HIGHLAND League title challengers Inverurie Loco Works and Keith took a break from their respective campaigns to concentrate on Fosters Highland League Cup first round action at Harlaw Park, but the meeting of the sides who have won three of the last four tournaments between them failed to ignite.
In a clash devoid of clear cut chances, injury and suspension hit Locos were floored by two late goals by that deadly double act, Jamie Lennox and Cammy Keith, sealing an away trip to Wick in Round Two.
Keith created the first chance of the match through a cross from Jonathon Watt, Jamie Lennox advanced into the box, but was unable to keep his shot at goal on target, firing his effort from close range over the cross bar.
Locos had to replace hamstring injury victim Kevin Neish with co-boss Kenny Coull early on. . Keiran Adams was first to threaten for the Locos, rising above the Keith defenders to aim his header over Shearer, only to see the keeper collecting the ball at full stretch.
Coull’s experience up from almost paid dividends with 15 minutes played after the player manager knocked down a long ball from the midfield. With Kris Niddrie and Stuart Walker both going for the ball, Jack Strachan was able to take advantage and stroke the ball away from the centre back. With Shearer closing, Strachan saw his low shot drift wide of the far post.
The slow pace dictated in the opening 45 minutes continued during the second half, with play passing on with little excitement. This was broken by a stinging 30 yard drive from John Maitland from a weak clearance, with an unsighted Shearer adjusting his position to make a reaction save.
Andy Reid was to make a far easier save at the midway point in the half, calmly collecting a low 20 yard strike from Cammy Keith.
With just 10 minutes of play remaining in the match, Inverurie were awarded a free kick just yards from the right corner. Jamie Michie provided the cross, with Steven Park flicking the ball on to Strachan, only for the striker to aim his half volley directly at Andy Shearer. With the Locos defence out of position, Keith were to make a swift counter attack which saw the match turn in their favour.
Much of the credit will fall to Cammy Keith, who was able to drop off the shoulder of Adams and run the ball down the right wing. Spotting Jamie Lennox free in the box, Keith laid the ball to his striking partner who duly slotted the ball into the corner from ten yards.
Inverurie were only able to respond through another long range effort from John Maitland minutes after the goal, however, his shot nicked off a defender as it curled through a crowded box and drifted wide of the far post.
With the match in their hands, Keith looked likely to grab another as the match reached its conclusion. Once again, Keith drew the ball away from an attacking Locos move and played a long ball which caught out Andy Reid and Simon Scott. With the two Locos players going for the same ball, Cammy Keith was able to add further pressure, getting his toe onto the clearance, only to see the ball loop out for a goal kick.
Putting this scrappy move behind him, Cammy Keith was to finish off any hopes of a late comeback with a brilliantly executed move in the 89th minute. Substitute Craig McGovern made the run down the left flank which opened up the Locos defence, choosing to play the ball to the feet of Keith via Lennox.
Turning towards goal, Keith drew Reid off his line, composed himself and stroked the ball past the keeper from the tightest of angles, sparking wild celebrations.