FORMARTINE United completed a League double over Inverurie Locos in a damp squib, Friday night, local derby encounter at Harlaw Park, captain Bobby Mann converting from the penalty spot early to seal the three points.
Locos, on the back of two fine away draws at Wick and Buckie were back to home inconsistency, failing to get out of the starting blocks.
Locos were fortunate not to concede four or five as they started and remained on the back foot. The writing was on the wall before ten minutes were on the clock as a clumsy foul in the box by Graeme Stewart gave the away side an early penalty. His aggressive defending from an in swinging corner gave a chance for Bobby Mann to open the scoring, only for Mann’s strike to be pushed wide of the right hand post by Locos keeper Andy Reid.
Reid was to relish the cheers for only a matter of minutes as Formartine’s next attack saw the keeper sent for an early bath. Daniel Park picked up the ball in the midfield before dancing his way through the Locos defence, forcing Reid to commit himself to a save and in doing so collected both Park and a straight red card. Bobby Mann showing true mettle in taking on the duties after his early miss, put his laces through the ball and sent substitute keeper Daniel Bell the wrong way, Nicky Gordon the forward who was sacrificed in the substitution.
Formartine made their extra man count, stretching Inverurie, Daniel Park raced down the left flank with ease before crossing the ball deep into the box. With the goal at his mercy, William Mathers should have doubled the lead, instead he miss-hit an embarrassing fresh air shot from all of six yards.
Unable to dominate possession, Inverurie were forced to sit back and absorb the onslaught to prevent Formartine from running away with the match. As the defence tightened, Lewis Knight’s trundling effort from the edge of the box proved to be Formartine’s closest effort before the break.
After a quiet opening to the second half, Locos finally had an opportunity to threaten as Bobby Mann was penalised for a pass back after kneeing the ball back to his keeper. Stunned by this decision, Formartine found themselves defending a free kick from inside their own box, only for Clark Bain to release the pressure by driving the ball straight into the wall.
With the clock working against them, it took Inveurie until the 70th minute to truly test Keirin McCaffrey with Jack Strachan‘s speculative effort from 25 yards. The shot did move in the air, but not enough to wrong foot the keeper as McCaffrey palmed the ball wide of the goal.
Locos showed little signs of creating goal scoring opportunities. The closest they were to get came from converted right back Mark Young pressing further up the pitch from position. Spotting Begg free in the box, Young whipped in the perfect cross, only to see the resulting header drift across the face of goal.
An extremely disappointing display and third place looks a tall order now, although Nairn’s defeat at Fraserburgh did resurrect hopes.
Inverurie Locos Reid, Young, McLean, Strachan, Adams (S Park 46), Broadhurst, Ross, Stewart (Low 70), Bain, Begg, Gordon (Bell 12)
Subs: Scott, Michie
Formartine: McCaffrey, Davidson, S Smith, Mann, M Smith, McVitie, C Bagshaw, A Bagshaw (Dunbar 86), D Park, Knight, Mathers (Bailey 75)
Subs: Coyle, McKinnon
After the match a shell-shocked Locos boss Kenny Coull said, “In the first 45 minutes it was disappointing for Scott Buchan and me because our guys never turned up, they weren’t ready for the game. Formartine United showed us up a bit, they were very good in the first half, very sharp.
“It’s very difficult to put a lot of blame on the players, they’ve had a hard shift in the last month to six weeks. It showed but it’s no excuse. The goal was too easy to give away. Andy Reid was fully committed, I feel sorry for him a bit but we can’t argue about the result.
“Bobby Mann was exceptional but how many times did he have to head the ball. We had a game plan but the team never followed it. We played to his strengths and not what we wanted the players to do.
“We worked hard in the second half but never bothered their keeper enough. Never created enough chances but that’s because we never got the ball in the right areas for that to happen.”
Next up for Locos is Rothes away at Mackessack Park this Saturday. Kick off is at 3pm