Formartine falter in season opener with Fraserburgh as the sides get set to meet again this week
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Fraserburgh 3 - Formartine United 0
This was the opening League game of the new season for both sides and although such games often fuel a lot of pre match gossip, rumour and speculation, the reality is that the hype usually obscures what truths can be extracted from the event itself.
The first and most obvious fact was that this is and will continue to be a rebuilding season for United who started with five or six players who had not featured regularly in the starting 11 in previous seasons and about half of these were newcomers- young-uns in the main.
The Broch looked much more like the side that has been pressing hard for honours over the last three or four seasons and though manager Cowie had done a little tinkering and refreshment, the team was on fairly familiar lines and played largely to expectation.
They were canny enough to note the relatively untested nature of the United team and hit them hard and early.
No rocket science in that - it was the obvious thing to do and they did it ruthlessly enough to have established a two goal cushion in the first twenty minutes.
They started on the front foot with a quick press down the left flank with some quickfire pass and move stuff between Barbour and West that saw Barbour jink in from near the corner flag, across the box before being crowded out by a group of defenders spearheaded by Crawford.
United’s response was one or two attempts at counter attack but these relied on longish forward balls struck forward with varying degrees of accuracy and Leask was little threatened in the home goal although a strong, direct run through the middle by Mykyta took him past a couple of challenges before he managed to get the ball over to Jonny Smith whose swirling, dipping shot on the turn from 20 yards wasn’t far over the top.
The Broch were however on top and former United forward Barbour was proving a right thorn in their flesh.
Supported in his attacking role by Cowie, Duncan and West he had the United rearguard creaking with slick movement and close accurate passing.
In the 16th minute after Duncan had got the better of Spink about 15 yards out right of centre he clipped the ball over to meet the darting run of Barbour towards the far post.
From about 10 yards out “Fig” neatly drilled the ball low inside Macdonalds’ right upright.
The elegant ease with which this was executed sent a shiver down the spines of the United faithfull who feared more to come and it did: five minutes later, Duncan and Campbell caused some mayhem out on the right before the former was halted illegally by a rearward tackle from Spink.
In the aftermath of Cowie’s free that flew diagonally across the goal mouth Simpson got ahead of defenders to deliver a fierce header to the roof of the net for the second.
In one sense that was enough to take the points off United - even with 70 minutes or so remaining the manner in which the lead had been established suggested that United could be facing a bit of a hiding and had given little indication of the ability to turn things round.
The rest of the first half didn’t quite confirm that and without really getting on top of their hosts United certainly did not cave in, kept shape, morale and tempo going and held on without further damage until the interval.
The second half began unsurprisingly with a big push from the Brochers but United dug in and defending in depth with often eight behind the ball in the final third, kept them at bay.
Lisle replaced Spink at the interval and gradually more joined up football through the centre came from United. Fraserburgh still used width more productively but you could see some character coming from United. Broch often over elaborate in the box and United backing each other up determinedly tended to cancel each other out.
They were still a bit on the back foot but had enough fight about them to rock the Broch a couple of times.
The direct running of Rodger and and Lisle yielded a couple of shots from Hanratty and Lawrence that made Leask work for his keep with a capable clutch of a low from the former and a touch over from the latter.
It was a minute or more into stoppage time that the final goal came.
A goalless second half was a realistic aim for United and they played well enough to deserve it, but a sequence of one twos between Barbour and Duncan ended with a crafty dipping ball into the back stick from “Fig” where sub Butcher headed home from a few feet out.
These two meet in the Aberdeenshire Cup final in four days time.
If United start that like they finished this, they will be in with a chance.