Formartine United 4 Brechin City 3

December 9, 2023

Breedon Scottish Highland Football League.

Saturday 9 December 2023

Formartine United 4 Brechin City 3

Match Report by Colin Keenan

In order to keep themselves right in the mix of contenders for the League title, Formartine needed to win this game - a real “6 pointer” against the reigning champions. The conditions were less than ideal after days of rain had created a soft, surface and a succession of squally showers of sleety rain blew the length of the pitch from the village end to the Meldrum side. The ref deemed the pitch playable after a pre match inspection that was vindicated by the quality of the game that ensued. Despite the effects of the wind and rain that rattled showers through in quick succession it was interesting to note that 5 of the 7 goals were scored in the teeth of it rather than assisted by it.

This must rate as one of United’s best performances in recent memory where overcoming the loss of a spectacular opening goal only ten minutes in, they battled back to rock the visitors to the core and established a 3-1 lead by the break gaining a dominant grip on proceedings that made the final score line look thinner than the overall difference between the sides in terms of chances created and overall pressure indicated.

The wet and blustery conditions suggested that slips and errors could be more frequent than normal and both sides committed themselves to an attacking approach. The tempo from both sides was high from the outset and there was already an end to end flavour before Brechin opened the scoring with a finish of real quality from LOUDON who was slipped the ball by McGrath on his right and struck a vicious curling drive from 25 yards out that flew into the left corner of the net. It was easy to see why Brechin were champions but United refused to be overawed and continued with their high paced, high press approach. They had outstanding pace in so many places, through Lisle, Lobban, Emslie, Norris and Wade, that something in the Brechin rearguard had to give and in the 32nd minute Emslie scorched down the right after a head flick on from Wade, while Lawrence, Wade and Lisle stretched the visiting defence to the centre and left. LAWRENCE collected the cross and hammered the the ball goalward. It looked net bound but was deflected further beyond the keeper’s reach by Martin and the game was level.

Three minutes later United got the lead they never thereafter surrendered. Lawrence fed Wade from behind and the top scorer flicked the ball onto Rodger in space on his right and the captain drove the ball hard and low from 12 yards out. The shot was blocked but not saved by the keeper and a feeding frenzy ensued during which Lisle attempted to force the ball home before it spun back into the melee and, fatally for Brechin, within the reach of WADE who nicked the ball into the net from a yard or so out.

Two minutes before the interval United extended their advantage. Again Wade had a hand in it, he was beginning to give Martin a bit of a roasting as he comfortably beat him to reach a cross from Lobban and headed it ever so precisely into the path of RODGER on the left who continued his run before driving the ball low into the near corner of the net for 3-1.

Brechin began the second half with a bit of a push that paid a quick dividend . Possibly embarrassed by their interval deficit they initially invested heavily in attack and in the 48th minute reduced United’s cushion to a single goal . Ferguson had initiated an attack down the right and from an exchange of passes with Scott the ball was swung over to the left side of the box where LOUDON was given far too much time and space to rise unchallenged and head the ball home from a bit shy of ten yards out and suddenly the United lead looked rather fragile.

United however quickly showed their true colours and resumed their onslaught on the visiting midfield and defence. Having got themselves into some sort of contention Brechin held out reasonably well for about 15 minutes and gave their supporters a bit of a lift when McGrath stretched Macdonald with a whiplash drive off a corner by Macleod. Formartine were still however looking the more dangerous and restored their two goal cushion after a bit of opportunism from Emslie catching Thomson in possession at the right corner of the box and whipping the ball across to Wade who skelped it goal ward only to be thwarted by keeper Wilson who blocked but failed to hold the ball which spun free to EMSLIE who curved it cooly home for 4-2 in the 63rd minute.

Brechin battled on well enough to get a third goal when sub HASTIE got the last say in a goalmouth scramble by forcing the ball over the line in the 80th. That began a desperate scramble by Brechin to salvage at least a point from the game. They pressed as hard as they could but United held firm and even went close when United’s Campbell got through one on one with the keeper on the verge of stoppage time only for Wilson to get enough on the ball to deflect it to relative safety. United held out thereafter for a notable victory.