Formartine United 2 Huntly 1

March 9, 2024

Breedon Scottish Highland Football League.  Saturday 9th March 2024, North Lodge.

Formartine United 2

Scorers: Johnny Crawford (22), Julian Wade (90+2).

Huntly 1

Scorers: Andrew Hunter (79).

Match Report by Colin Keenan

Recent results meant a certain measure of anxiety about how Formartine might handle this important home tie was never going to be too far from the surface. In the end both the score line and performance that underpinned it emerged more as causes for celebration than anxiety as United kept themselves in the mix at the top end of the league in fourth place with games in hand over some key challengers although the prospects of halting the Brechin bandwagon are less than convincing.

Formartine were made to work for this victory but however late the winning goal was in arriving it was still fully consistent with the run of play where they had the lions’ share of territory and possession.

The game started at breakneck pace with a Huntly attack down the centre right route as Foster played in Grant about 18 yards out who tried a cheeky low dink across goal that nicked the outside of the back post on its way out of play. A warning perhaps but the level of threat was insufficient to raise any real anxiety in the home defence. Play settled quite quickly into a pattern of two attack minded sides probing for weaknesses to exploit in the others set up. In this the home side were slightly the slicker and more enterprising and soon showed that they were able to put together bursts of pressure on the visitors enough to yield a few corners and it was no real surprise that Formartine were the first to score. The normally uber reliable right back Jonny Crawford had an uncharacteristic blip in the previous game up at Wick when a miserable miscommunication between himself and the keeper shipped an embarrassing goal. Typical of the character of the guy was his determination to compensate for that by coring in this game.

A spell of United dominance yielded them a 20th minute free about 18 yards out and well left of centre.The increasingly impressive Lewis Duncan played the ball dipping into a throng in the box where it spun off to CRAWFORD who took relish in leathering it well past the reach of Hobday.

This was much more like United of earlier in the season. They were moving the ball about well and against a lesser side than Huntly might have been even more dominant than they were. They were by and large in control of the game and looking as comfortable as a single goal lead can ever let you in the Highland League. However there is always the risk that something can come out almost from nowhere to upset the applecart. In this case it turned out to be a rather freakish free kick. It’s not that the free awarded just on the cusp of the “D” beyond the 18 yard line was particularly controversial, it was the freakish deflection it took from the wall that fair flummoxed the entire United defence as the ball completed its net bound journey. Andrew HUNTER had the gall to celebrate as if the goal had been the result of a considered strike rather than a freak result.

However the game still had more than ten minutes to run and for Karma to operate. Julian Wade is always an absolute handful for any defence. His pace, strength on the ball and array of trickery mean he can never be ignored and this game demonstrated clearly the danger he posed as deep in stoppage time he came up with a trademark finish. Linking with Reid he caused mayhem in the box and crowded out by a bunch of defenders still managed to get the ball to the big striker whose shot was parried by Hobday but no further than the pestilent presence of the persistent “Ju Ju” who was onto it in a flash, the ball was in the net and United instantly trousered all three points.

Formartine United: 1. Ewen MacDonald, 2. Johnny Crawford, 3. Stuart Smith, 4. Lewis Duncan, 5. Matthew McLean, 6. Aaron Norris (15. Kieran Adams 75 min), 7. Julian Wade, 8. Graeme Rodger © (16. Marc Lawrence 80), 9. Aaron Reid, 10. Paul Campbell (14. Aiden Combe 86 min), 11. Adam Emslie. Unused Subs: 12. Scott Lisle, 17. Kevin Hanratty, 21. Cameron Middleton.

Huntly: Fraser Hobday, 2. James Connelly, 5. Michael Clark ©, 6 Ross Still, 7. Robbie Foster, 8. Ryan Sewell, 9. Andrew Hunter, 10. Angus Grant (16. Brodie Allan 89 min), 17. George Craig (22. Lewis Crosbie 65 min), 18. Finlay Allan (11. Callum Murray 54 min), 20. Blair McKenzie. Unused Subs: 3. Alexander Jack, 19. Matthew Wallace, 23. Kyle Morrison (GK), 24. Leon Etko.