Match Report - By Steven Mew
Following an under-par first half, City showed a ruthless display of finishing in the second period to record a thumping win over Deveronvale at Glebe Park yesterday afternoon.
The result saw City move three points clear at the Highland League summit with a game in hand over nearest challengers Buckie Thistle, who will host City in a crunch fixture next weekend.
Andy Kirk’s side were slow out the blocks and it was the visitors who got their noses in front after just 6 minutes. HORACE ORMSBY took advantage of some slack defending from Nathan Cooney to steal the ball from the City defender before slotting the ball into the net despite the best efforts of Wilson to stop it from crossing the line.
The healthy crowd of 553 were looking for a quick response from City and they were back level in fortuitous fashion on 18 minutes. An in-swinging free kick from KIERAN INGLIS somehow evaded everyone in the box and bounced straight into the far corner.
Shortly after the goal, Cooney headed straight at the keeper from a corner whilst Inglis curled a free kick over from 20 yards just a few minutes later.
City were unable to get into any kind of rhythm and struggled to assert their authority on the game. Shortly before the break, the visitors could have easily gone back in front as the City defence failed to clear their lines from a free kick before a shot was slammed over from the edge of the box.
As half time approached, City were awarded a penalty when MacLeod was brought down by a clumsy challenge from Innes McKay in the box. Referee Greg Soutar had little hesitation in pointing to the spot and GRADY MCGRATH converted the penalty with aplomb, slamming confidently into the bottom corner.
Despite going in at the break a goal to the good, Manager Andy Kirk would have been looking for a considerable improvement from his players and that is precisely what he got as City simply blew Vale away in the second half.
Loudon headed narrowly wide from Spark’s cross after 50 minutes and at the other end, Lenny Wilson had his first real save as he comfortably gathered an effort from Michael Watson.
Loudon came close again with a defected 20 yard free kick which McIntosh did superbly well to turn round the post for a corner.
Just before the hour mark, City gave themselves some breathing space as they doubled the advantage. GRADY MCGRATH collected the ball on the edge of the box and provided a sublime finish into the bottom corner.
McGrath could have easily had his hat-trick just a few minutes later. The hugely influential MacLeod cut the ball back for McGrath in the box and his first time strike looked destined for the net however McIntosh showed great reflexes to tip the ball over. Loudon then headed the resulting corner from Bain over the bar.
GRADY MCGRATH looked hungry and there was an air of inevitability that he would get his hat-trick and it arrived on 70 minutes. He collected a pass and made his way into the box before curling a shot beyond McIntosh and into the far corner for his 22nd goal of the season.
A few minutes later City’s top scorer nearly grabbed his 4th of the afternoon when he cut inside from the left but was denied by the feet of the keeper. The ball then fell for Inglis who crossed into the box for Spark who saw his header cleared off the line.
With a quarter of an hour remaining, City made it five with the pick of the bunch. EWAN LOUDON engineered some space 20 yards out and let fly with a terrific strike which arrowed into the corner, giving McIntosh absolutely no chance.
With a minute remaining, substitute AARON ARNOTT grabbed his first goal for City. The on-loan Raith Rovers midfielder collected a pass from fellow substitute Botti Biabi and supplied a composed finish from the edge of the box to further add to the advantage.
You’d have thought City were finished there, but they made it 7 in stoppage time as EWAN LOUDON headed home from a right sided cross to add further gloss to an already impressive scoreline.
Despite a slow first half, Manager Andy Kirk will have been delighted with the result which also gave City’s goal difference a welcome boost ahead of the crunch match against 2nd placed Buckie Thistle next weekend.
Other Results - Breedon Highland League
Forres Mechanics 1 Inverurie Locos 1
Nairn County 1 Formartine United 1