For all that this game was the penultimate one of the season for both times it was played out in a far more competitive spirit than is usually associated with end of the season encounters. It was good to watch and although the score line points to a substantial and comfortable victory for the visitors the reality was that there was not too much to chose between the sides save for the lethal firepower that Formartine brought to the finishing department. That was something Clach simply couldn't match. The other department where United held the whip hand was in central defence: no matter how hard the home forwards tried they found it nigh on impossible to get the ball past Craig McKeown who, wearing the captain's armband for the day utterly dominated that part of the park. These two factors account for the extent of the winning margin.
The game began at breakneck pace with United attacking straight from the off. The ball was played immediately out to the left where Norris scorched down the flank and delivered a dipping cross that MacLennan was relieved to watch slipping to safety past his left upright. A minute later United having won the ball back in midfield brought in Gethins who ran directly at the defensive duo of MacLean and MacAskill. As they moved to close him down, he flipped the ball beyond their reach out to the left into the path of GREIG whose searing pace let him reach the ball and still flat out take to near the left corner of the box from where he struck an absolutely unsaveable whizz bank of a shot that left the almost bemused keeper rooted to the spot as the ball flew past his left hand into the net. A goal up before the game was three minutes old, United had plenty momentum with them and followed it up with more sharp breaks. In the 8th minute Roger burst through the middle to get within shooting range near the the D outside the box before being brought down by Webb as he was about to pull the trigger. Gethin's free kick was good enough to beat the wall but was held by the keeper.
Left back Smith was injured in the 14th minute and replaced by Stuart Anderson who added a highly competent left back shift to his remarkably versatile repertoire of roles he has fulfilled for the club.
Lawrence got in an angled lobbed shot from the right that had the keeper back pedalling before it drifted just past the back stick. Clach, however, were showing signs of having weathered the storm of United's initial blitzkreig and were playing some decent pass and move stuff particularly in midfield. They did with a bit of pace and assurance and looked by and large a decently drilled side that were capable of taking some the heat out of the slick visitors and gaining some measure of control. They managed a couple of forays forward and in the ten minutes or so before the interval carved out a couple of half decent chances – one from each side of the park. The first of these came from the right when Finnis forced his way down the flank shrugging of a tackle or two on his way to swinging the ball thirty or forty yards to Beeston who got a fierce header on it that forced a first rate save from MacDonald as he pawed the ball away from just under the bar to relative safety. The next was the result of cleverly timed angled pass from deep by MacAskill to Logan who suckered Burnett and burst into the box. He got to about 10 yards out but still some way left of the goal before with only MacDonald to beat he delivered an accurate but rather timid shot that the keeper gratefully clutched at the base of his right upright.
Clach started the second half playing as if they had a bit of belief about them putting together decent passing moves and for the first ten minutes or thereby played positively enough to suggest that they might at a pinch nick something from the game. It wasn't to last however as United eased into cruise control. They began to get the upper hand in midfield and with a number of players in the mood for goals forced their hosts onto the defensive for longer than they would have wished. The second goal was going to be a turning point and it was no surprise that it came from GETHINS when he collected a pass from Mackintosh twenty yards to his right, controlled the ball instantly and from 12 yards out banged the ball beyond the reach of Mackintosh's left hand.
The pressure was being ramped up and there was an increasing amount of action in the final third at the Clach end. Two goals in three minutes finished the job. The first of these, in the 72nd minute was a well worked effort from the right when Mackintosh threaded the ball through to McGowan who took off through the inside right channel at pace. Inside him was NORRIS who breaking clear of Web and MacRae got a wee glimpse of goal from the just inside the box and cracked the ball home.
In the 75th mibute, LEYDEN scored his first ever goal for United with one well fit to celebrate the occasion. It was essentially a solo goal, and one of rare quality to boot. Running with the ball through the inside left channel he rode a tackle from McDade and then split the two covering defenders with shimmy and a step over before cracking the ball with laser like pace and precision into the net from 12 yards out.
Clach still had a decent spirit about them and continued to work hard enough to make sure that Formartine weren't going to rest on their laurels and run down the clock. They went down fighting but United simply had the class where it mattered and used it when it mattered.
Clachnacuddin: MacLennan, McDade, Finnis, MacRae, Web (Mackintosh 80), MacAskill, Lawrie, Beeston (Dunn 77), Wilson, Chalmers, Logan. Subs: Dunn, Edwards, Anderson, Mackintosh, Bruce, Fraser, Hardie.
Formartine United: MacDonald, Burnett (Leyden 64), Smith (S.Anderson 14), Lawrence, McKeown, Mackintosh, MacPhee (McGowan 44), Rodger, Gethins, Norris, Greig