The general pre-match expectation that Premiership Motherwell would comfortably see off Highland League Formartine in this 3rd round Scottish Cup tie was met with a highly professional performance characterised by patience, clinical finishing and a degree of cynicism in some of their tackling (particularly by Jordan Roberts). United played as well as they were allowed to and held their own for periods, mostly in the first half but full timers Motherwell, on the back of months of regular competitive action were always the sharper and significantly the less error prone.
‘Well showed their intent straight from the kick off by immediately applying the pressure of a forward move comprising twenty or more slick passes on their way to the United box where a an O’Donnell drive rebounded via Kelly to comparative safety. Having resisted this attempt to catch them cold United chased and harried enough to show some presence in ‘Well territory. McKeown struck a pass out right to Crawford who survived the crudest of tackles by Roberts before curling a pass beyond the back post from where Rodger drew a good diving save from keeper Kelly. Motherwell were dominating both possession and territory and most of the action was in the area around the home box. Despite this United were soaking up the pressure well enough until with half an hour played, a dreadful looking two footed lunge by Roberts on Cole Anderson left the young midfielder unable to continue and replaced by Norris. Three minutes later a long over top ball from Campbell landed centrally a yard shy of the United box. Keeper Main and centre back McKeown miscommunicated fatally leaving the two on the edge of the box and the ball behind them for LONG to simply sweep it into an unguarded net. United battled on but went two down in the 40th minute when a sweeping ‘Well attack down the left, left McGinley with as much time and space as the Hadron Collider replicates to launch a ball into the 6 yard area where, in the midst of a scramble, ROBERTS nicked the ball home.
Like true professionals Motherwell knew how to step up the pressure when they had the advantage, and began the second session with a big sustained press. This took 8 minutes to yield the crucial third goal that came after a bombardment of the home penalty area. Showing good movement in a crowded box ROBERTS nicked in to get on the end of a low Cole cross and pinged it into the net from about 10 yards.
Formartine struggled manfully on but Motherwell were sharper more or less across the board and in one or two cases, e.g Park and Jonny Smith lacked not just the sharpness but the apparent will to cope with the slicker Steelmen who now had the game fully under control.
The substitution of these miscreants with Greig and Lawrence (in the 60th and 80th minute respectively) helped prevent embarrassment but so far in control were ‘Well that another two goals came as little surprise. There was a bit of class to the fourth goal as slick inter passing around the box saw Campbell collect the ball from Long, play a one-two with Hastie before jinking through the United rearguard then wrong-footing Kelly to drive the ball past Main from about 8 yards in the 71st minute. United’s misery was completed in the 81st minute with a fairly simple back post header by COLE from a Foley cross from the right. This partially offset the forward’s embarrassment two minutes earlier by missing an open goal so wildly that he all but dislodged a young loon spectating from a tree in Pitmedden Garden.
This game completes United’s truncated Highland League season. With two seasons effectively put on ice and a number of key players no longer in the first flush of youth, it will be interesting to watch the transfer market between now and July / August when it is hoped that the next season, will get under way.
Formartine United: Main, Crawford, S.Smith, S.Anderson, McKeown, Kelly, Rodger, C.Anderson (Norris 29), Wood, J.Smith (Greig 58), Park (Lawrence 80). Subs: Lisle, Fraser, Lawrence, Greig, Gethins, Norris, MacDonald.
Motherwell: Kelly, McGinley, Campbell (Lammie 80), Crawford, (Foley 70) Long, Lawless, Gallagher, O’Donnell, Roberts, Magloire, Cole. Subs: Carroll. Lammie, Hastie, Maguire, Mugabi, Polworth, Cornelius, Chapman, Foley