Main refuses to Buck the trend in shootout win
THIS was a dour, leaden struggle between two sides struggling to regain the form that had previously propelled them to rather more sparkling performances than the current and recent form of either has yielded.
It was the quarter-final of the Aberdeenshire Shield (held by United) played at the third time of asking following postponements for a waterlogged surface.
In the circumstances a still, relatively dry evening and not too heavy pitch produced conditions for a higher standard of play than either side attained.
Buckie were the more adventurous over the first 45 but United, thanks to another goalkeeping masterclass by Kevin Main and some doughty defending by a back four of Johnny Crawford, Stuart Smith, Craig McKeown and Darryn Kelly held on in the face of at times quite sustained Buckie pressure until beginning to gain a slight edge in territory and possession in the later stages of the game.
Andy MacAskill was pulling most of the strings for Buckie and emerged as the dominant midfield force for most of the first half.
10 minutes in he slung a left-to-right cross over to Kevin Fraser who teed the ball up for Sam Urquhart who screwed the ball wide right from about 10 yards out.
Another 10 minutes of intermittent Buckie pressure later he drove a 30-yard free-kick into the heart of the Formartine defence.
It rebounded or was scrambled out of immediate danger but only to Fraser whose drive forced Main to block the ball before gathering it at the base of his right upright.
The nearest to a goal in that half came in the 31st when MacAskill broke through the inside left channel to off-load a vicious low 20-yarder that spun off the inside of Main's right post before being scrambled away for an unrewarded corner.
Formartine, relying on counter attack, made relatively few incursions into Buckie territory and generally eschewing midfield build up, depended on long-ish balls up to Garry Wood.
One such led to a corner on the right which Stuart Anderson delivered to the big striker but former Formartine stalwart Hamish Munro hoofed the ball off the line and Buckie pressure resumed at the other end.
The second period saw a livelier United and after a brief spell of pressure in and around the Buckie box, a probably goalbounddrive by Aaron Norris rebounded off Shaun Wood.Referee Liam Duncan, never one to eschew the dramatic, decreed a handball and awarded the penalty.
After an inordinate delay Wood stepped up and struck the ball to Daniel Bell's left, possibly not far enough and the keeper blocked it and grabbed the rebound to boot.
No goal but it was enough to encourage both sides to press for one and the game developed a more end to end pattern.
United carved open the home defence 10 minuteslater when Wood got one-on-one with Bell but snatching at his shot hit it high, wide and anything but handsome.
Right at the death, sub Conor Gethins with only Bell to beat from the left coner of the six-yard box, hooked the ball over the top.
The game went straight to penalties (no extra time in Shield matches nowadays).
This was slightly delayed by the disappearance of home keeperBell into the tunnel before emerging (presumably after a tinkle) to face the shootout.
After Crawford confidently lashed home United's first, master of these situations Main superbly saved Buckie's opening two from Urquhart and Sam Robertson.
Graeme Rodger, Anderson and Gethins all buried theirs and although Scott Lisle's effort rebounded off Bell's boot it was United who progress to face Fraserburgh in the Semi next Wednesday.