Keith 2 Formartine United 3

September 2, 2023

Match Report by Colin Keenan

When this game kicked off, the Highland League season was four or five games in for its eighteen clubs, yet even that early in the competition every one of them had dropped points to rivals. It’s simply that competitive. The notion of any team being able to demonstrate effortless superiority over any other simply doesn’t apply - you have to work your socks off for everything you get. After a very closely contested game when all five goals were scored in the second half, United’s single goal victory propelled them to second place in the table and Keith to twelfth. On the way there Formartine had to come twice from behind and overcome having a well taken penalty kick saved by home keeper Reid.

United’s selection was constrained by injuries and suspensions to key players.  However none of the starting eleven were played in unfamiliar positions and the strengthening of the squad over the last year was apparent in the overall quality of the starting eleven.  Keith won the corresponding fixture last season by the only goal of the game and United were well aware of the task facing them.  They use Julian Wade as a spearhead and try to get the ball to him quickly and directly to profit from his capacity to hold it up and bring others into attack in the final third. A sound enough tried and tested tactic but Keith were well wise to it and had a back 4 of Addison, Yeats, Coull and Robertson who worked well together as a defensive unit able to limit the both the supply to him and his space for manoeuvre when he got the ball. United had other strings to their bow though and Emslie made several telling forays down the left and Rodger got through his usual highly industrious workload in midfield. However most of the action in either direction was contained in the box to box area. In the 26th minute United wing back Wilson was withdrawn with what looked like a lower back injury and was replaced by Park who adopted a forward midfield position with Norris withdrawing to defensive duties. Half way through the second half Park himself was helped off after suffering what looked like a serious injury.  The pattern of play however persisted until the interval where after the tempo ramped up a bit further and what had hitherto been a midfield slug out took on a more end to end character.

Then the goals started to come.  Following a Keith corner on the right, a partially cleared ball was banged back into an area forward of the keeper’s left stick but rebounded off Rodger. Ref Mazzoni decided that enough of it had hit his hand which was by his side as he turned, to award a penalty. ELPHINSTONE drove the ball centrally as Macdonald dived left and Keith led in the 51st minute.

United were having none of it and went straight onto the offensive. With successive waves of attack they started to pummel Keith to the extent that they had the ball in the net a couple of minutes later through Wade but were denied a goal for offside. The pressure was persistent and sustained and in the 57th minute United levelled through RODGER. A thumping throw right into the goalmouth from Mclean on the left almost flummoxed the home defence before the ball was hacked away by Robertson. Seconds later Maclean launched another from near the same place but the United captain was onto it and slammed the ball past Reid from 12 yards range.

Formartine pressure was sustained, but pressure by one side can beget breakaway counter attacks by the other and 5 minutes later a Keith break down the right that yielded a corner that was cleared but followed up almost directly with a low cross from the same side that COOPER turned smartly into the United net to restore the home lead.  United were still dominating possession and territory and were building up a head of steam that would propel them to victory. Reid was busy saving efforts from Lisle, Norris and Wade before sub Stewart swung over a right to left cross that RODGER crashed home with a thumping header for his 100th goal for Formartine.

United were in the driving seat by now, their tails were up and their supporters scented victory. United continued to press and secured victory in the 87th minute when a lob towards the far post by Rodger caused a momentary hesitation in the home back line before WADE was onto it in a flash and nicked the ball into the net from close range to seal a well merited victory to a hard fought game. They were awarded a penalty after a 6 yard box melee but Keeper Reid made a superb save at the base of his left stick to deny Combe whose spot kick was hard, low and accurate.  


1. Craig Reid

2. Murray Addison

3. Kieran Yeats (12. Liam Cheyne 80 min)

4. Lewis Coull

5. Ryan Robertson

6. Craig Gill

7. Gavin Elphinstone (15. Connor Killoh 84 min)

8. James Brownie

9. Jordan Cooper

10. Michael Taylor

11. Michael Ironside (14. Nathan McKeown 75 min)

Formartine United

1. Ewen MacDonald

2. Lewis Wilson (16. Daniel Park 27 min) (17. Jake Stewart 56 min)

3. Ryan Spink

4. Kieran Adams (15. Stuart Smith 46 min)

5. Matthew McLean

6. Marc Lawrence

7. Julian Wade

8. Graeme Rodger ©

9. Paul Campbell (12. Scott Lisle 60 min)

10. Aaron Norris

11. Adam Emslie (14. Aiden Combe 60 min)

 Unused Subs:

21. Archie Mackay (GK).