Formartine United 2 Turriff United 1
There was never going to be any question about the ferocity with which this, the first of the festive season double header between the two was going to be played. League form and position were not the issue: this was all about bragging rights between two long-standing rivals from days in the Junior Superleague trying to outdo each other at Highland League level. The game was unexpectedly more about grit than silk but no less entertaining for it. The visitors were left with a mountain to climb after keeper Pennet was dismissed shortly before half time but to their credit, did their damndest to do just that throughout the second half.
The game started briskly in front of a large and vocal crowd and tackles were initially marked more by ferocity than finesse and with Formartine’s reputation as shrinking violets possessed of soft centres preceding them, Turra set about testing that assumption from the outset. A two footed lunge by MacKenzie on Ross Campbell produced an early sight of yellow in the 7th minute. A minute later some pacy stuff from Harris got him in position to set up Taylor with a drive from the edge of the area, but it was a rushed effort that went both high and wide.
Formartine showed their attacking credentials five minutes later when the mercurial Stephen cut in from the inside left channel and set out along the front edge of the box hunting for the space to turn and shoot. This was denied in rather summary form by Anderson who simply brought him down. The offence was a couple of yards outwith the box and in a perfect position for a Bobby MANN special. With all the skill and judgement of his two decades in the game, he produced a scintillating example of his art. The ball was struck with the precision to get up and over the wall before swerving left into the opposite corner of the net well beyond a transfixed Pennet. There must be few if any anywhere in the Scottish game who can match his hit rate in such set pieces: he has done exactly the same against Forres, Fraserburgh and Locos this season already.
Turra were stung and tried to restore the status quo within a minute when a Brownie drive prompted a a long legged sprawling stop from Bremner. Things were reasonably balanced although both sides were trying to get the ball from back to front by the most direct route when, perhaps a shorter passing game might have served their purposes better. Nonetheless it was entertaining fare. Mackay was on song and linking well with Stephen began to test the capacity of the Turra back line. A clipped shot from the edge of the box after the wide man had played him in wasn’t much too high and Formartine began a phase of breaking fast from deep areas and looked as likely to increase their lead as to surrender it.
A free from McVittie had Pennet struggling to punch it clear. He managed to do so but at the expense of a corner as the ball skelped off the back of his manager’s head for an unrewarded corner. Formartine were looking more and more of a threat but still could not get their noses any further in front. This looked to be distinctly on the cards in the 41st minute when Man lobbed a long one forward from an area between the box and the centre circle and Mackay was after it like a rat up a spout. Pennet saw the danger and ran forward to close down the Kaiser. Just as the forward was about to chest the ball down the keeper parried it away from him. He was well outside the box at the time and a red card was immediately issued. Rules are rules but a free kick and a booking would seem to be fairer recompense to the attacking side than a decision that could only change the game for the poorer. Turra , rather strangely chose to put striker Jerry O’Driscoll in goal and deny themselves the attacking assets of a player who looked to be their greatest goal threat. Bobby Mann was again up to take the resulting free, but despite getting the ball up and down, and keeping it on target, Herd intervened as he managed to launch himself at the ball to head clear.
Turra hung on well until half time as Formartine piled forward trying to cash in on their ill- gotten numerical gain.
The second half began with a brief Formartine flurry but once they realised that there were to be no easy pickings their momentum abated enough for Turriff to give just as good as they got. In the 53rd minute, they set up a decent chance from a slick overlapping move between Allan and Mackenzie that ended with the latter blasting the ball high, wide and anything but handsomely over the top from about 15 yards. The more Turra with their depleted numbers tried to impose themselves on Formartine, the greater the risk they ran of getting caught short at the back. In the 62 minute a through ball from Davidson to Mackay down the right exposed the visiting defence. The tenacious Mackay chased down Simpson, robbed him and streaked off towards the corner flag before cutting a pacy ball back across the box and right into the path of STEPHEN steaming in from the opposite flank. From the corner of the box the wide man set himself before leathering the ball hard and low beyond O’Driscoll.
While this may have put the game finally beyond the visitors’ reach, the festive fun and frolics were far from finished and a real rip snorter of a finish ensued. The action was end to end: Stephen had a snap shot from the edge of the area that slipped wide while Allan did much the same at the other end. The old war horse Mann was replaced in the 70th by Macaulay and Formartine ratcheted up their attacking force. A speedy one two between the sub and Stephen ended with Macaulay getting to the winger’s cross at the back stick and hammering the ball goalward but O’Driscoll was down in a flash to block the shot.
Harris tried a long range effort but it was booted clear by Campbell. Macaulay with his fresh legs was onto the clearance and took the ball 50 yards forward before slipping it into the path of Callum Bagshaw whose drive hit the junction of bar and upright before rebounding off the goal line whence it was somehow hacked clear. Along ball up the park left Robbie ALLAN one on one with Bremner. Carrying the ball into the box he slotted the ball home for a consolation goal. It was deep in stoppage time and the game was restarted only to be immediately concluded.
Formartine United: Bremner, Davidson, S.Smith, Mann, Campbell, McVittie, Bagshaw, M.Smith, Mackay, Robertson, Stephen: Subs: Macaulay Soane,Forbes, Peck, Soutar.
Turriff United: Pennet, Herd, Bowden, Anderson, Simpson, Brownie, Harris, MacKenzie, O’Driscoll, Taylor, Allan. Subs: Chalmers, Liggertwooid, Young, Gauld, Cowie.