THERE was revenge for Inverurie Locos with a 3-1 victory, following their defeat at the hands of Keith in the League Cup Final at the end of the season.
But most important was picking up the full points on a day Formartine and Brora drew with each other, Nairn coming out on top of Wick in the other Top Four clash. #
The victory saw Locos take their week’s goal tally to twelve on the back of victories over Fort William and Peterhead and it had been a real potential banana skin after Keith boss Darren Still announced pre match it was to be his last game in charge after 15 great years with the Kynoch Park club.
Keith scored an early opener when Jonathan SMITH slotted the ball low past Inverurie goalkeeper Andy Reid, the ball coming off Ross Anderson on a ricochet, setting up the centre forward.
Two minutes later Locos equalised when Martin BAVIDGE met a great cross from the right by John Maitland on the volley which went flying past Keith’s goalkeeper Iain MacLeod.
Captain Neil McLean then saw a right foot effort go narrowly wide while Dean Donaldson will feel he should have added to his goal tally when rising to meet a close range header.
Locos were reduced to ten men in the 24th minute with Greg Mitchell getting sent off for a last man challenge on young forward Robbie Collinson. TV highlights clearly showing the full back connected with the ball.
Andy Reid kept the scores level with two great saves from scorer Smith but on the half hour the home team went ahead. Neil Mclean sent a superb cross into the box which Andrew HUNTER headed low past MacLeod into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
With ten minutes remaining until the break, Locos secured their victory through John MAITLAND who headed the ball beyond Keith goalkeeper MacLeod from McLean’s corner on the right.
Despite being down to ten men, the Red and Blacks were never in great danger after the break, Ross Anderson powering a header off the crossbar, MacLeod diving at the feet of the dangerous Bavidge later in the half.
After the match home co boss Kenny Coull said:“We started very poorly and it’s unexpected and put us in position that we needed to work hard straight away.
“However after the five minute spell when they got their goal I think we began to dominate a bit. “Their strikers were very good and kept us on our toes in the first half.
“But it turned out we managed to keep them at bay in the second half. I think we were in control after we went 3-1 up.
“I thought the whole team played well and what Martin Bavidge gives us up front he was very strong and held the ball up for us. He is one of the best in the league
“I didn’t think it was a red card but nothing I say can change the matter. The referee obviously saw something I didn’t see. It was frustrating having to change the shape of the team at that stage”
Finally commenting on the last day of Darren Still’s long Highland League career, he added:“He’s one of the best there’s been around the SHFL, I cannot speak highly enough of him. As a player he dominated games and took that into management.
“He did very well to win silverware at the end of the season with a young squad, he’ll be a big loss to the Highland League.”
• Inverurie Locos make their longest trip of the League season when they travel to Harmsworth Park for a meeting with fellow high flyers Wick Academy. Kick off is at 3pm.