A four hundred mile round trip after a midweek cup tie that ran to 120 minutes on an energy sapping pitch did little to help Formartine’s cause against old rivals Wick.
For all the energy sapping on the way United made a bright enough start.
Playing up the Harmsworth slope they moved the ball about quick and sharp and looked fluent enough but Wick, slope advantage or not, were also trying to make a strong opening and the game had an exciting end to end quality to it.
Some progress down the right by Allan set Anderson free and having outsmarted Dingwall, had a clear sight of goa bu the resulting shot caught the underside of the bar and rebounded to safety.
In the 6th minute, a fast flowing United attack down the left released the lively Barbour who forced his way into the left side of the box before knocking the ball out wide to Lawrence.
The youngster drew defenders wide and whipped a fierce low cross over the goal face and RODGER drove the ball home from about five yards out.
It was a good start but the way play was going it was clear that one goal was not going to be enough and it didn’t take too long for equality to be restored.
Wick’s Steven Anderson was a constant threat to the visiting rearguard and With Macadie alongside there was a definite sense of menace.
However the United rearguard organised by captain Stuart Anderson as sweeper were looking secure enough until the 16th minute when the first of Wick’s penalties was awarded.
It was a simple case of a forward finding his route ahead blocked by two defenders and going to deck instead.
MACADIE confidently slotted the ball home low to the keeper’s right.
At a goal apiece the game became increasingly a midfield battle and a pretty well balanced one at that.
A loopy cross cum shot from MacAdie had keeper MacDonald at full stretch to tip the ball over the top and at the other end a fierce low drive from the right side of the area by Lawrence fizzed an inch past McArthy’s left upright.
Formartine were trying to force their way through a defensive line across the edge of the box when a two-footed tackle by Hardwick on Rodger yielded a free kick for Formartine just a shade over 20 yards out.
BARBOUR took the free kick with the care and precision of a master craftsman, delicately imparting just enough spin to get the ball up over the five man wall and down again to squeeze into the net just inside the keepers far upright.
Wick sought immediate response but United held them largely in the midfield area until the interval.
Formartine, while still clearly working very hard, seemed to lose some of their customary bounce in the second half.
However it took another penalty in the 71st minute to restore equilibrium.
Again it looked very soft – a hand ball where the ball struck the hand of a player trying to get out of the way of it and making no attempt to touch it at all, nor gain any advantage was still enough for the young ref to blow up.
MacADIE again sunk the spot kick.
Formartine pushed to get back in to the game but their hard gained momentum was lost when Jaimie Michie got another yellow card for a deliberate hand ball while lying on his back on the ground.
His dismissal with 10 minutes remaining tipped the game in Wick’s favour.
In the 83rd minute Wick did what was almost inevitable and for the first time in the game got their noses in front with a goal that had match winning quality written all over it.
Following a brief spell of United pressure Steven played a ball into space ahead of MANSON out wide left.
Threading his way through the inside left channel he was jockeyed a bit further left but at about fifteen yards out still had just enough of an angle to get sight of goal.
It was all he needed as launched a ferocious slightly curling drive byond the reach of MacDonald and into the far side of the net.