The last league game before a cup final can produce pressures all of its own: fear of injury or suspension can play havoc with concentration levels and with even the best will in the world the significance of the game for the team awaiting the final is often secondary to the final itself. Formartine avoided all of those traps to produce a disciplined committed attacking performance where it needed a degree of patience to break down a team organised on damage limitation lines before they pushed on to comfortably dominate proceedings.
United seldom find it easy at Grant Park and although they showed themselves to have the upper hand in virtually every aspect of this game, still had to work hard to overcome a side who set itself up in 5-4-1 (or more cynically, 9-0-1) format. Unsurprisingly Formartine started on the front foot and were pressing the homeside almost from the opening whistle. Although they were moving the ball about quite slickly and off the ball players were making smart and challenging runs, the final third was so densely packed that there was little space in which to move the ball about. Wood was leading the line well and with Norris playing just off him on one side with Park on the other the there was almost constant pressure. In the 8th minute Norris unloaded a fizzing twenty yarder that just scraped over the bar and a couple of minutes later, his shot on the turn from the centre front edge of the box met a similar fate. Rodger combined with Park and managed to get in a low snapshot from a tightish angle on the right, but Dear got a hand to it at the base of the far post.
United were smart enough not to get too many caught up at the same time in the home box and produced a rapid succession of attacks more than a prolonged seige. The one exception was when a Lossie breakout with a long ball from the back found Stuart who made a run to the box to whip in a decent shot that had Main down smartly to push away from the base of his right stick. Immediately Mackintosh made off with the ball to feed Lisle who completed his run with a fierce shot that rebounded off Bellingham's knees.
United's breakthrough came in the 36th minute when a perfectly judged ball across the box from Wood met RODGER's run and the midfielder rifled the ball from 15 yards past Dear. 5 minutes later Rodger turned provider by floating the ball right to left across the box for CLARK to rise majestically at the left corner of the 6 yard box and head it well past Dear.
The second half was a near repetition of the first with dogged resistance by Lossie being overcome by the class and organisation of United. A Wood header smacked off the underside of the bar and they continued their successive waves of attack until in the 73rd minute, Gethins in pale pink boots leapt like a salmon on the Spey to crash home header from Park's cross. Perhaps they were salmon pink boots. Fellow sub McGowan scored his second in two games with a blazing 86th minute low drive from the left into the opposite corner. Four nil was a reasonable return for United's efforts and their patience in breaking down an uber-defensive side and lack of visible frustration in the process shows a welcome degree of maturity to their play.
Lossiemouth: Dear, Kelman, Archibald, Gordon, Bellingham, Weir, Leslie, Allen (Edgar 82), Sewell, Campbell (Elliot 70) Stuart (Forbes 80). Subs: Edgar, Clark, McAndrew, Elliot, Forbes, Flett, Black.
Formartine United: Main, Mackintosh, Lawrence, Anderson (Gethins 65), Kelly, Clark, Rodger (Strachan 75), Lisle, Wood (McGowan 80), Park, Norris. Subs: Smith, Leyden, Strachan, Greig, McGowan, Gethins, Watson