Formartine United 1 - Nairn County 1
As a spectacle the game was as dreich and dis-spiriting as the bitter January blast that roared from the Meldrum end of the park towards the village. It began with a period of mutual probing as both side looked for the boost of an early goal. A forceful run through the inside right channel by Callum Bagshaw supported by Mackay ended with a hastily struck shot that Ridgers collected comfortably. At the other end, Steve Mackay hit one over the top and a hopeful drive by Gethins was held by Soutar. A Bobby Mann free from twenty five yards out, gale assisted skirled over the top but the pattern was clear: Nairn were cautious and patient and were not going to take the risk of venturing forward unless or until it looked like they had a decent prospect of a reward at the other end.
Formartine therefore held territorial advantage but that did not mean they necessarily held the upper hand. The greatest likelihood of penetrating the increasingly defended visiting penalty area looked to be from Macaulay, who reached the box after a break down the left. Macleod and Hind did enough to keep him close to the by line and
although he managed to squeeze a shot, the angle was too tight and the ball went across the goal face and past the far post.
A lethal break from Nairn came in the 19th minute. Gillespie was fed by MacDonald, played an exchange with Ellis and got to a position a bit beyond the right corner of the box. He pinged an awkward dipping cross towards the back stick which Soutar came to intercept. Attempting to smother the ball he failed to get it, and the super-sharp GETHINS was there to drag it beyond his reach and flip it into the net from close range.
Formartine started the second half promisingly as Bagshaw forced his way through the inside left channel, skinning MacDonald and Mackintosh on his way before leathering the ball goalwards. Ridgers did well but could only parry it out to Stephen who seemed taken somewhat by surprise and ballooned his effort well over the top. Ten minutes later, Robertson released Macaulay but his effort was thwarted when he was simply crowded out at the edge of the area.
A quick ball out of defence from centre half to centre forward found Gethins onside and unmarked but forty yards out. In a flash he was at the edge of the box but defenders were piling back. The ensuing shot was hard and on target but McVittie was on the line to clear just inside the keeper’s left upright. The ball eventually went out for a corner and Nairn stayed in offensive mode for another couple of minutes. Their ploy was to play the ball in from wide and although this exposed some jittery moments in the home defence and had Soutar charging around pursuing lost causes, Formartine weathered the storm.
In the 78th minute Formartine pressure yielded an equaliser. Stephen had made some headway down the right after being fed by sub McGinlay. Dragging the ball wide of the right corner of the box he played a precise but powerful dipping ball towards the back stick. Ridgers went for it but MACAULAY, piling in from the left beat him to it and slotted home from about five yards out for an equaliser that inevitably opened up the game.
Nairn needed a win and had to adopt a more attacking approach. This however was what Formartine needed and with the belief that their goal had given them looked as if they might just collect the points. McGinlay had a decent fifteen yard effort touched onto the upright by the keeper but the ball rebounded to safety. At the other end, Soutar went down smartly to smother a crisp drive from sub Duncanson. Another mazy run by Bagshaw was thwarted by the combined efforts of MacDonald and Hind at the edge of the area.
Had this been boxing Formartine would have won on points but they were up against a very well organised lot of wily professionals who are superbly adept at defending in depth and had the patience to absorb pressure until a decent break emerged. The forthcoming Derby at Inverurie will be a different affair altogether.