Formartine make a statement with 5-0 hammering of Brora

editorial image

The margin of this victory will already have sent shock waves reverberating throughout the Highland League community but those who were there to see it, the way in which it was achieved was even more significant.

Taking the old adage of hit ‘em hard and hit ‘em early, United stunned their hosts by racing into a two goal lead in first seven minutes.

Each was a perfectly executed sucker punch brought about by exploiting the limitations of a flat and rather static home back line.

In the third minute – just after a Brora foray into United territory on the left was broken up, the counter was on.

The ball was swiftly worked over to Crawford on the right who advanced quickly towards the halfway line before flighting the ball into the path of WOOD who bore straight through the inside right channel, through the gap between MacDonald and Duff and as the keeper advanced, towards him drove the ball low but accurately across the line of his advance and into the far corner of the net.

United had shaken off the rust acquired during their enforced layoffs in that game and despite flagging ever so slightly late in this one, combined to transform a decent and generally successful side into a genuinely impressive one.

The next goal was almost a mirror image of the first – worked down the left side and finished by Scott Barbour.

An under- struck goal kick by MacDonald was retrieved from Morrison by Stuart Anderson who shimmied his way a few yards forward before delivering a perfectly timed and consummately weighted pass out left to BARBOUR who timed his run to nip past a still rather flat and static defence, cut inside and from a tightish angle to the left of goal about twelve yards out fired the ball past the outstretched left hand of Mckay for number two.

Had this not been as early as the 6th minute you might have considered it a match winner, but a team of Brora’s abilities can turn round a two goal deficit in much less than the 84 minutes that remained.

However United made sure that they couldn’t by sustaining a ferocious pace. Anderson, Rodger, MacPhee and Ferries in midfield ensured that Brora never had enough of the ball for long enough, let alone the space to work in to mount a serious threat to the relatively underworked MacDonald in the United goal.

Up front, the enthusiasm and sheer physicality of Wood matched by the mobility and “tanner ba’” skills of Barbour were the stuff of nightmares to a defence that seemed to display no more mobility than their manager displayed as a player.

Brora struggled to reach the final third and on the occasions that they did get there found more resistance than they could overcome.

As the half progressed United pressed further forward and began to keep the ball in Brora territory for longer periods.

Having shaded the stats for possession, United were now dominating territorially too.

In such circumstances, a third goal before half time was clearly on the cards.

It was a different type altogether: after a sustained onslaught on the home goal area when shots into goalmouth melees by Ferries, Wood, Anderson, MacPhee and Barbour rebounded somehow or another to safety. Rodger broke the temporary impasse by holding back a shade until a rebound almost inevitably came his way following a Barbour ball in from the left and he was able to slot it home from 10 yards out in the 32nd minute.

United continued to dominate in terms of possession and territory without further increasing their tally before the interval. Brora replaced Brindle with Greig in the 38th but it made little difference.

Some Brora tackling was deteriorating into persistent fouling and a couple [by Graham on Smith and Duff on MacPhee] yielded [perhaps leniently] yellow cards.

Some sort of reaction from Brora was expected at the start of the second period but beyond a two or three minute flurry right at the start, they were unable to muster anything to threaten United and the pattern of Formartine dominating the central areas and denying Brora access to most of the final third continued to prevail.

The pitch was heavy and the initial frenetic pace began to drop a little.

Even then, United looked fitter than their hosts and continued to dominate.

They had enough possession and overall pressure to increase their lead and the only surprise was that it took until later in the game for them to do so.

Liam Burnett has made a real breakthrough into the top team this season and coming on as sub staked a claim for a starting berth with a neatly taken goal.

Barbour had taken the ball down near the left corner flag before working it past Pickles to launch a neatly judged chip for Burnett to head home from close range at the back stick in the 84th minute.

Four nil is a bit oif a doing -especially to Brora at home - but United were still not finished.

Sustaining pressure right to the end they forced a last minute score that really added insult to injury.

Picking up a loose ball a bit shy of the centre circle, Ferries was off like a rat up a spout and reached the edge of the box MacKay went down to dispossess him.

He had only limited success and being unable to hold the ball allowed it to spin from his grasp.

In the race to get to it there was only going to be one winner and that wasries who then rolled the ball cooly into the goal off the inside of the left upright for number 5.

Exciting times lie ahead for this free scoring United side [13 goals in their last 3 games].

A Cup final v Cove beckons as does a 3rd round tie against the possibly beatable Forfar in the William Hill Scottish Cup.

This game may have been a one off but the standard of the opposition, the scale of victory and the manner in which it was achieved suggest otherwise and are grounds for some optimism.