SATURDAY proved to be an all-round washout of a day as constant swirling rain was the Harlaw Park setting for Inverurie Locos’ proud four month long League unbeaten run being blown apart 2-1 by Ian Polworth’s young Clachnacuddin side.
It had taken twelve long years of meetings between the sides for the Merkinchers to win for the first time, when they came out on top in midweek action late last season. This loss was of far bigger damage, the Inverurie side losing out on keeping pressure on the teams above them.
Dean Donaldson for the holidaying Jordan Leyden was the only change from the side that had done so well to win 5-1 at Huntly. And it looked good again as top scorer Neil Gauld tried a 20 yard speculative effort ironically with exactly 20 seconds of the match gone.
Play quickly swung to the other end and amazingly it was the visitors grabbing the lead just inside the first minute. Michael FINNIS was left in some space on the edge of box and his hard hit shot took a wicked deflection on its way past Andy Reid.
Locos looked to get quickly back level, John Maitland supplying the incisive cutting pass for Mark Souter. Although his first touch was a bit too strong, the combative midfielder raced towards John Campbell who came out to make the vital necessary block.
The home side were all square soon after, 12 minutes gone. Captain Neil McLean’s cross was not cleared properly allowing Neil GAULD to quickly think and hook the ball spectacularly with a perfect dip over Campbell into the net.
The lead was almost taken six minutes later as Gauld and Martin Bavidge linked up in a fast paced move, the No 9 feeding on to his ex-Peterhead colleague who quickly scooped the ball just over the crossbar.
Sadly for the sparse 250 support braving the horrible elements, the rest of the half was instantly forgettable with no goalmouth action of note.
Locos came out of the traps desperate to replicate their opponents’ first half success, a corner from Neil McLean in a crowded box finding big Kieran Adams at the back post, but his header struck the top of the cross bar and went over.
However the game again descended into mediocrity, the young Clach team standing up firm, the Red and Blacks getting more and more frustrated at the lack of breakthrough, Ross Anderson racing forward and firing a low long ranger well wide of Campbell’s goal.
The boredom was eased when another McLean set piece again found Adams in the box, this time the header landing safely in the hands of Campbell.
With news of Brora and Nairn winning comfortably away from home but Formartine losing, nothing less than a win seemed good enough. But on the counter attack sub Neil McDonald caused problems, intercepting a Ryan Broadhurst clearance. and testing Andy Reid with a spinning shot .
The warning was not heeded. With only four minutes left, McDonald followed the path of a through ball, drew Andy Reid off his line then squared to the unmarked Martin Laing to place the ball carefully into the corner of the net.
Now a draw had to be the best result possible and, although Gauld almost equalised as the referee blew for full time, it really had been a below par display which was totally out of character. But on the whole the biggest frustration was that the unbeaten record had gone.
Locos: Reid, Mclean, Young (Ross 61), Souter, Adams, Anderson, Maitland, Broadhurst, Gauld, Bavidge, Donaldson
Subs: Begg, Mitchell, Coull, Mathieson
Clach: Campbell, Skinner, Finnis, Laing, Williamson, McKenzie, Lawrie, Brindle (Dougall 81), Whyte (N Macdonald 78) R Macdonald, Callum (Ellis 76)
Subs: Mclean, Fraser
Referee: M Stewart