Blair Smith had a debut to remember as he scored the only goal of the game to send Locos through to the semi-final of the GPH Builders Merchants Highland League Cup. In a proverbial game of two halves, Smith scored during a dominant first half before the hosts came right back into the tie after the break.
Locos were presented with an opportunity just a few minutes into the game as they were awarded an indirect free kick twelve yards from goal after home goalkeeper David Dey handled a back pass. The ball was knocked back to Garry Wood but his drive was blocked. Craig Gill then tried his luck from outside the box but could only fire over.
The game was being played almost exclusively in the Turriff half but the hosts had an opportunity on the break shortly before the half hour mark but the effort was blasted over from a tight angle. At the other end, Dey made a routine save from a Robert Ward shot but couldn’t hold the next shot that came his way, pushing the ball back out in front of goal where Smith got his head to the ball but couldn’t direct it on target.
The youngster didn’t have to wait long to open his account for the Railwaymen though. The ball was worked to Greg Mitchell, who was proving a threat down the right hand side, and he cut the ball back for Smith to finish.
Locos continued to dominate but couldn’t find a second goal before the half time whistle. The slender margin gave Turra hope as they looked to get on the front foot immediately in the second half. Ewan Clark fired over and Jordan Cooper forced a save from Andy Reid as the pattern of play was almost a complete reversal of the first half. United were getting a high number of crosses into the box and, although Locos were largely managing to deal with them, they weren’t able to make the ball stick further up the pitch, allowing the home side to keep the pressure on. Locos did offer sporadic threat on the break however, and well worked move ended with Ward shooting high.
With 20 minutes remaining, Kyle Gordon missed a glorious opportunity to equalise, heading a cross for the left over the bar from close range. At that point Turriff were probably starting to think it wasn’t going to be their day and that feeling was strengthened ten minutes later when they went down to 10 men. Max Foster clipped Nathan Meres as his excellent run saw him bearing down on the penalty area. Referee Scott Donohoe then appeared to show the defender two yellow cards followed by a red, apparently giving one booking for a foul earlier in the move and another for the trip. Whatever the reason, the dismissal finally allowed Locos to see the game out comfortably.
Cup football is all about getting a result but this game was in the balance for most of the 90 minutes and Locos had to be resilient to maintain their advantage in the second half. Richie Hastings will no doubt be delighted with the impact of Smith who not only scored the winner but looked confident and composed before being replaced after 67 minutes.
Turriff United: Dey, Kinsella, Cheyne, Foster, Chalmers, Strachan, Cooper (McKeown), Cormack (McKenzie), Clark, Gordon, K Smith (Thompson) Unused Subs: E Smith, Livingstone, Findlay
Locos: A Reid, T Reid, Mitchell, Souter, Johnstone, Ward (Alberts), Wood, Thain (Robertson), Smith (Petermann), Gill, Meres Unused Subs: Farquhar