Aberdeenshire AFA

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Portlethen United 2 – 0 Stonehaven Athletic

Division One (East) at Nicol Park, Portlethen on Saturday 17th March

Report by Scott McPherson

Portlethen United and RGU both continued their fight for the Division One (East) title with two hard fought victories, beating Stonehaven Athletic 2-0 and Banchory 2-3 respectively. Portlethen stabilised their lead over the students with a difficult, fog-affected home win over Stonehaven.

Despite the thick, low fog the game at Nicol Park went ahead. Athletic may be comfortable in mid-table but they still had plenty to play for with it being a local derby and revenge on their minds, trying to avenge the 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

However, the game started at a slow tempo with the ball being in the middle of the park for the majority of the first 20 minutes with neither side taking initiative. Until a set piece worthy of being seen at a higher level broke the stalemate.

A corner from winger Jordan Bragg was met by a bullet header from Kevin Davidson whose effort flew into the top left hand corner. A fantastic header, but the away side will be left asking who was marking the Portlethen sweeper.

After getting the opening goal you would have expected the leaders to push on but that never materialised. The game again went into a state of nothingness as both teams cancelled each other out but I’m sure the two sides will tell you that the fog played a huge part in that.

Although, United showed their title winning credentials by scoring again while they weren’t playing well. Striker Jordan Gray cut in from the left to curl a cross shot across goal which striker Craig Will attacked and the ball squirmed into the corner. Like every good striker, the number 9 put his hand in the air claiming the goal.

In the fog it was near impossible to see whether he got a touch or not. After the game, Craig Will said: “Yes I got a touch. I felt it flick off my stud, wasn’t my best goal but they all count.”

The travellers only two half chances came shortly after the second goal. Firstly, midfielder Stuart Elliot volleyed narrowly wide from the edge of the box after trialist goalkeeper Danny Cowie dropped the ball at his feet. Striker Scott Reid finally worked ‘keeper Cowie but could only hit it straight at him from a tight angle after shrugging off defender Davidson from a throw-in.

Half-time: 2 – 0

In the second half Portlethen considerably improved and started to control the game. Despite all their effort and grit Stonehaven never really looked like scoring.

Porty should have added to their lead 20 minutes from time when substitute Michael Christie flicked on for fellow striker Will who from the left corner of the 18 yard box, opened his foot up to cross for Bragg whose effort from 4 yards was blocked by the ‘keeper Roy Middleton who appeared to haul down midfield engine Ryan McIntosh but the referee waved away the penalty claims.

Late on Portlethen midfielder Steven Mathieson showed his ability from a dead ball situation creating two fantastic chances for his teammates. His first free kick was flicked on before sub Christie smashed the ball off the crossbar from 6 yards. A minute later, another Mathieson delivery gave the other striker Will a chance from 6 yards but he could only bundle it past the goal after seeing it late.

With the last action of the game defender Davidson nearly grabbed himself a second. This effort was almost identical to his first, apart from this time his powerful header was headed off the line by a defender on the post.

Both sides showed their passion and desire to win this local derby but Portlethen just showed that extra bit of quality in the final third to win to prove that they have all the resources to go on and win the league with their young, local side.