Ellon United had the chance to leapfrog Hall Russell United in their fight for Superleague survival but they blew it when they meekly allowed their visitors to win 2–1 at the Meadows on Saturday.
The wind completely spoiled the game but at least the Aberdeen side showed an appetite for the contest which allowed them to get the better of a United side who looked so lethargic and failed to get into gear.
With several players missing United were able to introduce former Keith FC player Andy Smith who is on holiday from college but the rearrangements meant that once again too many players appeared out of position and they never looked like getting to grips with the conditions.
Hall Russell’s movement was far superior to United`s and they kept the ball moving and pressuring the home side with Ellon unable to cash in on any mistakes by their visitors.
United in comparison got themselves into trouble time and time again by being too pedantic, continually giving away possession and allowing themselves to be pressurised by the visitors.
Hall Russell were up for the fight from the start and were willing to contest every ball which caused the United rearguard all sort of problems but fortunately the visitors were unable to test home keeper Callum Steer.
Ellon conceded a goal in the 24th minute which they should have avoided.
The problem started when they gave a needless free kick outside the box with the initial cross only half cleared. The second cross looked to be comfortably covered but the ball appeared to get caught in the wind causing Aiden Greig to miss his header and the ball fell to the unmarked Hardie with the United midfielder too slow to react allowing Hardie to blast the ball home off Callum Steer`s far post.
United should have equalised straight away when Neil Erskine met a cross from Lenny Johnson but he contrived to head the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.
Hall Russell came close to adding to their tally five minutes after the break through a shot which grazed the top of the bar.
United made a change in the 57th minute with Callum Tremaine replacing Greig. The home side had a lucky escape five minutes later when an almighty blunder at the back presented the visitors with an open goal but somehow they manged to hit the post and the ball stayed out.
The home side`s luck deserted them a minute later, however. Andy Anderson was brought down to win a free kick for United then for some reason the United player was ordered off for two cautions for deliberate tripping.
Ellon found themselves deeper in trouble with 71 minutes gone. With no danger threatening and despite having plenty time and space defender Matty Bremner put an attempted clearance straight to an opponent all in the clear allowing Hall Russell to break clean through.
An excellent recovery effort by Grant Thomson saw the defender slide across to block the shot but the ball struck his arm on the ground as he slid across and it was no surprise to the home support when the visitors were awarded a penalty although to be fair United would surely have made a similar claim. Central defender Whitfield finished the spot kick expertly.
United had to go looking for goals in a desperate search for points but were unable to put the visitors under enough sustained pressure until it was too late.
They were awarded a free kick in stoppage time and on this occasion they put the ball into the danger area instead of trying to be clever and they forced Hall Russell to concede possession with Johnson chipping the ball home but it was too little, too late.
Ellon United: Steer, Thomson, Mathieson, Smith, Bremner, Robertson, Johnson, Anderson, Erskine, Leahy, Greig (Tremaine), Watson, Watson, Kennedy-Colbert, McLeod, Annand.
Hall Russell United: Carroll, Russell, Goodwin, Robertson, Whitfield, Shaw, Mackie, Cooper, Hardie, Hay, Pugh, Reid, Simpson, Mearns.
United travel to Banff on Saturday to meet a Deveronside team who have achieved some impressive results of late although they did suffer an unexpected loss to United`s fellow strugglers Cruden Bay two weeks ago. United`s first evening fixture is a visit to Cruden Bay on Tuesday, April 7, with a 6.45pm kick off.
Meanwhile, the winning numbers in United`s weekly Lucky Six Draw were 1, 3, 5, 6, 9 and 10 and with no one picking the full set the jackpot for next week`s draw will be £1550 with the selection 6 from 14. The consolation prize winner was G Gammack.