F ormartine United closed the gap on Fraserburgh in third place to eight points with a game in-hand after a hard-earned victory over Strathspey Thistle.
United led from a James McShane penalty but Gary McGowan levelled for United before the break. A brilliantly taken double from Conor Gethins, sealed the win, and McGowan’s late double, completing his hat-trick, added the gloss.
Formartine rested five players, keeper Kevin Main, midfielders Wayne Mackintosh and Stuart Anderson and strikers Garry Wood and Archie Macphee, but all of them were on the bench, just in case.
Strathspey Thistle fielded trialist goalkeeper Ryan Hunter as regular number one Michael MacCallum was unavailable due to work commitments.
At the other end James Fraser tried his luck from distance but Ewan Macdonald in the United goal gathered competently, and shortly after Ross Naismith volleyed the rebound, after his 30-yard free-kick had been blocked by the Formartine defensive wall, past the post.
Strathspey Thistle shocked the home side when they took thre lead in the 13th minute, Macdonald brought down Scott Graham in the box and James McShane sent the unfortunate goalkeeper the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick.
Only a superb headed clearance by Jevan Anderson stopped Scott Lisle from doubling Strathspey’s lead in the 20th minute.
Formartine equalised in the 27th minute when Stuart Smith’s cross was headed home by recent signing from Huntly, Gary McGowan.
Five minutes from the break Scott Lisle brilliantly beat his man to set up James Fraser but his shot was comfortably held by Macdonald in the United goal.
The first half was as entertaining as I’ve seen all season with both sides looking to get the ball down on an excellent surface and play attractive football.
The longer the game went on at 1-1 United manager Paul Lawson must have been more than tempted to throw on some of the big guns he had warming the bench.
Seven minutes after the restart Aaron Norris thought he’s fired his side ahead but young Jags keeper Hunter made a magnificent flying save to palm the ball away.
However, in the 55th minute Formartine did take the lead when Crawford’s ball into the box picked out Conor Gethins who brilliantly back-heeled the ball into the corner of the net.
Two minutes later both McGowan and Graeme Rodger saw net-bound efforts cleared off the line.
But 60 seconds later United were 3-1 up, it was that man Gethins again, this time with an unstoppable low 10-yard drive giving Hunter no chance.
Five minutes from time McGowan also grabbed his second of the night with a rising 12 yard drive and he completed his hat-trick in the 90th minute when he clipped the ball home at the back post.