Ellon AFC were away to University Strollers at Balgownie in yet another relegation dogfight. Ellon were seeking their third win in a row under the stewardship of Jim Booth. Strollers could only field the bare eleven but nothing could be taken for granted with three points vital to both teams in their battle to beat the drop.
University started the brighter of the 2 teams with Williams and Leiper prominent going forward and it took a few minutes for Ellon to get into their stride.
Ellon should have taken the lead when a neat flick by Smith found Bain in space. The striker controlled the ball and rounded the keeper only to put the ball wide with the goal gaping.
Bain had another chance to bag the opener when he flicked an effort by Buchan over.
In 13 minutes Ellon did find the scoring touch as Smith made a good break down the right and his cross was met at the back post by the onrushing Thomson who fired home his thirteenth goal of the season. A great return from the young winger.
Two minutes later Ellon added a second as Bain broke free on the left and his deep cross was met by Smith and his deft header found the net.
University were still dangerous and centre forward Williams forced a good save from Dickinson. It was no surprise that they got a goal back in 23 minutes as Williams showed his power to hold off Birnie and fire past Dickinson to give the students some hope.
This goal seemed to really get the home side going as they passed up a succession of chances. The best of which saw Anderson hit the post with a great curling effort.
Half time 1-2
Ellon got on the front foot early in the half after a dressing down from manager Booth during the interval and 2 minutes into the half they went further ahead as Hamilton was deemed to have been upended at the corner of the box by Leiper.
Smith stepped up and easily deceived the static Thomson from the spot to notch his second of the game
Leiper for Strollers saw his great run finish with a good strike on goal but Dickinson was once more on hand to save,
But the powerful midfielder was proving a handful for the Ellon side.
With 10 minutes of the half gone Ellon finished the game as a contest when Hamilton met a Longmuir corner and his well guided effort found the net via the head of defender Hogan on the line.
A couple of minutes later University were really struggling when Abadi was sent from the field for dissent.
But the sending off seemed to fire up the home side and they battled their way back into the game. A deep free kick by Leiper was met by Holman and his header found the bottom corner.
Bain had a good chance to clinch the game for the visitors when Longmuir and Smith combined to put him through on goal and once again the chance was spurned.
A bad day at the office for the usually prolific striker.
Ellon did put the game to bed with 15 to go but they required another penalty to get there. Thomson played a quick one two with Bain inside the box and as the winger bore down on goal he was taken down by Hogan
Smith stepped up and scored but the penalty had to be retaken for encroachment. Smith then calmly put his second effort in the exact same corner as his first giving the keeper no chance.
Giving the experienced striker his second hat-trick of the season.
With 10 minutes left manager Booth rang the changes as legs began to tire and Taylor and Finnie replaced Slesser and Smith. Paul Ironside came on up front to see if he could use his experience to put Ellon further ahead.
But the changes led to more chances for Strollers with free headers inside the box for both Guyan and Williams. Dickinson also had to look lively to tip and fierce 25 yard effort from Mackintosh round the post
Ellon did break forward twice more as they looked to stretch their lead but good chances for both Bain and Ironside were blocked by a game home defence.
Final Score 2-5 in favour of Ellon AFC
A well deserved victory against a depleted University line up but Ellon made much harder work of the win that it should have been. Missed chances and slack defending made this a much more demanding encounter than expected and the performance level will need to be upped against better opposition. Nevertheless another three points gained in the fight to stay in the Division.
Man of the Match
Ellon : Andy Dickinson
University Strollers : Luke Leiper
Dickinson, Sutherland, Morrison, Buchan, Slesser, Birnie, Longmuir, Hamilton, Bain, Smith, Thomson
Subs : Cumming, Ironside, Nicol, Finnie, Taylor