Any lingering doubts about Formartine’s capacity to lift the championship must have been laid to rest as they took Clach apart 5-1 at North Lodge Park on Saturday.
This second versus third was a must win for the Inverness side whose title challenge was blown away by the power, pace and super-slick organisation of a Formartine side whose league challenge now seems well founded and entirely credible.
The first five or ten minutes were fairly evenly contested but even then Formartine showed that once they applied a bit of pressure they were capable of sustaining it that bit longer than the visitors.
During this sizing up period, Formartine found that short chipped balls over defenders and into the channels allowed Ewen and Park the scope to break into the box.
In the 21st minute, Munro produced the over-the-top chip out right and close to the half-way line. Ewen was onto it quickly, drew defenders but outpaced them to the edge of the box before clipping the ball across into the path of Park who had timed his run to beat the off-side trap, collect the ball and bury it well beyond the outstretched right hand of keeper Campbell.
Three minutes later Webster took a free kick about thiry five yards from goal and just in from the left wing.
The ball was struck firmly and outswinging into the range of Craig McKeown who had powered his way in from the far corner of the box. With a prodigious leap the big central defender rose above his opposite number and nodded majestically home for number two.
Clach had wind advantage in the second half but it scarcely mattered as Formartine resumed where they had left off and continued to turn the screw.
They added number three when Webster whipped the ball beyond the wall and into the maelstrom at the far side of the box.
With both Campbell and McKeown on the rampage and bearing down on him, Milne turned the ball into his own net.
This was the cushion Formartine needed and with no fear of defeat to trouble them, they began to turn on that special kind of style that is known as a Tommy Wilson master class. Orchestrating everything from the centre, he simply dictated events.
By now Clach were reduced to very infrequent and forlorn looking attempts at attack and the only serious questions were about the eventual margin of Formartine’s victory and when the goal a game Mike Ewen would claim his goal.
This came in the 64th minute, the result of a move very similar to the one that had created the first. The only difference was that once Ewen had the ball, he continued into the box and did the finishing himself with a low, accurately struck ball that left Campbell with no chance.
Against the run of play and as a consequence of Formartine’s almost incessant commitment to attack, Clach claimed a crumb of comfort with a well taken breakaway goal by substitute Brindle
Callum Bagshaw had replaced the injured McVittie at half time and after attempts by Ewen and Park had been blocked, he reacted first to reach the ball near the penalty spot and smash it into the net to complete the scoring.
Formartine United: Shearer, Jeffrey, S.Smith, McKeown, Campbell, Wilson, Munro, McVittie, Park, Ewen, Webster: Subs Napier,Dingwall, M.Smith, Bagshaw, Soane.
Clachnacuddin: Campbell, Scott-Woodhouse, Finnis, Milne, Dougall, MacLeod, Callum, Pollock, Morrison, Urquhart. Lawrie. Subs: Brindle, MacDonald, Maclean, Chisholm, Robertson