Match Report - By Steven Mew
City missed the chance to move back to the top of the Highland League as they were edged out by Formartine United at North Lodge Park.
Pitmedden hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for City on league duty having lost there in the previous two seasons, and that sequence would continue in the driving rain yesterday afternoon.
There was one change to the side that were defeated by Fraserburgh a fortnight ago, with Liam Duell coming into the starting 11 at the expense of Ewan Murray.
Having signed on loan from Dundee United in the morning, Craig Moore was included in the squad whilst Manager Gavin Price also named two trialists on the substitutes bench.
City started brightly and took the lead just 10 minutes into the game. EWAN LOUDON collected a pass from Grady McGrath 20 yards out and let fly with a terrific right footed strike which flew behind MacDonald in the Formartine goal.
The advantage should have been doubled just after the quarter hour mark when a cross from Liam Duell found Grady McGrath unmarked just a few yards from goal but he was unable to make the connection.
On 21 minutes Lenny Wilson was beaten to the ball on the edge of the box by Graeme Rodger – his effort was cleared by Hamish Thomson only as far as Adam Emslie who curled well wide.
City had another glorious opportunity to put clear daylight between the sides two minutes later. Ewan Loudon played a clever pass to send Liam Duell through on goal – he held off the challenge from Rhys Thomas to get his shot away but he was denied by MacDonald who held the ball at the second attempt.
Shortly after, a free kick from Marc Scott on the right hand side was swung into the box where Lewis Martin rose highest to glance wide of the goal.
Just after the quarter hour mark, City were left to rue those missed opportunities as Formartine pulled themselves level. A cross from Adam Emslie found MARC LAWRENCE lurking on the edge of the box and his low strike took a slight deflection off Lewis Martin on its way into the net.
Just four minutes later, the game was turned on its head as the hosts got themselves in front. Graeme Rodger was denied by Wilson before Scott Lisle was denied by Patrick on the line but the ball fell favourably for former City man JULIAN WADE to bundle home from a couple of yards out.
There was an almost instant reply from City as Marc Scott’s delivery from the right almost found Grady McGrath for a tap in but again City’s top scorer was unable to get that crucial touch.
A couple of minutes before the break, the hosts capped off a disastrous 12-minute spell for City as they doubled their advantage. A lofted ball forward was flicked by Julian Wade into the path of GRAEME RODGER who slotted beyond Wilson from 8 yards.
With plenty of work to do in the second half, Gavin Price made two changes at the break with Ewan Murray and Michael McArthur replacing Liam Duell and Seth Patrick.
Just four minutes into the second period City managed to reduce the deficit. Marc Scott’s excellent delivery from deep on the right found EWAN LOUDON lurking unmarked into the box and he nodded beyond MacDonald to get City back into the game.
The equaliser very nearly arrived for City five minutes later when Fraser MacLeod played a low corner into the centre of the box for Grady McGrath but his deflected strike produced a superb reflex save from the keeper.
City’s hopes of getting themselves back on level terms suffered a blow on 62 minutes as they gift-wrapped a 4th goal to Formartine. Michael McArthur’s slack backpass saw Lenny Wilson dispossessed by Wade on the right hand side of the box and although Wade’s effort was blocked by the City keeper, the ball fell kindly for ADAM EMSLIE who lofted the ball into the far corner despite the best efforts of Lewis Martin on the line.
Midway through the half, Ewan Murray sliced a volley over from Michael McArthur’s cross and shortly after, Lewis Martin headed narrowly wide from Murray’s corner.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Euan Spark won a free kick after being bundled over 25 yards out but the resulting free kick from Ewan Loudon ended well over the bar.
With 10 minutes remaining, City gave themselves hope of rescuing something from the game as they made it 4-3. Again Marc Scott’s deliveries were causing problems and this time his cross found a TRIALIST striker, who had replaced Ryan Ferguson just 9 minutes prior, to finish from close range.
City pushed forward in search of an equaliser but, despite Rhys Thomas being given his marching orders deep into stoppage time for a second yellow, they were unable to force an equaliser.
It was a case of deja-vu for City, with their last back-to-back defeats in the league also coming against Fraserburgh and Formartine United back in January 2022.
City will look to put this disappointment firmly behind them and get back to winning ways as we host Huntly next Saturday (2pm kick off).
Other Results - Breedon Highland League
Huntly 4 Rothes 4
Inverurie Locos 1 Turriff United 4
Keith 3 Deveronvale 2
Lossiemouth 0 Fraserburgh 1
Strathspey Thistle 0 Forres Mechanics 2