Breedon Highland League Cup - Round One
Formartine Utd 5 Inverurie Locos 2
Utd: Main, Crawford, Smith, S Anderson, MacPherson, Lawrence (Gethins), MacPhee, Rodger, Wood (Burnett), Norris (C Anderson), Greig. Unused subs - Lawson, Stott, MacDonald
Locos: A Reid, Michie, Crisp, Duff, Souter, Broadhurst, McCabe, McLean, Gauld, Angus, Leyden (Charlesworth). Unused subs - Herd Watt, T Reid, Gordon, Bolton, Cook.
Ref - Cummings.
Stats, Locos first: Shots ON 4-9, Shots OFF 7-10, Fouls 10-12, Corners 1-9, Yellows 1-1, Offside 4-1.
Locos’ abject performance in knock out football continued at a freezing North Lodge Park on Saturday, as the Railwaymen not only threw away a two goal advantage, but contrived to ship four goals in twenty calamitous second half minutes. It’s now seven League Cup exits at Round One or the Pre-lims in the last nine campaigns. Manager Cooper was without dislocated shoulder victim Greg Mitchell, with Connor Rennie injured too, in addition to Messrs Hunter & Smith. The temptation to blood one or more of the young Locos who could be on the cusp of being Aberdeenshire League champions was resisted, disappointing some of the Locos faithful, & instead Jamie Michie & Dan Crisp were in as full backs with Soapy Souter partnering Ryan Broadhurst, not fully fit after a bad foul at Bellslea. It was Leyden, Duff, McLean & McCabe across the middle with Angus & Gauld up top. Formartine obviously started as favourites for the tie & despite having injury issues, fielded a very strong side. There was nothing early on to suggest that this would ultimately be a thoroughly bad day at the office for the visitors & indeed they would go on to the better of the two sides in a free flowing entertaining first half. A Chris Angus flick had Neil Gauld so nearly clean through before Angus broke free again but found his cross/shot caught by Main. Garry Wood was a lucky man to only be lectured for grabbing & holding Ryan Broadhurst in the United box, an Angus shot then flew too high & a Duff direct free kick was also off target. McCabe played in Angus & Kevin Main sped off his line to block with his legs. United finally troubled Reid & the big stopper, fresh from a contract extension, dived full length to tip a Wood header over the bar. Inverurie were worthy of a lead & it came on eighteen minutes. Jordan LEYDEN pounced on a loose ball to drill home. Greig & Lawrence drove wide as the home side tried to level. Chris Angus was crudely fouled by Stuart Anderson & again leniency was the order of the day as another quick chat was the chosen action rather than the expected caution. Angus & McLean had further opportunities before the rather unusual sight of the Formartine coaches, standing outside their technical area rectangle, partially blocking an Angus throw in. Alas this didn’t act as the trigger for the stand side linesman to tidy up the bench & his view along the line remained compromised. Locos were two up with five minutes to go until the half time cuppas. Neil McLean appeared to have taken ownership of a time machine as his waltzed past his younger opponents & fed Chris ANGUS. Chris still has stacks to do & slipped the ball below Main from a tight angle & into the net. Excellent football. Sadly a hapless collapse wasn’t far away. Only the match referee will know why play was still going after the allotted time was up, with no subs, no physio intrusions & no cautions having taken place, but Locos were still at fault for partly ruining a damned good first period performance with the softest of goals conceded. ANDERSON was allowed to trot up from the back & rise without meaningful challenge to get home tails pointing up & Locos heads begin to fill with self doubt. Inverurie had an early second half chance but Angus was left with insufficient targets for his byline drag back. Andrew Greig was stealing in from the left flank & almost pinched a leveller with his shot inches wide. Another pivotal moment next with Joe McCabe presented with a gilt edged chance to get his laces through the ball & crash it home into the Pitmedden net. The player tried to stroke the ball however & it was easily blocked. Formartine immediately blocked & WOOD took advantage of two lucky ricochets to slide the ball home past Reid. Barely two minutes later & Inverurie were looking a jaded, heavy-legged lot. NORRIS was afforded a fifteen yard diameter circle to control the ball with no challenge or closing down, he advanced, again bereft of any Locos company & promptly swept the ball into the roof the net. A neat finish but one that might be more readily seen in a testimonial or charity match. Leyden broke free but his long range effort was too ambitious & flew high. Inverurie were now looking like the side that slumped at Wick, failed at Clach & Turriff, threw away points at home to Nairn & collapsed to Fraserburgh at Harlaw. What an incredible contrast from the first half. Without energy or pace in this Locos side, this match was over with more than thirty minutes to play. Charlesworth was introduced for Leyden but no other fresh players from the bench were fielded. It was 4-2 on sixty seven minutes. MACPHEE had been the best home player all afternoon, making some observers wonder why he wasn’t plying his trade at a higher level, & capitalised on more hesitancy & confusion at the back. Seventy six minutes & a cast iron United penalty. Andy Reid was left wholly unprotected & was forced to foul the onrushing attacker. GREIG shot home with Reid yellowed for booting the ball into the Pitmedden darkness. Understandable frustration from the goalie. United sub Burnett could have been red carded for an off the ball lashing out at skipper McLean but the referee opted for the yellow card. Norris drew another fine Reid save before McLean closed out this match with a brave charge down of a clearance & surging run with the final shot just wide of the far post. And so it was the fourth cup exit of the season & only the league card left to complete. Locos fans leaving NLP were debating if these games will see the side put on a run & performances more akin to the last record-breaking campaign, or if the campaign will meander to a mid table conclusion. Buckie visit Harlaw on Saturday (24th), on SHFL duty