FORmartine had to battle hard for victory in this Breeden Aggregates Highland League Cup first round derby at Turriff United.
The Pitmedden side were 2-0 up and seemingly into the next stage, but suffered a late fright when their opponents pulled a goal back.
Manager Steve Paterson responded to the midweek defeat at Forres by making some changes to each department of his team. Jeffrey and Robertson came in as full backs, Napier went wide in midfield and Callum Dingwall began as Mike Ewen’s strike partner.
The game started at a brisk pace with Formartine getting slightly the better of early exchanges, attacking their hosts mostly from the flanks.
Robertson threaded an early ball down the left to Napier who jinked inside Gary Davidson to clip the ball towards the back of the box from where Bagshaw slightly snatched at the ball, sending it high and wide over Gatt’s goal.
A couple of minutes later a near replica of the move with Ewen rather than Napier acting as provider, saw Bagshaw force a good diving save from the keeper.
Turriff at this stage relied more on breakaways with Harris acting as a pacy spearhead. He was generally well contained by centre backs Smith and McKeown and Shearer’s contribution was more about keeping a watchful eye and organising the defenders in front of him than by exercising his remarkable shot-stopping skills.
As time ran out in the first half, Formartine mounted wave upon wave of attack but mustered precious little penetration in the final third. Bagshaw with late runs from midfield got on the end of a couple of chances from Napier and McVittie but failed to get the ball past Gatt.
The second half started very differently with Turriff in the driving seat.
Their attacks were, however, fairly predictable and over reliant on Harris, who was persistently caught or played offside by the experienced Formartine central defenders.
On the hour mark, Formartine swapped Dingwall for Park, and Park, perhaps determined to regain the starting berth up front, made an immediate impact.
Running directly at defenders he brought Ewen and McVittie increasingly into it as attacking forces and Turriff were getting pinned down in their own territory.
Five minutes after coming on, in the wake of a period of sustained pressure on the home rearguard Park pounced. Passing the ball around the box, Formartine maintained possession until Park spotted a gap. From a good twenty yards, he drilled the ball through a ruck of defenders and well beyond the reach of Gatt.
Formartine remained for the most part in control and looked to have wrapped it up with a second four minutes from time.
The terrier-like McVitie was picking up scraps in midfield and round the edge of the box and gained the reward of his persistence after winning the ball to start a sequence of about a dozen passes round the penalty area and beyond.
He got it back from Mike Ewen with only Gatt to beat and coolly drew the keeper and stroked the ball into an empty net.
Turriff were not giving up without a fight and pulled one back. Substitute Liggertwood broke down the left flank before threading a well-judged and immaculately-timed ball straight into the path of Gauld who was sprinting through the middle. He placed the ball neatly beyond the reach of Shearer’s right hand for a deserved consolation.
Turriff United: Gatt, G.Davidson, L.Davidson, Herd, Bowden, Brownie, Gauld, Young, Harris, Gray, Allan. Subs: MacKenzie, Taylor, MacAllister,n Liggertwood, Pennet.
Formartine United: Shearer, Jeffrey, Robertson, McKeown, M.Smith, Bagshaw, Munro, McVittie, Dingwall, Ewen, Napier. Subs: Park, Soane, Donald, S.Smith, Davidson.