A Cammy Keith hat-trick helped Formartine United to a convincing win over Fort William at North Lodge Park on Saturday.
Stuart Anderson with two and a Garry Wood strike kept up the pressure on Brora Rangers in the title chase.
Manager Kris Hunter sent out a strong message following the miserable Aberdeenshire Shield exit to Cove Rangers three days earlier by making five changes.
MacDonald, Munro, Bagshaw, Keith and Berton had of late made their contributions from the bench but on this occasion were in the starting line-up.
Keith went close early on before putting his side in front in the 11th minute.
He picked up the ball from Wood and dispatched it beyond keeper MacLellan from 10 yards.
Fort tried to battle back and went close in the 24th minute when MacLellan fired a fierce 20-yarder against the bar.
The home side went further ahead in the 36th minute when Anderson picked up a loose ball following a Berton corner and volleyed it home.
But they were pegged by four minutes later when the lively MacLellan broke through and curled home a fine effort from the edge of the box.
A superb Crawford header brought an equally fine save as United ended the half on the attack.
Formartine had the strong wind at their backs and increased their lead on the re-start.
Wood picked up the ball on the right and bore in on the keeper before finishing with a crisp drive.
United then hit their visitors with two goals in seven minutes from Keith.
The first came when a goal kick fell kindly for him and he gave the keeper no chance. The hat-trick arrived when the restored striker neatly headed home a cross from substitute Barbour.
Formartine continued to dominate and Anderson added to his tally with a close-range header following a corner on the right by Barbour.
In a thicket of players at the rear post, he got his head to the ball and directed it home to complete the scoring.
Manager Hunter was slightly equivocal about it all “happy to get a win, happy with the scoreline” but regarding the overall performance said: “I think we can play a lot better than that. The team’s full of quality but we let ourselves down at times with some of our decision-making.”
Formartine United: MacDonald, Munro, Smith, Crawford, Henry, Anderson, Rodger, Bagshaw, Keith, Wood, Berton. Substitutes: Masson, Barbour, Gauld, Michie, Reid.
Fort William: MacLennan, Foggo, Broomfield, Tawse, Porritt, Mainland, Hull, Rennie, Cameron, Davidson, MacLellan. Substitutes: MacPhee, Taylor, Moffat, MacRitchie, Lieder, Fell, Hunter.