League leaders Maud proved too strong for Ellon United and eased to a 4-2 win at The Meadows on Saturday.
Shaun Robertson and Andy Anderson netted for United but a Donald Fraser hat-trick and an unfortunate own goal were enough to keep the visitors in top spot.
Ellon lost the services of Aaron Scully in midweek when he was recalled by parent club Cove Rangers and farmed out to Keith.
The absence of the young defender meant that United were again forced into changes at the back with Shaun Robertson moving into a central defensive role and Fraser Tait taking up a midfield place with the continued absence of the injured Grant Thomson.
Maud were unable to cash in directly on a 12th minute error by United who put themselves in trouble through a slack pas. The opening goal was only delayed with a ball being knocked wide to Fraser who brushed aside a challenge before beating Callum Steer low at his far post.
A good response from the home side saw them force a series of corners ending with Robertson heading home Lenny Johnson’s final set piece delivery two minutes later.
Midway through the first half Johnson picked the ball up deep and worked his way forward to force a save from keeper Dunbar. Maud broke straight upfield with Willox`s shot half blocked and Steer mopping up.
Maud grabbed their second goal in the 26th minute. A fine challenge from Calum Annand held up a Maud attack but the ball fell kindly for the visitors and although Steer managed to parry the initial shot, the alert Fraser was quickest to react and bundle home his second of the afternoon.
Two minutes later Tait beat the Maud defence to meet a free kick but his header drifted narrowly wide. United suffered a severe blow in the 35th minute when Maud managed to keep the ball in play sending a high lob from the byline into the goalmouth.
Steer looked to play safe in the conditions by putting the ball over his bar but unfortunately the young keeper only succeeded in palming the ball into his own net.
Ellon were awarded a free kick in a good position three minutes before the break but blasted the ball well over.
United`s Paul Leahy came on at the start of the second half to replace the injured Chris Craib with Robertson moving to the left and Leahy taking his central position.
They made a second change 13 minutes later with Grant Anderson coming on at the right hand side of the defence and Annand stepping into midfield to replace the tiring Tait.
Ellon pulled a second goal back in the 63rd minute when Johnson moved up the right before finding Andy Anderson who beat Dunbar at his far post. United passed up the chance to equalise when Dev Kennedy–Colbert beat his marker to create enough space to send in a fierce drive which was parried by Dunbar only for no Ellon player to be on hand to take advantage of the loose ball.
Maud found the net following a good break but they had strayed offside. The visitors settled matters in the 90th minute with a repeat of the move only this time they found Fraser coming in at the back to complete his hat-trick.
Ellon United: Steer, Annand, Craib (Leahy), Tait (Grant Anderson), Millsom, Robertson, Johnson, MacCauley, Kennedy – Colbert, Andy Anderson, McLeod, Tremaine, Greig.
Maud: Dunbar, Whyte, Hall, Robertson, Simpson, Rae, Barbour, Fraser, Bremner, Willox, Morrice, Ritchie, Kirk, Main, McKinnon.
United are on cup business on Saturday when Deveronside make their third visit to The Meadows this season, this time for a second round tie in the GA Engineering Inter Regional Cup. Kick-off is 1.15pm.