Formartine United 2 Forres Mechanics 0

October 7, 2023

Match Report by Colin Keenan

Following a protracted period of procrastination the match officials started this game 9 minutes late on a pitch that justified their decision to play it on a wet surface that was soft on top but where the ball ran and bounced predictably enough.

Perhaps a shade less predictable was the quality of the Forres team that played more capably and were better organised than their league position in the lower half of the table suggested. They made Formartine work hard enough for their points but never really pressed them long enough at a time to suggest that they could prevent the eventual outcome.

Formartine came into this one after a very high tempo, energy sapping win at Bellslea three nights before and this coupled with the heavy underfoot conditions meant that the normal snap and fizz of their pass and move game occasionally lacked its customary lustre. That said they still performed well enough to emerge as convincing winners.

They have assembled a strong squad with quality throughout which given the number of absences through injury of those who were usually in the starting eleven (Crawford, Norris, and Park) might suggest limitations here, but none were apparent.

The game started with United moving the ball about well and retaining possession enough to prod and probe for openings and weaknesses in the visitors who in turn worked hard for each other and made occasional forays into United territory. It was notable that Forres had done their homework and had identified the threat that United carried through their front pair of Wade and Campbell and deployed resources accordingly to mark both closely when United were in possession.

The intention was clear but there were other options available and it was noticeable that United were gaining traction elsewhere and by other means. Their opening goal came early in the game, something that has been a rather frequent occurrence this season.

Most of the heavy lifting for this came through the work of right back Lewis Wilson who not for the first or last time in this game made a dangerous run down the flank and after exchanging passes with Rodger, swung the ball diagonally across the Mechanics’ penalty area where it was deflected into the path of the pacy LISLE who had scorched down the inside left channel before driving the ball hard and fast keeper Herbert, from 10 yards, in the 9th minute, his second goal in successive games.

The remainder of the first half was dominated but not that strongly by Formartine who pressed quite hard at times but found a well drilled visiting rear guard  largely able to restrict their entry to and time in the penalty area. This was interspersed with periods United pressure on and around that area along with a number of breakaways , mostly down the flanks and usually involving Mackenzie and/or Cairns. United were well enough defended to restrict them to relatively long range speculative efforts.

The start of the second half saw a concerted push by United to dominate the final third at the village end of the park. This was probably the best part of the game for the home side and was quickly rewarded by a second goal. Like many of United’s goals this season, its foundation was laid by the combination of Campbell and Wade who despite being closely marked found a way for the former to feed the latter and slip the ball right and teed up enough for Marc LAWRENCE to drop a shoulder to swivel round and volley the ball into the net leaving Herbert with no chance from about 12 yards out, his debut goal at the club.

The two goal cushion was all that United needed to trouser all the points and although it turned out to be comfortable enough in the end it looked quite fragile for a period just after the 60th minute during which time the visitors forced a penalty and saw a shot rebound from the woodwork. The 62nd minute penalty came after Grant was brought down by a slightly rearward tackle by Thomas. The kick wasn’t the best and Cairns struck it a bit to the left of keeper Macdonald but by no means to the corner and without much venom to it and the keeper made a fairly comfortable save. The shot off the woodwork came after a period of United pressure at the other end and a breakaway found McLauchlin at the edge of the box with only the keeper to beat before his shot hit the keeper’s right stick.

United looked in no further danger and maintained a generally attacking posture right until the end.