Brechin City boss Gavin Price hailed his sharp-shooters as they roared to a 3-0 win at Lossiemouth to remain top of the Breedon Highland League.
First half goals from Ewan Loudon, Danny Handling and Marc Scott put the defending champions on their way to another crucial three points.
They couldn’t add to it in the second period, but it was a well-earned outcome on the road.
Price has recruited smartly over the winter as the former Elgin boss aims to drive the Angus club towards their second successive title.
It’s a result which keeps Brechin one point ahead of Banks o’ Dee with two games in hand.
Lossie’s defeat leaves them in 13th position, tucked just below Inverurie Locos and Forres Mechanics.
Price was more than happy with the manner of the win as he praised on-loan Cove Rangers defender Luke Strachan for his efforts on his first outing in City colours.
He said: “I was really pleased with how we played in the first half in particular. We moved the ball quickly and played with a real intensity.
“Credit to Lossiemouth – they stuck to their task and made it difficult, although we still created chances in the second half. It was not quite as fluid as the first half.
“We took Luke Strachan off – it was his first game in about six months (due to an ankle operation), so we didn’t want to overdue it with him. It affected the balance a little bit.
“Overall, it was a satisfying evening, especially the first half performance, which was really good.”
The visitors fielded two loan signings as their changes from the side which recently defeated Rothes 3-1.
Strachan came in for his debut, while Dundee forward Jamie Richardson made his first start.
Lossie made four changes to the side which lost 6-1 against Banks o’ Dee, with Michael Weir, Lewis McAndrew, Jared Kennedy and Ross Morrison stepping up.
City started on the front foot, with ex-Edinburgh City forward Handling heading over the top.
The opener arrived on 18 minutes though as Strachan’s ball driven into the box was guided past Cameron Farquhar by Loudon for his fifth goal in as many games.
— Brechin City FC (@BrechinCityFC) January 24, 2024
Five minutes later, Handling scored his first City goal since joining last month as he crashed home a fine shot.
City got their third on 37 minutes as Scott rifled a shot high into the net, rounding off a slick, sharp move.
The first chance of the second half stemmed from a move down the right and ended when Loudon looped a header over the top from a Scott delivery.
The Hedgemen knocked at the door in the closing spells, but could not add to their tally established in the first half.
This Saturday, Brechin will hope Strathspey Thistle’s Seafield Park pitch is fine for their visit, while Lossie are home to Rothes.
Keith 1-3 Banks o’ Dee
A first half double from on-loan Caley Thistle striker Ethan Cairns inspired Banks o’ Dee to a comfortable win over Keith at Kynoch Park.
Cairns had the first real effort at goal on 10 minutes, firing into side-netting from a Max Alexander flick on.
Dee took the lead in the 17th minute when Chris Antoniazzi dinked a superb ball in behind and Cairns volleyed beyond Craig Reid from 12 yards.
Cairns grabbed his and Dee’s second ten minutes later, winning the battle with Adam Morrison and drilling low beyond Reid into the bottom left corner.
Full time in Keith, another 3️⃣ points and 3️⃣ goals tonight, including a brace on his first start Ethan Cairns, and one for Max Alexander 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/tyD3BEXOBj
— Banks o' Dee FC (@banksodee_fc) January 24, 2024
Just before the break, a Liam Duncan corner from left was spilled onto the crossbar by Kyle Irvine and scrambled clear by the visiting defence.
Alexander should have made it three on 48 minutes when he burst through, but he was denied by a fine save from Reid.
Morrison was booked on 52 minutes for bringing down Alexander on the edge of the penalty area. The resultant free kick from Alexander was straight at Reid.
Dee made it three on 54 minutes, a corner was half cleared then miss-hit back into the area by Antoniazzi, and Alexander diverted it high beyond the luckless Reid.
Rothes 2-2 Formartine United
A share of the points was just about right Rothes and Formartine United drew 2-2 in a pulsating encounter at Mackessack Park last night.
The playing surface was in pretty good condition at kick-off despite recent snow and heavy rain.
Greg Morrison forced United keeper Ewen Macdonald into making a fine diving save in the fifth minute as the home side made a promising start.
Four minutes later home number one Sean McCarthy did even better to deny Formartine skipper Graeme Rodger twice in quick succession.
There was nothing between the two sides in the first 20 minutes but Rothes shocked the visitors in the 24th minute when Gary Kerr hammered the ball into the roof of the underside of the crossbar.
Six minutes later Formartine were back on level terms, Aidan Combe running on to slide the ball under the diving McCarthy from 10 yards.
Rothes 2-2 Formartine
Goals from Gary Kerr and Liam Shewan put us twice ahead but goals from Aidan Combe and Julien Wade ensured the points are shared. pic.twitter.com/hITDqT0A8M
— Rothes FC (@RothesFC) January 24, 2024
Two minutes later Combe passed up a gilt-edged chance when he fired wide from 12 yards out with the goal gaping.
Two minutes after the restart Rothes regained the lead when Liam Shewan’s 20-yard drive on the angle flew into the net off the underside of the bar.
Shortly after a flashing angled drive from Morrison was inches away from making it 3-1 to the home side.
Then Adam Emslie blazed high over from good position as Formartine pressed for an equaliser.
The visitors equalised in the 74th minute when Rothes failed to clear a long throw and Julian Wade stabbed the ball home from six yards.
With two minutes to go United substitute Paul Campbell fired high over the top from six yards out.