Ellon United bounced back from their poor performance against East End to give champions Culter a real fright at Crombie Park on Saturday.
Although United lost 2-1, they felt in the end as if they had been robbed of a share of the points, not by the home side but by some controversial refereeing decisions.
Things looked ominous for United when they conceded a bad early goal but the visitors rallied and apart from a 34th minute shot which hit the post, the home side were unable to make any more impression on the Ellon defence before the break.
Culter might even have reduced to ten men about fifteen minutes in when Mariusz Kwiatkowski appeared to be hauled down as he broke clear but despite his Assistant indicating a free kick, the Referee chose to let play go on.
A 79th minute penalty gave Culter a two goal lead before United snatched a goal back. From then on Ellon looked the likelier to score and in the 90th after an United corner had come off the post and forced home, the visitors were denied the equaliser by a controversial offside decision and Culter held on to their slender lead.
With United facing the blinding sun in the first half the game was only four minutes old when the Ellon defence were caught out by a long high kick out from keeper Duffy and McAllister ran clear of United’s square defenders to drill home the opener. United gradually recovered and Jordan Morrice tried his luck in the 14th minute but his shot was saved by Duffy low down at his near post.
Culter survived their moment of controversy when Kwiatkowski appeared to be pulled back on the edge of the home box then United had a real escape when a shot from Beaton came back off Tony Buckley’s left hand post.
Ellon responded with Callum Tremaine getting on the end of a cross from Blair Johnston but his header lacked the power to trouble Duffy. Two minutes later a free kick from Scott Whelan was headed back into the danger area by Kwiatkowski and met by an Ellon foot only to be kept out by a fine block by Duffy with his outstretched leg.
A 63rd minute shot from Tremaine flew well over before United made a change in the 70th minute when their only fit sub Neil Erskine replaced Kwiatkowski up front.
Two minutes later Ellon were unable to cash in on a dreadful mix up between Duffy and his defenders. Tremaine latched on to the ball on the left but the young striker rushed his cut back towards the goal and it just lacked the pace to carry the ball over the line before a defender recovered to hack it to safety.
United conceded a penalty in the 79th minute with McAllister driving home his second goal from the spot but Ellon were back in contention four minutes later when Tremaine’s shot on the turn flew past Duffy into the far corner.
United threw an extra man forward in the closing stages in their bid to claw back an equalizer and looked to have succeeded in the 90th minute only to be cruelly denied.
Ellon United: Buckley, Millsom, Johnston, Whelan, Leahy, Reid, Morrice, Craib, Kwiatkowski (Erskine), Tremaine, Thomson.
Culter: Duffy, Sim, Donald, Reid, Kelly, McArthur, S Taylor, Leith, McAllister, McBain, Beaton, MTaylor, Robertson, Crisp, Murray, Pennet.
United face local rivals Maud at The Meadows on Saturday and Bruce Morrison and Scott Brown will be looking for the same effort and commitment from their charges next weekend in their search for precious league points. The match kicks off at the earlier time of 1.30pm.