Formartine United 3 Brora Rangers 3

November 11, 2023

Breedon Scottish Highland Football League. Saturday 11th November 2023

Formartine United 3 (Dylan Lobban (16, Pen), Julian Wade (45+2, 48)

Brora Rangers 3 (Jordan Macrae (35), Max Ewen (45, 58)

Match Report by Colin Keenan

From the perspective of the neutral spectator this was a supremely exciting game to watch; from that of a fan committed to either of the protagonists it would have been a source of significant frustration. If Brechin or Buckie is your fancy you’d delight in two major contenders for the league title taking points off each other.

The game started and finished with Formartine at the top of the league and Brora back in 6th position but, significantly with three games in hand and an 8 point gap between them. Both would dearly have loved the three points for winning this one. With so much at stake it was no surprise that the game played out more like a cup tie than a league fixture conducted throughout at a furious lick and having more than its fair share of goal mouth incidents and defensive errors.

Brora were clearly up for it and attacking the village end immediately took the game to United with a sweeping move that concluded with a Kelly cross from a few yards shy of the right corner being swung towards the United goalmouth to be comfortably taken by keeper Macdonald. In the process an off the ball coming together between United captain/midfield general Rodger and Ewen saw the former on the deck for some time receiving attention to his right leg and still hirpling for some time afterward.

Within minutes Formartine were showing their attacking prowess too and a thrust started by Lobban brought in three or four united players before across from the right by Emslie stretched Ross to haul it down from just under the bar. In the 18th minute a run down the right side and in towards the Brora box by Wade caused panic in the Brora defence as Williamson hauled the United forward to the ground then had a lunge at him as he rose. This was just inside the right edge of the Brora box, the penalty was given and slotted home hard and low to the left corner of the net by LOBBAN - just the start United wanted.

The sensible thing for them would be to maintain pressure to control any attempts by Brora to level the game but they failed to do so and the visitors started to press for an equaliser. It took them another 18 minutes to get it and it was an embarrassing error by the home defence that brought it about. A free kick was awarded to Brora about 25-30 yards out and a bit left of centre. United did nothing really to prepare for it and most defenders were in a knot round the site of kick apparently discussing how to defend the free. Before they had decided anything Brora had taken it quickly-simply slipping the ball forward left a couple of yards for MACRAE. With atleast 4 or 5 United players still facing the wrong way, the striker just ran in on goal and drove the ball into an all but unprotected net.

Not United’s finest hour and not what a serious contender for the title would do, this visibly switched the momentum away from United and firmly in Brora’s direction and it took only another 5 minutes for the visitors to rub salt in the wound with another goal on the back of a defensive error. This time Kelly swung a rather innocuous looking cross from wide right towards Sutherland near “the D” in front of the United box. Wilson had more time and space than Dr Who to nip in and head the ball away, His header was both under struck and miss-directed and placed the ball in the path of max EWAN who simply slotted it home to put United behind.

Formartine are however resilient and roared straight back into it with apiece of Wade magic. Lobban latched on to a loose ball just short of halfway and moved forward right with it before feeding it down the flank to WADE who did the rest. Accelerating past Nicholson and Gillespie he let fly from tight angle leathering the ball 25 yards into the net neatly inside the far post to restore not only parity to the game but belief and optimism to his side on the stroke of half time.

Wade was not yet finished. The second half was barely 2 minutes old when a Norris pass to the left centre of the Brora 18 yard line was flicked on by Campbell towards Lisle but the alert WADE wrong footed Kelly and Nicolson and to pinch the ball and crash it from 15 yards out high in the net for 3-2.

Brora levelled again in the 78th minute after a brief period of sustained pressure. Dingwall got a sniff of goal from a Sutherland feed at about 15 yards range and central. Macdonald was down to his left but could do no more than push the ball away, but sadly close to EWAN who slipped the ball home. Both sides continued hard at it in search of an elusive clincher but the scoreline remained stubbornly level.

Formartine United Team: Macdonald, Wilson, Smith, Lobban, (Crawford 85) Maclean, Lisle, Wade, Rodger, Campbell (Lawrence 67), Norris, Emslie. Unused Subs: Spink, Stewart, Combe, Alberts, Anderson, Watson.

Brora Rangers Team: Ross, Williamson, Nicolson, Gillespie (Brindle 76), Dingwall (Maclean 76), J. Macrae (Wallace 67), Sutherland (MacLeod 67) Kelly, Ewan, Strachan, Mackinnon. Unused Subs: A. Macdonald, A. Macrae, G. Macdonald, Gillan.