Formartine start year strongly with win over Brechin
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Formartine United's first game of 2022 saw them beat Brechin City 1-0 at North Lodge Park.
A Graeme Rodger goal on about the half hour mark was enough to secure the victory for the hosts and cap off a miserable New Year week for the visitors, which also saw them lose 5-3 to Fraserburgh at home.
United boss Paul Lawson was delighted with the league victory and is looking to carry on that momentum when they visit Buckie Thistle on Saturday, Covid and weather permitting.
Brechin had an early chance when Michael Paton received the ball and he fired a shot at goal which went wide.
He was looking lively and then tried a long range effort but it did not find the target.
It was a back and forth battle for possession of the ball with each team looking to stamp their authority on the game.
Scott Lisle, who proved to be a thorn in the side of City all afternoon, was played into the box, however, he was unable to trouble Jack Wills in the Brechin goal.
A crossed ball from the visitors found striker Garry Wood who tried a first time effort which did not have enough power or guidance on it.
Lisle then had another good chance in the Brechin box with the defence there to deal with the danger.
The visitors called for a penalty after what they thought was a handball in the area but referee Mike Roncone waved away their claims.
Formartine scored when a ball was played to team captain Rodger who, under pressure from the City defence, managed to guide it into the net for what would be the decisive goal.
The hosts were pushing for a second with a cross finding Jonathan Smith whose header went over the crossbar.
Lisle then played a great back heel to Smith with Wills on hand to deny his effort and the opportunity to increase Formartine's lead.
Brechin had a couple of good chances just before the break but an equaliser was proving to be elusive for them.
In the second half a Jamie Bain free-kick for City was sent towards Hamish Thomson whose effort did not threaten and the ball went out of play.
The visitors were having a good spell of play, however, they were unable to find that final bit of quality to get a goal.
A Formartine free-kick taken by Smith was initially blocked and he managed to get the follow-up swung in to Rodger who could not manage to get anything on it.
Smith then had a ball played through to him and was in a great position to score but his effort went wide and out for a corner.
Lisle's laid off pass found Kevin Hanratty who hesitated with his shot and was thwarted by the Brechin defence.
At the other end Jack Milne saw his chance saved by Formartine goalkeeper Ewen Macdonald.
Wood had a gift of an opportunity to equalise but his effort was wide and summed up his team's afternoon.
The visitors were applying the pressure on their hosts in the search for a late goal with a long ball fired in the direction of Wood which Macdonald gathered.
Lisle was still proving to be a threat in the closing stages of the match when he had a run at goal. He delayed pulling the trigger though and was blocked, with the full-time whistle coming shortly after.
Formartine manager Paul Lawson said: "I am delighted with the win. Beating a team with the quality Brechin has you have to be happy with that.
"We had to defend well and credit to the boys as they worked really hard.
"We scored a really good goal and we expected there would be times in the game where we would be under a lot of pressure.
"However, we dealt with that and overall I am really happy with the result.
"If you are wanting to get results against these teams you are going to have to defend well and work hard.
"It was similar to the performance against Brora but we lost two late goals in that game which was disappointing.
"We have to make sure the players keep their concentration for the full 90 minutes.
"The aim for us is to finish as high as we can in the league. We are not happy with where we are and we need to be climbing the table.
"Winning games such as this helps us to reach the target of the top four and we want to get on a run and finish the season strong.
"We travel to Buckie next and it is a difficult one again, however, we have to take confidence from this performance.
"We'll take stock of injuries and the Covid situation with some players and get ready for Saturday.
"We are potentially looking at bringing in a couple of players as the boys we have from Aberdeen are being recalled, so we will also have to look at that depending on what becomes available."