for a corner.
Ellon United: Buckley, Annand (Rozanski), Johnston, Whelan (Erskine), Millsom, Reid, McLeod, Thomson, Stewart, Tremaine, Craib (Morrice).
Banks o’Dee: Smith, Pressley, Winton, Reid, Forbes, Forsyth, Allan, Cruickshank, Horne, Liversedge, Alexander, Croll, Lyon, McCall, Cameron, Johnston.
United are on their travels again on Saturday, this time with a trip to New Elgin, kick off 1.30pm.
United will have to stand strong against their north rivals and will certainly be looking for an improvement on their last meeting when they were made to suffer from the harsh early sending off of keeper Callum Steer.