Jonny Smith’s first-half brace gave Inverurie a 2-1 win over Formartine at North Lodge Park.
A header and a penalty put Locos two clear at the interval and even after a Scott Lisle goal with 15 minutes to go threatened to deny them the points, Andy Low’s side held on.
After a couple of early half-chances for the home side, Locos took the lead on 16 minutes when Ryan Stott hung a near-post corner on keeper Kevin Main and Smith turned the ball into the net.
Locos were beginning to take advantage of some slack distribution by Formartine, with Andy Hunter’s meandering run unfortunate not to be rewarded with a goal.
Ex-Cove forward Smith got his second from the spot on 24 minutes. An attempted Formartine clearance was blocked by Locos defender Eric Watson, inadvertently springing Smith clear. Main advanced to close him down but Smith was able to prod the ball past him before being upended.
In no mood to pass up his opportunity, Smith crashed home the penalty to extend the visitors’ lead. He came close to an audacious third just after the half-hour mark, as he attempted to lift Thomas Reid’s pass over Main from the right side of the area. Unfortunately for him, it looped wide.
The closest United came to pulling one back before the break was through Lisle, when he hooked wide on the turn from a Stuart Smith knock-down.
Formartine needed a response quickly to stand any chance of getting back into the game and a Lisle effort from 30 yards, which dipped in front of Andy Reid, was well held by the Locos stopper. Lawrence was next to take aim from 30 yards but his attempt blazed harmlessly over.
Paul Lawson’s side were probing and looked more of a threat than in the first 45 but were struggling to force anything meaningful from Reid. Lisle shot into the side netting from sub Andrew Greig’s cut-back but Locos were holding them at arms’ length.
The away side remained a threat on the counter and Smith again came close to adding to his tally, steering a header just wide from Thomas Reid’s back-post cross. He had another disallowed for offside after following up from Greg Mitchell’s saved shot.
Lisle finally handed Formartine a lifeline with 15 minutes to go, glancing in Greig’s cross, but the home side were unable to find the leveller.