Looking to maintain their position in joint top slot with Wick, Formartine, Brora, Inverurie Locos were faced with a derby home meeting with Huntly for the first of a double header in the space of five days
An early Andrzej Kleczkowski strike appeared to put a dampener on the excellent start to the season, but in a dramatic finale they clawed out the win, Neil Gauld and David Ross the scoring heroes in a 2-1 win.
Huntly almost seized the initiative early on, Neil McLean’s chest back to Andy Reid falling short. David Booth managed to sneak in behind McLean, only for his cut back to go wide of the near post.
However the Strathbogie side made no mistake in eight minutes. Andy Low received a booking for the first foul of the match. Failing to clear the second ball after Andrzej Kleczkowski’s low free kick into the wall, Locos only had themselves to blame for allowing Huntly to regain possession and get the ball back to Kleczkowski who slotted in from six yards.
Then Neale Davidson’s low 25 yard effort evaded the stretching dive of Andy Reid, his effort striking the right post and rolling away.
Eventually, McLean attempted a speculative effort from 25 yards. With the ball skimming along the turf, keeper Shaun Barney parried it, but was lucky there was no follow up.
Locos produced their finest move of the entire half with half time approaching. Dean Donaldson looked to have put too much on his cross as it floated over the head of Martin Bavidge. However Neil Gauld was in the right place to knock the ball down for Andrew Hunter, before the midfield man put too much height on his effort and struck the crossbar.
Huntly certainly had the opportunities to build on their lead going into the second half. It looked as if David Booth had scored a second after racing through the Locos midfield and surged towards goal, forcing Andy Reid off his line. Substitute Kieran Adams not managed to deflect the shot.
The home side were desperate for an equaliser. Scott Begg wasted an excellent opportunity after breaking through the Huntly defence, only for Barney to close down the angles and force the Locos man to slice wide of goal.
Tempers began to rise as both teams received their own fair share of warnings and bookings. Furious with the decisions being made by the officials, Huntly manager Dave McGinlay received his marching orders after a series of outbursts. His team capitulated in the 89th minute, throwing away a certain points haul.
It was route one approach as Reid sprinted up the field to take a free kick from just inside his half. Having the luxury of picking out the towering Bavidge, Reid floated the ball right onto the head of the striker, who was able to flick the ball onto the back post. Right on cue, Neil Gauld threw himself at the ball, getting the perfect touch to beat Barney at the front post and send the ball into the top right corner.
The last-gasp equaliser and generous added time gave Locos the drive to push on. They only had sights on a winner and pressured Huntly into submission. Facing a defence with their backs to the wall, David Ross worked his way past two defenders on the right flank before being allowed to drive into the box, Huntly men claiming the ball was previously out of play.
Bavidge’s close range reaction shot agonisingly rebounded off the right post, fortunately for the home side, the ball fell perfectly for David Ross to poke into the top left corner, sparking a full team celebration in the middle of the pitch.
The remaining minutes quickly ticked away and the final whistle saw polar opposite reactions from the benches, most noticeably Alex Thoirs receiving a red card as the players began to leave the pitch.
Locos: Andy Reid, Marc Young (David Ross 65), John Maitland, Scott Begg, Ross Anderson, Neil McLean, Andy Hunter, Andy Low (Mark Souter 65), Neil Gauld, Martin Bavidge, Dean Donaldson (Kieran Adams 55) Subs: Steven Park, Scott Mathieson.
Huntly: Shaun Barney, Michael Clark, Sam McKenzie, Mark Gray, Craig Dorrat, Pawel Nowacki, Russell Guild, Neale Davidson, Andrzej Kleczkowski, David Booth, Alexander Thoirs. Subs: Trialist, Marek Madle, Daniel Stewart, Lewis Ingram, Richard Bowman.
After the match, Scott Buchan, Co Manager, Inverurie Locos said: “From both halves, we got what we deserved. We were deservedly getting beaten at half-time, while we certainly deserved to score in the second half, maybe not win the game.
“A little bit of momentum is what you get with the equaliser driving you on It just fell for us in the box, fell to Davie Ross and he’s tucked it away.
“I’m delighted. Martin Bavidge is getting better and better with games, his fitness at the start of the season is not what he wanted it to be, games will get him better Huntly did well against him, but he got a little bit more room in the latter stages, they put a lot into the game and battled away.
“Great fighting spirit from the guys, they’ve done it a couple of times this season, pleasing for us all. With subs coming on, it works or it doesn’t work, but it gave us energy, and we changed the shape going for it, as well getting beaten by two goals than petering out to a single goal defeat.
“Kieran Adams was solid at the back, Mark Souter came into midfield, David Ross had over twenty minutes, was in the right place at the right time. It does give us a selection headache, the boys doing really well. You just make a decision, it was no reflection on the players on the park. You hope it’ll be the right one. It gives you ideas.”
This Saturday Locos are on the road to the Highland capital, slow starters to this season Clachnacuddin the hosts at Grant St Park. Kick Off 3pm