Ellon United’s failure to deal with the poor ground conditions cost them dearly in a 2-0 defeat by Hall Russell United at Denmore on Saturday.
The pitch was soft, sandy and very bumpy and the combination of United’s poor first touch and passing which saw them continuously give the ball to an opponent or send it aimlessly out of play kept handing the initiative to the home side.
Hall Russell United’s overall control was no better but they handled the conditions better by making sure that they cleared their lines and that any big mistakes were not made in critical positions.
This was helped by Ellon giving them too much space at times and Ellon can have no complaints at losing.
There were precious few plus points for Ellon on the day although at least they were able to give Lenny Johnson and Mariusz Kwiatkowski some game time in the second half following their lay offs through injury.
Hall Russell made the early running and it took Ellon six minutes to get a shot off with Lewis McCauley’s effort drifting beyond the far post.
A rare telling ball from Ellon saw Scott McLeod’s low cross run tantalizingly across the face of the goal with no Ellon player alert enough to take advantage.
A minute later Ellon won a free kick with McCauley’s shot flying straight at keeper Croll. Ellon were almost punished in the 12th minute when they were caught napping at a quickly taken free kick but they recovered to deflect the final shot for a corner.
Hall Russell opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Ellon blocked the initial shot but failed to clear their lines and when the ball was knocked wide to Stewart in acres of space and though his shot as tipped on to the post by Tony Buckley, former Ellon striker Lewis Forbes was first to react to bundle the ball over the line.
Three minutes into the second half a shot from Ryan Stewart curled beyond the far post. Ellon made their first charge in the 58th minute with Jordan Morrice replacing McLeod.
Ellon continued to be guilty of making too many basic mistakes and they were punished for this in the 68th minute.
The visitors gave away possession and somehow managed to concede a completely unnecessary corner. The initial low cross was knocked back out with the second effort knocked into the box. Buckley made a fine block to stop the first shot but again the home side were quickest to react with Innes first to the ball to net number two.
Lenny Johnson came on for Chris Craib for Ellon in the 78th minute. An excellent save from Croll saw the Hall Russell keeper tip a good shot from Grant Thomson round his post only for the referee to give a goal kick.
Ellon pushed three men forward for the closing stages with Kwiatkowski returning up front at the expense of defender Chris Allsop. A spell of Ellon pressure forced a series of corners but the pressure was relieved through a wastefullong range shot which flew well over the bar.
Although at least playing with more resolve at the end, it was too little too late from Ellon and they were unable to make a breakthrough.
Ellon United: Buckley, Annand, Johnston, Thomson, Reid, Allsop (Kwiatkowski), McLeod (Morrice), McCauley, Stewart, Tremaine, Craib (Johnson), Erskine.
Hall Russell United: Croll, Russell, Robertson, Whiteford, Carroll, Forbes, Innes, Kay, Goodson, C.Mackie, Morgan, Rae, Simpson, Stewart, A.Simpson, G.Simpson.
Ellon United have a home game on Saturday when they face league leaders Dyce who remain in top spot despite losing out 3-1 to Banks o’Dee last weekend.
It will take a much improved United display if they are to compete against the leaders, although games between the two are usually very tight.
The game at The Meadows kicks off at 1.30pm.