Formartine United defeated Brechin City 1-0 to dent the Hedgemen’s Breedon Highland League title challenge.
Graeme Rodger’s first half goal was the difference between the sides with this loss a further blow to the Angus side after losing 5-3 to league leaders Fraserburgh on Monday.
Andy Kirk’s side remain fifth in the table, six points off the summit, while Formartine are sixth, but moved to within two points of City with this win.
Hosts make first half breakthrough
The opening quarter was competitive, without many chances being created.
Both sides matched each other in 4-3-3 formations and space for attackers was at a premium.
For the visitors Michael Paton sent a couple of long range efforts wide, while at the other Jonny Smith was also off target with a speculative strike from outside the area.
Formartine were forced into a defensive reshuffle after 20 minutes. Aaron Norris, who had been playing at right-back, had to come off injured.
Midfielder Tyler Mykyta came on with Jonny Crawford moving from centre-back to right-back, Stuart Smith tucking in from left-back to centre-back and Kieran Lawrence switching from midfield to left-back.
On 24 minutes Brechin had the first decent opening with Jamie Bain’s cross from the right picking out the sliding Garry Wood, but he scooped the ball over the bar.
Shortly after Bain was involved at the other end with his terrific sliding challenge stopping Scott Lisle pulling the trigger.
It was United who took the lead in the 32nd minute with Daniel Park’s cross from the right kept alive by Cole Anderson on the left side of the box.
He found Rodger who spun away from his marker and finished low into the bottom right corner from 16 yards.
As the interval approached Smith headed over from Crawford’s deep cross.
A minute before the break it could, and perhaps should, have been 2-0 with Lisle’s back-heel releasing Smith inside the box but his low strike was saved by City goalkeeper Jack Wills.
Brechin then had a couple of chances of their own. First home goalkeeper Ewen Macdonald was at full stretch to turn away Cameron Ross’ strike from 20 yards.
From the resultant corner Michael Paton’s delivery was stabbed wide by Jack Milne.
City look for response
It was Ross who had the first effort of the second period, but his shot from the edge of the area was comfortably dealt with by Macdonald.
However, much like the first half, opportunities continued to be limited.
Brechin tried to pen Formartine in at times, but they struggled to penetrate the home defence.
It was United who had the next decent chance on 72 minutes with Mykyta’s delightful through ball finding Smith, but when through one on one he could only jab his shot against Wills who spread himself well.
Soon after substitute Kevin Hanratty almost had a chance. The Aberdeen loanee collected Park’s perfect pass, but Kevin McHattie made a last-ditch tackle to save City.
In the 78th minute Brechin had an effort at goal but Milne’s shot from the left of the box was straight at Macdonald. Seconds later Kieran Inglis flashed a cross right across the face of goal but there were no takers.
Brechin’s best chance to level came with 10 minutes remaining when McHattie’s long ball picked out Wood but he drilled narrowly wide when completely free.