Formartine’s title challenge was dealt a potentially fatal blow on Saturday when they lost 2-1 at strong-going Turriff United.
The home side, who recorded their 13th straight win, merited the three points with a highly-committed, yet disciplined performance.
For long periods United were left chasing the game but did mount a spirited bid for an equaliser over the closing 15 minutes.
Turriff opened strongly and laid siege to the visitors’ goal.
The ferocious start paid off as early as the fourth minute and it was none other than former Formartine defender Stuart Cumming who put his side in front.
He was completely unmarked and able to nod home a Baigrie cross with keeper Shearer unable to get near it.
United tried to reply but simply could not get a foothold in the game and Turriff continued to dominate.
The visitors managed to weather the storm and by the midpoint of the first period were beginning to make some impression.
Anderson began to grow in confidence and played in Madle twice and Keith on another occasion, whose efforts were all blocked.
Anderson forced Main into pulling down a dipping shot from under the bar.
The second half saw Formartine continuing to push as the home side seemed to favour playing deeper.
But a swift Turriff counter attack just after the hour mark caused irreparable damage.
Davidson broke down the right and following an exchange with substitute Herd he let fly with a low drive past Shearer.
The Pitmedden side did their best to recover and pulled one back a few minutes later.
Full back Jeffrey burst down the right and followed his ball into the box and rifled it home from eight yards to give the visitors some hope.
The goal seemed revitalise Formartine and they pressed hard for an equaliser.
Napier set up McVitie and Main just got a fingertip to his effort to divert for a corner.
But, despite the pressure, Turriff were determined to hold on to the three points and saw out the game.
The Haughs side did not seem to have any standout players but the standard of organisation and workrate, particularly off the ball, was impressive.
For Formartine the defeat is a major setback and they will need to improve if they are to stay in touch at the top of the table.
Turriff United: Main, Davidson, Allan, Cumming, Bowden, Kuznecovs, MacKenna, Young, Baigrie, A MacAskill, MCGowan. Substitutes, Gray, C MacAskill, Chalmers, Brownie, Herd, Sim.
Formartine United: Shearer, Jeffrey, Smith, McKeown, Hay, Munro, Napier, McVitie, Keith, Anderson, Madle. Substitutes: Bagshaw, McKay, Dingwall, Clark, Duguid, Watson.