It’s only in football that you can be gutted after you have been stuffed, but that’s an experience that is becoming increasingly familiar for Formartine’s faithful. Keith had played in midweek, suffering a few casualties in the process; Formartine were facing their first game in 6 weeks. In normal circumstances, a bit of rustiness could reasonably have been expected, but in the event something far more corrosive than iron oxide was there for all to see: having started the game by mounting wave upon wave of attack on the home goal, taking an early lead and generally dominating proceedings, Formartine utterly caved in to the fight back of a competent, decently organised but far from outstanding mid table team. The manner and extent of this capitulation revealed a level of commitment on the part of several players that was clearly inconsistent with the ambition of the management, committee and supporters of the club that pays their wages. Several supporters confessed to a real feeling of having been short changed.
The game, on a very soft surface where the bounce of the ball was going to be unpredictable, began with Formartine bursting out of the starting blocks and laying siege to the home goal. Soane, Callum Bagshaw and Macaulay were pulling the midfield strings and threatened for the first fifteen minutes to overwhelm their hosts, producing 5 corners without reply. Mann flipped a perfectly weighted ball down the left to Stephen who streaked past Stewart cut into the box and fired a fizzing drive that Kinnaird did well to get his body behind before beating the ball away for a corner which was cleared only as far as Robertson lurking in a hole just beyond the left corner of the box. His prodigious drive was tipped over the top by the well worked keeper. A Bobby Mann free kick opportunity in his favourite place a couple of yards outside the box had the visiting supporters salivating with anticipation but uncharacteristically it was struck, or miss hit, tamely into the wall.
The barrage continued, mostly from the left but the opening goal, in the 7th minute came from the other side. McVittie’s throw was chested down and returned to him by Bagshaw. McVittie slipped into the inside right channel and whipped the ball diagonally across the box to find Macaulay who had slipped his marker, gathered the ball with his left foot transferred it to his right and almost without breaking stride, rifled it waist high beyond the reach of the diving keeper’s right hand.
Keith’s response was immediate, direct and determined. Cammy Keith broke through down the middle and got clear in on Souter who did well to block with his legs before Stewart Smith hoofed the ball to safety. Formartine went back on the offensive but even then, the pattern of the game was beginning to change. Although the visitors still held the whip hand for another ten minutes or thereby, Keith began to show that they could force their way to a stuttery looking Formartine rearguard. MacAskill in particular showed the pace, balance and mobility to cause problems and as always, the lurking presence of the quicksilver Cammy Keith needed constant attention.
In the 16th minute the Keith brothers linked well as Sean set up Cammy for another one on one with Soutar. Again the keeper stood his ground well and blocked with his legs, but by now Keith were giving as good as they got and Formartine were showing the beginnings of the malaise that was ultimately to prove fatal. They were letting Keith get to the ball first and increasingly losing their grip of midfield. On a pitch where the bounce of the ball[if it came at all] was consistent only in its unpredictability the name of the game was to attack it early. Keith clocked that; Formartine failed to and the game turned further in the home side’s favour. In the twenty first minute Cammy Keith beat Stewart Smith to the ball on the outer left edge of the box but was fouled on his way past. The defender was yellow carded for the late challenge and with brotherly loyalty, Sean Keith stepped up and launched a superb, Bobby Mann- like free kick round the wall and well beyond Soutar for the equaliser. Formartine faded further and for the second half of the first period, Keith assumed the dominance with which Formartine had started it. With some luck and reinforcement to their defence as Soane and Macaulay retreated increasingly into their own area Formartine contained the increasing pressure that Keith were exerting on them, until the interval. For all their possession and territorial dominance Keith lacked the flair to carve out as many clear cut chances as their pressure might have created. Fowlie had the best of the few on offer when he thumped a low one from about fifteen yards. Souter was down for it but needed two attempts to get the ball clear for an unrewarded corner.
Whatever was done or said in the dressing rooms over the interval it was clear that Keith tails were up and Formartine heads were down. Keith went on the attack from the outset but there now seemed to be something more purposeful about the way they went about it. The proof of the pudding came in the shape of two decent, if unrewarded attempts both of which were orchestrated by Anderson who was really buzzing by now. In the 47th minute he fed up Cammy Keith for a clear chance close in on Soutar who produced a double save with a block from close range and a tip away off the rebound. Formartine were already living dangerously and a fierce drive by MacAskill flew inches wide. The home-side got their noses in front in the 56th minute. It was as exhilarating for Keith as it was embarrassing for Formartine. MACASKILL was first to a fifty fifty ball not far out of the centre circle and ran directly at the Formartine defence which simply parted to give him the space he sought.
continued on pg 39...