Formartine United’s unbeaten start to the season came to an abrupt end on Saturday when they lost 2-0 at home to Wick Academy.
The North side’s Polish striker Lukasz Geruzel grabbed a double to put an early dent in United’s title hopes.
Formartine probably got slightly the better of the opening stages with the spirited Napier running fast and direct at the heart of the visiting defence.
In the fourth minute Anderson made his return from injury felt by threading a cunning ball between the centre backs to the nippy forward. Napier’s quickly-taken shot was on target but was comfortably gathered by McCarthy.
Wick’s strategy of playing United fast and wide was apparent when Steven fed Allan who got the ball past McKeown, defending the space where Stuart Smith should have been, and whipped it low across the goal face towards the Geruzel. Anderson spotted the danger and made the interception.
The Pitmedden side had slightly the better of overall pressure. They were managing one or two shots on or pretty close to target whereas Wick attacks, nearly always wide, tended to end with balls played into the box and cleared by home defenders.
But it was the visitors who took the lead a minute before the break. Inevitably it was a move down the flank that produced it. Full back Ross Allan surged past Jeffrey and sent the ball into the area, appearing to take a deflection on its way to Geruzel who slipped it past Shearer.
It was Wick who started the second half on the front foot and almost extended their lead within two minutes when a MacAdie free kick beat the four-man wall to produce a stunning diving save from Shearer who clawed the ball away from its net-bound course for a corner.
Formartine optimism persisted for less than five minutes when a near carbon copy of the opening goal left them facing a formidable task - Geruzel slipped the ball over the diving Shearer.
United launched a spirited attempt to get back into the game but at no time did it inspire real confidence.
A 56th minute drive by McVitie found the net, only to be ruled by a late and tight offside call.
There was a sense that it was not going to be Formartine’s day and not for the first time this season they have failed to convert pressure into goals. The evidence is that there are several teams, including 10th placed Wick, that can do just that. All teams go through spells like that but will time alone fix it?
Formartine United: Shearer, Jeffrey, Smith, McKeown, Hay, Munro, Napier, McVitie, Keith, Anderson, Madle. Substitutes: Dingwall, Clark, Bagshaw, French, MacKay, Doak.
Wick Academy: McCarthy, M Steven, R Allan, Farquhar, G.Steven, Campbell, MacAdie, Pickles, Mckay, D Allan, Geruzal. Substitutes: Manson, Cunningham, Weir, Halliday, Hughes, More.