Formartine in triumph over Ellon

Formartine United 3 - Ellon United 1

Formartine United 3 - Ellon United 1

THERE was never any doubt that this pre-season friendly was going to a competitive affair – with seven ex- Formartine players in the Ellon squad, there were players a-plenty with points to prove and on the day the battling contributions of two former Formartine captains, Corser and Forsyth, ensured a stern enough test for the Highland League outfit.

As in the previous week, Formartine turned out a composite side, fielding another XI at Echt where they triumphed 3-0. However, Ellon were up for it and began by taking the game to their hosts with a brisk opening salvo. In the 7th minute a rather hesitant Formartine back three was cruelly and embarrassingly exposed by a bit of old-fashioned wing play. Craib picked up from a throw in on the left and cut diagonally forward a few paces before placing a peach of a cross straight onto the head of SIMPSON, who reacted faster than his markers and thumped a vicious header well beyond the reach of keeper Bremner.

This was the wake up call that an initially rather casual-looking Formartine side needed and they began to gain control of the game with some decent possession football. Robertson and Soane began to express themselves in the middle and with MacKay beavering away up front and the vast majority of the play taking place in Ellon territory, it was clear that an equaliser was imminent. A venomous twenty yard drive by Robertson had Buchanan beaten all ends up before it rebounded from his right hand upright. In the 19th minute McGINLAY levelled the match with a simple clinical finish. Latching onto a through ball from McVittie, he sprung the off side trap to get one on one with Buchanan before finishing with a well-placed shot beyond the keeper’s left hand.

By this stage, Formartine looked odds on favourites and began to dictate. They had clear territorial advantage and the lion’s share of possession but were not as incisive in the final third as their higher status might have suggested. The pressure was incessant but too often the final ball went astray and a busy but well organised Ellon defence worked their socks off to hold onto level terms. McGinlay had one hacked off the line by Annand, while a drive by Stephen flew over the top, allowing Ellon to hang on.

Formartine got their noses in front on the half hour after McVittie and Stephen had combined well to get the ball across the box to McKAY, who had darted over to the near post. With a sublime piece of impudent trickery he turned in a tiny space and squeezed the ball in at the post for number two. This was enough to see Formartine into their comfort zone and they sustained pressure and made a host of chanes which they either spurned with profligate finishing or found themselves denied by the gritty determination of the visiting rearguard. They had the ball in the net with a move quite similar to the one that had yielded the second goal but the standside assistant decreed that McGinlay was offside, and Ellon retained a glimmer of hope.

Formartine maintained pressure but were unable to extend their lead for the remainder of the half. Ellon as an attacking force were never really in contention and they never managed to get into a position to threaten the home defence

The second half opened with Ellon pushing forward and initially enjoying more possession in what was arguably their best spell of the match. For ten minutes or so they worked hard on and off the ball but despite their possession they never really got into a position to threaten Bremner in the home goal in the way they had in the opening minutes.

Their purple patch turned out to be fleeting, however, and was brought to an end by Formartine’s third goal. After a spell of Ellon pressure, the ball was fed forward out of defence to Mackay who initially was barely in the Ellon half. Streaking through the middle leaving defenders in his wake he bore in on the keeper Buchanan, who got smartly off his line and forced Mackay wide. However, with the keeper committed, the striker simply slid the ball a few yards left to the advancing McGinlay, who had the simple task of slipping the ball into the unguarded net from five yards out.

The point of these pre-season friendlies is to give as many players as possible a run out and both sides did just that. At three – one the game as a contest was pretty well over and subs got a run out. Formartine produced the surprise of the afternoon as manager Paterson produced a rabbit out of the hat with the introduction of French student Redwin Nacef. The lanky striker put himself about but was clearly unfamiliar with the moves of his colleagues and despite showing a few nice touches was unable to show much menace up front.

Formartine remained on top but the game as a spectacle began to wane. Neither side had the penetration to produce any more goals. A close range shot from Soane went over the top and likewise another from further out by Stephen. A Robertson header rebounded from the crossbar but the afternoon’s scoring was at an end and the game drifted towards the final whistle.

Over the piece, Formartine were generally superior to Ellon, but the display by the Juniors was more than creditable. They forced the Highland League side to work for their result and in the process provided a performance that showed pace, discipline and organisation.

Formartine United: Bremner, Tait, Johnston, Taylor, Quinn, McVittie, Soane, Robertson,McKay McGinlay, Stephen. Subs: Nacef, Simpson

Ellon United: Buchanan, Annand, Willox, Corser, McKinnon, Lawson, Simpson, Forsyth, McTavish,Walker, Craib. Subs: Allsop,Chalmers, Johnson, Quinn, McKeitch, Morrison