INVERURIE Locos slim chances of winning the title this year took a dent as they, like many before them, were unable to take all three points from Harmsworth Park, home of Wick Academy.
However teams teams provided a spectacular encounter for the gathered crowd.
Davie Allan had the first real break of the game nine minutes in when he burst through the Locos defence with a powerful run, and just as he looked as if he was going to get a shot off, Ryan Broadhurst got a foot in and nicked the ball.
A minute later Cunningham played Allan in on goal again and his shot was flicked for a corner off a defender. Michael Steven got his head to the corner but keeper Andy Reid palmed it round his post.
It was the visitors who went ahead when former Brora Rangers midfielder Scott Begg rifled the ball into the roof of the net from four yards out in the 16th minute to give the Locos the lead after Marc Young’s shot had been parried by Michael Gray.
The Locos looked firm favourites to go on and win the game when two minutes later Michael Steven received a straight red card from referee Martin Kerrigan for a physical two footed tackle on John Maitland who was replaced soon after.
Academy looked as if they had scored with just over a half hour played when Sam Mackay worked his way into the box before passing to Davie Allan. The ball broke off Allan and looked goal-bound but keeper Reid got something on it and the spin on the ball took it just wide of the post.
A minute later the Harmsworth roar must have been heard across the town, when Academy worked the ball into the Locos box. Steven Cunningham took it on his chest with back to goal, the ball dropped to his feet and his shot crept inside Reid’s left hand post.
In the final action of the half it was the Locos that should have taken the lead. A corner was delivered into the box and was met by the forehead of Kieren Adams who ghosted in unmarked but his powerful header went high of the target.
Locos started the second half at a high tempo forcing a corner in the first minute. It was fired into the Academy box and in a desperate scramble Ross Allan saved a certain goal when he cleared it off the line.
The match started to hot up and in a five minute period Clark Bain picked up two yellow cards and joined Michael Steven for an early bath. Steven Park and Nicky Gordon also had their names added to the referee’s note-book.
In the next Locos attack Michael Gray pulled off a great blocking save from an Andy Low shot and the ball fell to Scott Begg but he skied his follow-up over the cross-bar.
By this stage of the game it was end-to-end stuff and Stewart Ross dinked the ball over the top of the Locos back-line for Sam Mackay and he took one touch before attempting to chip it over Andy Reid who had gone down low, but got a hand to the ball to make a good save.
Academy started to look as if they could sniff a win and Macadie came on for Mackay. Macadie was minutes on the park when he put keeper Reid under pressure as he tried to kick out a back-pass and Reid smacked the ball against Macadie but it spun just past the post with the net laying empty.
At the other end Locos came close when Craig Ross broke to the right edge of the Academy box and unleashed a pile-drive that smacked off the outside of Gray’s left hand post and behind.
With two minutes on the clock Academy were winding up for a grandstand finish and went within a whisker of scoring the winner. Macadie drove down the right flank, cut inside the box and fired the ball across goal where Davie Allan went full length to try to get a toe on the ball but it just evaded him and went wide of target.
In the last kick off the game Davie Allan broke free of his marker and charged to the right edge of the Locos box. Keeper Reid came to meet him and Allan smacked a right foot shot on the run. The ball went past the outstretched Reid but whistled beyond the keeper’s right hand post.
Inverurie Locos: Reid; Michie; Park (Scott 80); Bain; Adams; Broadhurst; Young; Ross; Gauld (Low 36); Begg; Maitland (Gordon 24)
After the match Locos First Team Coach Chris Ainslie commented, “There was definitely frustration on both sides causing a lot of the incidents but I think the tackle on John Maitland certainly merited a red. He could be out for the rest of the season, we will find out at training how bad he is but his ankle is really swollen.
“Clark Bain picked up a second yellow but I think, like some of the other tackles, it was a bit latchy, certainly not a dirty game
“A few teams still have to go to Harmsworth, a lot of other teams will struggle, they dominate teams on their own patch
“Scott Begg and Craig Ross had chances to score but in all honesty the best chances fell to them and in the light of that a point is not a bad point and I think we were glad of it. “It’s hard work going up the slope on the back of a very long journey.”
Friday night will see the big local derby between Inverurie Locos and Formartine United with kick off at 8pm.