Formartine United 3 Threave Rovers 2

September 23, 2023

Match Report by Colin Keenan

When the draw for the first round of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup was made the first question the United faithful had was “Far’s Threave?”. Fortunately for them it was the Dumfriesshire West of Scotland League side who had to face the 500 mile round trip from Castle Douglas. They returned disappointed after an utterly enthralling tussle where they overcame a two goal interval deficit only to be bested in the 86th minute by a superb winner by close season signing Jake Stewart.

The game began at the sort of pace that that only the adrenaline fuelled excitement engendered by the national Cup can engender and both sides were as quick to get the ball forward as they were to close down space for opponents. It took only until the 7th minute for United to make their first impression on the score sheet. After a thrust down the left side was partially repulsed, the ball was picked up on the halfway line and played long and left by McLean to Lobban who saw off a challenge near the right touchline before turning in left to deliver a perfectly weighted cross to meet the back post run of Julian ”Juju “ WADE who crashed home a forceful downward header.

Once ahead, United began to impose their pattern on proceedings and for all that Threave would chase and harry, the home side were beginning to retain possession a shade more than Rovers and their attacks rather better sustained than those delivered in return. Nonetheless these still carried a fair level of menace and one in the 20th minute was seriously threatening when after a decent period of possession Threave found themselves squeezed into a cul-de-sac near the right corner flag until the arrival of Dunglinson gave the option of a way out when he collected the ball and made enough space for himself to crash a vicious 20 yard shot off the crossbar.

That was as much warning as United needed for them to realise how precarious a single goal lead in this competition can be. For the remainder of the half they worked hard to increase their lead and did so in the 40th minute. Again the goal began with MacLean in his own half. This time it was his epically long throw down the left that started the process when it reached Wade who saw off the close attentions of both Douglas’ and Park to get in a cross straight to the head of CAMPBELL who headed home at the back post sending the ball hard across the line of the keeper’s advance and into the far corner.

From then until the interval Formartine pressed for a third and in the 45th minute mounted a barrage of shots from various points round and within the perimeter of the box.  Corners from each side initiated shots from Wade, Emslie, Rodger and others all of which were well enough directed but either rebounded from different parts of various defenders or were blocked by the keeper.

Perhaps counting themselves fortunate not to be three adrift, Threave started the second half looking slicker and more confident and set about testing United’s defensive qualities. The tempo looked to have dropped a little and play became more studied and patterned. In the 62nd minute Threave had a free about 20 yards out and maybe three in from the left touchline. Sloane swung this into the densely populated goalmouth and in the ensuing melee the referee decreed a handball by home captain Rodger and immediately ordered a penalty. This seemed harsh and since he appeared to have been pushed by a Threave forward so that his hands could not be by his side as he strove to maintain balance before the ball struck him.  Given current guidance on the matter the position of the hand seems to be the operant factor and intent, irrelevant.  DUNGLINSON took the penalty leathering the ball high into the postage corner of the net.

This completely changed the character of the game as an energised Threave roared back desperate to equalise and pressed forward with that intent. They had to commit players forward and left gaps at the back in the process. The pace ramped up dramatically and play swung from end to end, Perhaps Formartine were slightly on top during this phase but it was Threave that raised the ante to its highest point when they equalised in the 83rd minute. Following a spell of United pressure at the village end, they broke forward in numbers down the right and got the ball to CAIRNIE at the right hand corner of the box from where he hit a screamer of a drive that levelled the game.

Tension rose stratospherically as each side then needed to find an extra goal and then protect it until the final whistle and had but 7 minutes in which to do so. Formartine were the side to do it and Jake STEWART was the man for the job. With barely 4 minutes left he scorched off down the inside left channel in pursuit of an over the top ball from behind, tamed it, continued his rum, suckered Cameron on the way cut, inside and hammered the ball home from about 10 yards out to complete a notable home win and earn a home tie v Clydebank on 28th October.