Formartine United 5 Nairn County 1

February 21, 2024

Breedon Scottish Highland Football League.  Wednesday 21st February 2024, North Lodge.

Formartine United 5

Scorers: Paul Campbell (21), Aaron Reid (25), Julian Wade (42, 48), Lewis Wilson (73).

Nairn County 1

Scorers: Ben Barron (39).

Match Report by Colin Keenan

This season the league table reveals a distinct difference between a group of clubs who remain in contention for the title and a chasing group who whatever they do between now and the remainder of the season, are too far adrift of the group above them to have any chance of becoming Champions. This game revealed quite starkly the difference between those in contention and the group below them. The score line was a decent reflection of the gap in standards between the two.

Nairn will have been frustrated by playing around 45 of the 90 minutes a player short following the dismissal of Young for a second bookable offence after a crass attempt to push the ball into the net with his hand in the deluded belief that his super power was invisibility. That said Formartine were comfortably on top at the time and thereafter showed their experience by maximising possession, spreading play widely to exploit their numerical advantage.

Nairn began with a couple of pacy flurries that United contained comfortably enough before beginning to impose their own pattern of play on the visitors.

Nairn were lively enough and keen to move the ball forward when in possession but didn’t seem quite as strategically aware as their hosts who even early on showed better ball retention and a more patterned approach in attack. After 15 minutes or so United were showing higher levels of possession and territorial advantage and with ball spending much more time at the Meldrum end an opener for United looked increasingly likely to open the scoring. Callum Maclean had the misfortune of attempting to mark Julian Wade who turned the defender left and right before spinning off him to deliver an exquisitely judged dipping cross straight to the head of CAMBBELL whose fierce header ripped into the net well beyond the outstretched right hand of keeper Dylan Maclean in the 21st minute.

Formartine continued to press and already the visitors were on the back foot. Aaron Reid had gone close a couple of times before he got the second via a corner from the left struck slightly in-swinging towards the back stick by Lawrence. REID outjumped surrounding defenders to put the ball well beyond the reach of Maclean.

The match was there for Formartine’s taking and just at the point when a third goal would have left them all but beyond the reach of Nairn, they showed not for the first time this season a flash of defensive frailty in apparent miscommunication between keeper and some of the back four when a relatively innocuous looking ball into the left post area was left virtually unattended before being scuffed past a hesitant looking MacDonald by BARRON.

It was a blip in an otherwise sound performance by United who were quick to make amends.

Wade restored the two goal cushion in the 41st minute. A free kick virtually on the halfway line was knocked from centre to wide right by Maclean and headed neatly on to WADE on the edge of the 18 yard box by Lawrence. “Ju Ju,” as is his wont, had the ball buried in the back of the net in a flash.  Between then and the interval Young was dismissed and the game was as contest all but over.

WADE doubled his tally a couple of minutes after the resumption following a long throw in to the box . United were in complete charge thereafter and by Maclean that he seized on and rifled low and hard past the visiting beeper from about 15 yards outused the forty odd minutes that remained to work their squad to its best advantage bringing on subs including debutants Lewis Duncan and Cameron Middleton. This did not lessen their dominance over the proceedings and realising the need for a healthy goal difference in context of the current logjam at the top of the table an extra goal would not go amiss. This came in the form of a powerful header by Lewis WILSON that he crashed into the net from not far inside the box in the 75th minute.

The slight dithery wobble round the Nairn goal aside, this was an accomplished performance by as good a side as United have been able to assemble in recent years.

Formartine United: 1. Ewen MacDonald, 2. Johnny Crawford ©, 3. Stuart Smith (14. Ryan Spink 20 min), 4. Lewis Wilson, 5. Matthew McLean, 6. Marc Lawrence, 7. Julian Wade (12. Aiden Combe 75 min), 8. Aaron Norris, 9. Paul Campbell (15. Scott Lisle 75 min), 10. Aaron Reid (16. Lewis Duncan 63 min), 11. Adam Emslie (17. Kevin Hanratty 75 min). Unused Subs: 18. Kieran Adams, 19. Brody Alberts,21. Cameron Middleton (GK).

Nairn County: Dylan MacLean (20. Lewis Munro 65 min), Jamie Carnahan, Kenny McKenzie, Callum MacLean, Fraser Dingwall ©, Kenny MacInnes (12. Angus Dey 60 min), Calum Mackay, Alasdair Giles, Ben Barron (15. Aaron Nicolson 60 min), Harry Hennem, Ciaran Young (14. Horace Ormsby 60 min). Unused Subs: 16. Wayne Mackintosh.