AFTER the frantic nature of the two local derby clashes with Huntly this was just the fixture Inverurie Locos needed, a comfortable, if unconvincing, win over the League’s bottom side Fort William.
In a quiet opening it took 20 minutes before the home side forced a save from Ian MacLeod. Finding a weakness down the right flank, Nicky Gordon drove past the defence before crossing the ball in for Jamie Michie. Michie attempted a spectacular bicycle kick, resulting in MacLeod having to tip the ball over the crossbar to safety.
Uncharacteristically trapped in their own half, there was criticism for their lack of creativity from the bench as the Locos defence circulated the ball between themselves. Keiran Adams justified the possession with an excellent long ball down the right flank, allowing Gordon in behind the defence. Andy Low should have done a lot more for the resulting cross as he shanked his shot well over the crossbar.
As Fort William absorbed this pressure, they always looked as if they were capable of creating chances. And as if from nowhere, a pacey through ball was enough to unlock the Locos midfield and allow David Forbes to beat the offside trap. With the home defence rooted to the spot, Forbes attempted to round Reid before seeing his shot smothered.
With the match continuing to coast by, Inverurie suddenly broke the deadlock through a precision set piece on the half hour mark. Jamie Michie provided the inswinging corner to find Kieran ADAMS rising above the defence, before nodding the ball past MacLeod.
It took another set piece for Inveurie to double their lead as half time approached. Yet again, Jamie Michie provided the corner, although it was his second ball into the box after a failed clearance which posed the danger. Spotting Neil GAULD at the back post, Michie swung the ideal ball in for Gauld to force the ball in over the line with a low diving header.
Playing with confidence after the break, Locos started as they finished as Jamie Michie fed Gauld in on goal from midfield, with the striker adding too much power to his 20 yard strike as his shot drifted over the cross bar.
The momentum of the match then swung firmly in the direction of the away side as Fort William earned a penalty from Craig Ross’ apparent hand ball inside the box, as the Locos man attempted to block a low Andrew Martin strike on goal. Darren QUIGG confidently stepped up and drove the ball into the top left hand corner, inches away from Andy Reid’s finger tips.
With the nightmares of last week’s loss of a four goal advantage in the back of Inverurie’s minds, it would’ve come as great relief when Jamie Michie undid the Fort William defence from another set piece. The free kick from midfield appeared innocuous, but Michie’s long ball to Gauld at the back post wrong footed the defence, allowing Gauld’s header back across goal to be easily nodded into the empty net by Nicky GORDON.
Locos looked for a fourth, with only the cross bar denying Nicky Gordon late on as his shot off a Gauld cross rose over the keeper and straight onto the woodwork.
Inverurie Locos: Reid, Adams, Young, Bain, Park, Broadhurst, Ross (Stewart 62), Michie, Gauld, Low, Gordon Subs: Souter, Coull, Buchan, Gray
Fort William: Macleod, MacDonald, Campbell (Duncan 65), Foggo, Martin, Gillespie, Quigg, Farquhar (Corbett 82), Forbes (MacRae 72), Groat Subs:Barker
After the match Locos co-boss Kenny Coull commented, “Fort William were very structured, not really the Fort of old that we know of, they were getting players behind the ball, their workrate was fantastic.
“They were tough to break them down but we let them play the tactic too much. It was not the standard we want, not enough pace in our game, sloppy in approach and not enough quality in our lead up play. The important thing though is getting the three points.
“There was a thought when they scored their penalty that nerves might creep in given what happened at Huntly. But to be honest it wasn’t too bad, I don’t think we were bothered defensively”
This Saturday Locos travel to Mosset Park to face League Champions Forres Mechanics. The kick off is at 3pm.