Seldom in their 10 years in the Highland League have Formartine found it easy to come away from Mosset Park victorious and given their indifferent form towards the end of last year, there was trepidation about this crucial cup quarter final. Like United, Forres find themselves some way off the pace in the challenge for this season's title – hence the added importance of progress in the League Cup. Formartine rose to the challenge to produce a performance with enough, skill, pace and passion to relegate their sticky period to increasingly distant memory. If this wasn't them back to their absolute best, it came gie near to it. They bossed this game from start to finish giving notice to one and all that they are again a major force in the game at this level.
Playing into the wind United set a cracking pace with their 4-4-2 generally more mobile and direct than a similar pattern from the Can Cans which relied heavily on the might of both Frasers and Soane in what turned out to be a less mobile back four. A move from the back by right back Crawford brought in Norris wide right whose first time cross flew direct to GREIG lurking unmarked about 20 yards from goal. He struck a controlled shot into the wind with power and precision enough to beat keeper Knight all ends up for a 7th minute opener that nailed United's colours firmly to the mast.
This stiffened home resolve enough to shift most of the focus and locus to the midfield area where United had a distinct edge – being quicker to all tackles and setting the tempo enough to ensure that although Forres worked hard in that area, United were still calling most of the shots even if they weren't getting the ball into the home penalty area as often as they would wish. Given what was a stake for both sides tackles were certainly crisper than cornflakes - and considerably stronger.
In the 23rd minute the astute Crawford pushed on down the right to pick out Gethins who had been tormenting the back four with a threat in each of his many turns, before his shot was blocked Strachan, Norris and Lisle were also ramping up the pressure and United were beginning to move from midfield pressure to squeezing the final third. Mechanics were pushed to keep United at bay.
Four minutes later Crawford again pushed on from deep, this time on the left and again picked out the wily GETHINS in the box. The striker with consumate ease, calmly stroked the ball just beyond the reach of Knight into the net at the base of his right post.
That really rocked the home side who threw all they could at United to get back in the game but despite some goal-mouth skirmishes, all in ten minutes or so after the second goal, United were still in charge. The greatest threats were when long wind assisted deliveries from the back reached the United penalty area. One by Soane found Docherty whose shot was hoofed clear from the line by Kelly and another by MacPherson who set up a wee stramash before Main blocked Fraser's shot.
But even as the interval beckoned, United were causing problems particularly with the mobility of Greig and the craft of Gethins whose 39th minute header off a Lisle cross went narrowly over. Lisle went even closer in the 42nd minute when Knight recovered well to thwart him from one on one when the midfielder broke through on the back a long pass from McKeown.
The second period continued with United in charge. Park replaced the injured Strachan in the 48th minute but the pressure continued. Forres couldn't contain Greig and took turns to foul him before Soane was booked for pulling him back, but the wee wide man continued to wreak havoc and Forres continued to be under pressure albeit with but two goals in it, they were not quite out of it. In the 80th minute, a MacPhee break on the right was completed when Lee FRASER headed home his cross at the back stick.
Manager Lawson was having none of it and came on himself in 81st minute. By the 82nd minute the game was back firmly in United's grasp. His first touch was a superb lift over the home defence to PARK who took the ball to the bye line left Ross stranded, and made himself the angle to blast the ball high into the net. There was no way back from there for Forres.
Forres Mechanics: Knight Ross, MacPherson, G. Fraser, Milne, L. Fraser, Duncan, Docherty (Miller 58), Hughes, Howarth, Soane (Ward 67), Smith, Leyden, Lawson, Mackintosh. Subs:Allen, Miller, Paterson, Gauld, MacPhee, Ward, Ellis.
Formartine United: Main, Crawford, Lawrence, Strachan (Park 48), McKeown, Kelly, Rodger, Lisle (McGowan 67), Gethins, Norris, Greig (Lawson 80). Subs: Smith, Leyden, Lawson, Mackintosh, Park, McGowan, Watson