Match Report - By Steven Mew
A brace from substitute Grady McGrath early in the second half helped City overturn a half time deficit to record all 3 points against Inverurie Locos yesterday evening.
Following an under-par first half showing, City’s top scorer was introduced at the break and made an immediate impact, netting twice within 8 minutes of the restart.
Following the Highland League Cup exit to Fraserburgh at the weekend, Andy Kirk made two changes for this one. Lewis Martin returned from suspension whilst Marc Scott also came into the side as the expense of Kevin McHattie and Grady McGrath who dropped to the bench.
On a chilly Autumn evening, City started brightly with Fraser MacLeod testing keeper Zack Ellis within the opening couple of minutes and shortly after, MacLeod threaded a pass through for Liam Duell who was denied by the feet of the Locos keeper. The resulting corner was only cleared as far as Ryan Ferguson on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t keep his effort down.
The visitors, who went into this game without a win to their name in the Highland League so far this season belied their lowly status for spells of this match. They grew into the game and on 6 minutes Lenny Wilson had to be alert to keep out a stinging effort from Lloyd Robertson at his near post.
Callum Duncan blazed a shot over the bar whilst Thomas Reid had a shot blocked for the visitors, before Wilson did well to tip away an inswinging cross from Lloyd Robertson.
The Locos were certainly causing some issues for the City backline and they got their reward with the opening goal after 19 minutes. A free kick on the right hand side was swung into the box and MARK SOUTER managed to guide his effort into the corner to give the visitors the lead.
Just before the half hour mark, Ewan Murray dinked a cross into the box which found Ewan Spark however he was unable to get enough contact on his volley.
On the stroke of half time, MacLeod collected a pass from Martin before teeing up Moreland on the edge of the box but he couldn’t keep his strike down.
With City needing at least a couple of goals in the second half, Manager Andy Kirk turned to Grady McGrath at half time as he came on to replace Liam Duell.
Within two minutes of the restart City were given the opportunity to get back on level terms as skipper Euan Spark was wrestled down in the box at a corner. Referee Duncan Nicolson had little hesitation in pointing to the spot and GRADY MCGRATH confidently tucked the ball away for his 50th goal in City colours.
The half time substitution certainly paid dividends as GRADY MCGRATH put City in front just five minutes later. Ewan Murray dinked a cross into the box and McGrath managed to flick a header goalwards which sneaked into the bottom corner.
McGrath was on a mission for a hat-trick of hat-tricks in the space of 3 weeks – just after the hour mark he fired a shot past the post after some good work from Spencer Moreland and a couple of minutes later he was denied by the feet of the goalkeeper.
City were dominant at the stage as they chased a third goal to put clear daylight between the sides. MacLeod fired over the bar after being set up by Moreland whilst Ferguson dinked a shot just wide.
After missing the last month with a rib injury, Ewan Loudon made a welcome return to the pitch as he replaced Seth Patrick midway through the half.
On 70 minutes, the visitors threatened when Wilson had to be alert to push away a fierce strike at his near post from Thomas Reid.
City continued to push forward in the last ten minutes – Zack Ellis showed great reflexes to keep out a snapshot from MacLeod in the box with his feet and he would deny the midfielder again five minutes later.
The Locos piled men forward in the dying minutes in search of an equaliser, however the City rearguard held firm to take all three points.
It may be early in the season, but City head into what is a hugely important league fixture away to Buckie Thistle this coming Saturday. Both sides are currently level on 22 points, albeit City have a game in hand over the Jags.
Other Results - Breedon Highland League
Clachnacuddin 0 Brora Rangers 2
Deveronvale 3 Banks O' Dee 3
Fraserburgh 1 Formartine United 2
Nairn County 3 Keith 2
Rothes 1 Buckie Thistle 3
Wick Academy 3 Forres Mechanics 2