Formartine United 4 Brora Rangers 1
The significance of this result and the performance that underpinned it cannot be under-estimated. It marked the re-emergence of Formartine as a potent force in the SHFL after a period in the doldrums. While the result must come as some relief to all concerned at North Lodge, it was the scale and composition of it that gave greater cause for satisfaction.
The Cattachs had set out their stall to play Formartine on the break and had not the slightest compunction about getting eight or more bodies behind the ball whenever their hosts were in possession. This made them extremely difficult to break down and it is to Formartine’s credit that they had the patience, guile and skill to pick away at this defensive lock until it was ultimately burst wide open by a display of fast flowing and at times quite slick football.
For the first ten minutes or thereby, the Dudgeon Parkers were prepared to test Formartine’s mettle by breaking at pace down the left flank to play in Murray and Kerr in the middle. The pace was there but the home rearguard of Davidson, who looks to have made the right back berth his own, Campbell, Mann and Robertson coped more than adequately and chances for Brora were few and far between.
Formartine however showed even this early that they could apply pressure and keep it on. They had little difficulty in getting the ball into the final third but were either crowded out by a packed defence or denied by some excellent goal keeping by McCarthy. The Formartine threat was spread widely with Stephen and Mackay attacking down the flanks and Rusty Smith who had his best game in a Formartine jersey, rampaging from box to box down the middle. His power and workrate, as well as the considerable contribution of a hat trick, were the cornerstones of this victory
Within fifteen minutes Formartine were well in the driving seat. Callum Bagshaw gave newbie centre half Gibb a bit of a roasting with his superb close control. Twice in as many minutes the ex-Celt threatened. First, a wee shimmy got him past the defender before he clipped the ball diagonally back into the path of McVittie, whose under-struck shot from the edge of the box was on target but lacking in the venom that was needed to fully test McCarty. A minute later he went solo. Picking up a threaded ball from Robertson, he let fly with a fierce drive that did make demands of the keeper. However, the youngster was fit for the occasion and produced a first rate diving save to deny him.
Brora held on grimly to their clean sheet as Formartine laid siege to their back line. It took until three minutes before half time for Formartine to get the opening goal they needed to settle and which would coax the visitors out of their defensive shell.
Robertson, fed by Mann, pushed forward through the inside left channel, past Golabeck and drew Moir before swinging the ball into the box to the head of Rusty Smith. His superbly-taken header flew above and beyond the keeper into the far top corner of the net. This produced the injection of belief that Formartine needed and their play at once looked crisper and more confident.
Buckie did well to hold on for the three minutes that remained before the interval. A twenty yard drive from Barry Stephen showed the continuing fine form of the visiting keeper who dived right to save an otherwise net bound effort.
Formartine started the second half with the same level of attack that they had concluded the first, with the only real surprise being that it took them until the hour mark to extend their lead.
The experienced Mann slipped the ball to Robertson and slotted in behind him. The left back then played it in to Mackay and continued his own run down the left. The ball was returned to him in space still wide-ish left and a full twenty five yards out. Without breaking stride, he hit a powerful drive which rocketed into the net beyond the reach of McCarthy’s left hand.
An energised Formartine were now running rampantly at a beleaguered visiting defence and Rusty Smith got his second fourteen minutes later. Stephen who was changing wings with ease was stretching the Brora defence to breaking point. An in-swinging cross from the right had McCarthy at full stretch to parry the ball away from the back stick. He got enough of a hand to it to clear but could do little more than push it towards Smith who simply flicked the ball past him into the opposite corner of the net.
Formartine were now at their best and big Rusty was in his element causing mayhem through the middle. Breaking into the box in pursuit of a dink from McGinlay, he was hauled down by Mackay for a penalty. Smith seemed to be giving as good as he got in this incident but ref Spence saw it differently and pointed to the spot. Hat trick beckoning, the big midfielder struck the ball hard and low to the keeper’s right. He produced a superb dive and got a hand to the ball but the pace on it was enough to allow it to continue its net-bound progress.
Formartine seemed to take their foot a bit off the pedal and allowed Brora the comfort of a consolation goal in the 84th minute. Mann was making a defensive header under pressure from sub Baxter and clearly won the ball. As he turned to get power into his header the slightly built youngster rebounded from the defenders mighty frame and landed on his rear end. Possibly in restitution of the previous spot kick, the ref awarded one to Brora. Baxter took it himself and slotted it coolly into the lower left corner.
The remaining six minutes were played out in a rather scrappy fashion, with Brora chasing a measure of respectability that a second goal would offer while Formartine looked for a fifth, which neither side managed to achieve.
This was decent performance from Formartine suggesting that they are capable of climbing the league. As the injury crisis slowly recedes with Soane and Macaulay on the mend, the future begins to look rosier.
Formartine United: Bremner, Davidson, Robertson, MannCampbell, McVittie, Bagshaw, Smith, Mackay, McGinlay, Stephen.
Subs: A.Bagshaw, Bailey,Mathers, Soutar.
Brora Rangers: McCarthy, Moir, Mackay, Golabeck, Gibb, Lamont, Ross, Finlayson, Murray, Kerr Mackintosh. Subs: Macleod, Baxter, Maclean, Murray, Martin.