This was the second game in United's pre-season programme before the SHFL season begins in earnest with an away game to Keith on the 27th July. Lochee, despite plying their trade in the Juniors are a fair tack on: they are reigning champions of the East Super League and reputed to have the meanest defence you are ever likely to encounter at that level of the game. As with any friendly a fairly fine balance needs to be struck between preparing players for the competitive rigours of the season ahead and avoiding injuries. How fine the line can be was illustrated by the absence of United's major new signing Michael Clark. He suffered at least a bad knock in the previous pre season outing at Montrose and the fear in the Formartine faithfull is that the centre back jinx had struck again. Centre half Scott Henry has played only a sprinkling of first team games in the three seasons that he has been with the club and has very recently had to submit again to surgery that is likely to see him sidelined for the rest of this year. Jevan Anderson escaped injury but not the transfer system and is now beginning a full time career at Burton Albion while Craig McKeown, currently injury free has missed lengthy periods with cruciate ligament problems.
Players do need the match practice these games provide but the risks are high and the dynamics surrounding such games do not always make for the most entertaining spectacles that football can provide. In the circumstances this one wasn't the worst although it started as a bit of a slow burner and finished rather chaotically once the full panoply of almost a dozen substitutes had been deployed.
Lochee started the more lively of the two and after ten minutes or so had their visitors fairly well confined to their own territory. United had a rather unusual back 4 with MacPherson and Lawrence as the two full backs with Stuart Smith and Craig McKeown as centre backs.
By fifteen minutes in, Main proved to be the busier of the keepers and had made a couple of fairly significant saves: one low to his left to turn a low drive round the post and another to pull a dipping lob from just under the junction of the crossbar and his right stick. Formartine's means of getting the ball forward and moving from back to front foot relied mostly on the work of Kieran Lawrence pushing on from right back and the aggressive ball carrying through midfield by Graeme Rodger. With half an hour played, United were definitely giving as good as they got and were beginning to unpick the defensive lock their well drilled hosts deployed. A sweeping move initially from the right by Mackintosh and MacPherson yieded a cross that was eventually worked over to Greig on the left whose cross into the box was met by Gethins who got an inch or two away from his marker and just enough to hammer the ball from about 15 yards range, off the left upright of the otherwise beaten keeper. That brightened things up a bit and United forced a corner or two in the time remaining before the interval.
The second half began with a livelier looking United playing with more fluency than they had earlier began to squeeze their hosts into their own final third. MacPhee was pushing on up front and Greig was asking questions out wide and getting some balls into the box. The more he did so the more desperate were the measures used in trying to prevent him. After a couple of incursions had been blocked rather crudely by Webster and Blair, the winger was brought down from behind by the first named. It was close to the left front corner of the box and prime territory for a MACPHEE free kick. Archie struck the ball with consummate precision over the wall and beyond the reach of the keeper.
It was bang on the hour mark and should really have laid the foundation for a United victory. That it didn't was really down to the trade off between ensuring game time for the whole host of subs who had made the journey to sunny Dundee and maintaining momentum. The latter slipped a bit with all the ensuing changes and although a degree of pressure was largely sustained, Lochee, were sharp enough to seize on little bits of midfield hesitation or confusion. In the 81st minute Cavanagh drew a top end save from MacDonald as the keeper just managed to finger tip the ball onto his own cross bar and thence to safety. This energised the home side enough for them to ramp up the pressure for a barnstorming finish. However the momentum was with Lochee and a break down the inside left channel by sub MacDonald was completed when he drove the ball lowish and diagonally to RICE who drove it home via the shins of Whyte. That 88th minute strike ensured the draw which overall was a fair reflection of the course of events.
Lochee United: Fotheringham, Webster, Kirk, Blair, MacNally, Ritchie, Davie, Gallacher, McKomskie, Cavanagh, Milne. Subs: Buchan, Birse, McDonald, Rice, MacDonald.
Formartine United: Main, MacPherson, Lawrence, Smith, McKeown, Mackintosh, MacPhee, Rodger, Gethins, S. Anderson, Greig. Subs: MacDonald, Wood, Whyte, C.Anderson. McGowan, Addison