Formartine United won the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup thanks to Garry Wood’s 44th-minute strike against Cove Rangers at Balmoor, Peterhead, on Saturday.
Cove tried hard to overcome the deficit in the second half but found the United defence, in particular central halves Scott Henry and Craig McKeown, in inspired form. McKeown was named the sponsors’ man of the match.
Young Formartine goalkeeper Ewen Macdonald, who was also in inspired form for United, was delighted to collect his first medal in Highland football.
He said: “The boys have been pushing for a couple of years to take some silverware to the club and I think we’ve underachieved a wee bit but all that hard work has paid off today.
“It was a great time for us to score just a minute from half-time. We had to soak up a lot of pressure in the first half as Cove were good.
“It was an allround team effort today, I thought our entire back-four were tremendous as a unit.”
Both teams were at full strength.
Ryan Strachan went close for Cove in the third minute but his angled drive fron 12 yards went past the upright without troubling Macdonald in the Formartine goal.
In the 10th minute Macdonald was called into action for the first time, firstly to parry a Jamie Masson drive and then the United number one got down bravely to block Sam Burnett’s close-range effort.
Four minutes later Archie Macphee’s 22-yard low free kick was scrambled past the post by Cove goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie.
Formartine continued to force the pace and went close to opening the scoring when Scott Barbour’s 19th-minute cross was nodded on by Wood to Graeme Rodger, whose header under pressure from two Cove defenders looped just over the crossbar.
Two minutes later keeper McKenzie got down well to smother a kow 16-yard Wood drive.
Cove’s Mitch Megginson shot well wide of the target in the 23rd minute as the game flowed.
At the other end, Scott Ross’s downward header brought out a superb diving back-post save from Macdonald, then the Formartine number one was in exactly the right place to gather Burnett’s overhead kick.
A minute from the break Formartine took the lead, a superb long ball from McKeown set Barbour free up the left and when his drive was fumbled by McKenzie Wood was on hand to stab home the opener from four yards. Eleven minutes after the break Cove brought on striker Daniel Park in place of Burnett, who had picked up a knock a few minutes earlier.
Just after the hour Macdonald dived to his right to brilliantly hold on to a ferocious Megginson 20-yarder as Cove strove for the equaliser. Formartine were defending deeper and deeper, a dangerous ploy.
A rampaging run up the right flank by Wood ended with Formartine gaining a fruitless corner kick.
Cove replied immediately with a Park header which was cleared off the line by Scott Henry.
With four minutes to go Park fired wildly over from 10 yards.
Cove midfielder Craig Campbell said: “We were disappointed but cup finals are normally decided by narrow margins and it probably wasn’t our best performance today.
“Our focus from the start of the season has been the league and nothing changes in that. We are disappointed but I’d like to congratulate Formartine. There wasn’t much between the two teams, they’ve reacted to a ball quicker than we did and it could easily have happened the other way. This time the plaudits go to Formartine.”