United’s title aspirations suffered a setback on Saturday as they were overpowered by a strong Lossiemouth side at The Playing Fields, Lossiemouth.
United’s cause was not helped by some very dubious refereeing, however to blame the referee would be coating over what was a wretched performance by the league leaders.
United gave starts to Craig Ritchie and Alan Reid as work commitments ruled out Danni Buchan and David Innes, with the latter’s absence being very noticeable in a Broch defence that were all at sea in the first-half.
The Broch kicked off into a strong wind, combined with the rain, snow and heavy underfoot conditions made football almost non-existent.
Lossie’s tactics were clear from the off, get the ball forward early and United were almost caught out when a long ball from Lossie keeper McLean flew over Hay’s head and Adembi fired wide when through on Dunbar’s goal.
With United’s midfield being outmuscled chances for the away side were few and far between, despite this Watt should have scored on 15 minutes. Reid and Rollo combined to send Watt through on goal, he rounded McLean but was denied by a great block on the line by Hastie.
United received a rash of bookings from the overly officious Auburn for innocuous tackles with the perpetrators being A. Ritchie, Hay and Ross.
Lossie players were not booked similarly, Mason’s tackle from behind on Rollo, in particular, looked nasty, with the Broch midfielder requiring some treatment in the aftermath.
On 26 minutes, Lossie were awarded a soft free-kick by referee Auburn after Noble appeared to win the ball cleanly from Reynolds. Hastie stepped up to blast the ball over to United’s relief.
United retaliated with a number of efforts from distance that were continually blocked by the forest of defenders Lossie set up in front of their goal - United were struggling to test keeper McLean.
The deadlock was broken on 43 minutes when United’s Hay naively lost possession 25-yards out and Bryson immediately fed Wilson inside the box, his shot took a huge deflection off Reid and looped over Dunbar to send Lossie in at the break one up.
United suffered a further blow as Bisset was forced off at half time with a hamstring injury, replaced by Steven Lawrence.
The Broch came out for the second half with all guns blazing, quickly pinning Lossie back for the opening minutes of the half. However it was the home side that pulled further ahead on 51 minutes.
Kellas’ corner from the left saw Noble and Wilson joust for position as the ball came over, to utter Broch disbelief referee Auburn whistled and pointed to the spot. United’s captain saw yellow for his protestations.
Wilson stepped up and expertly dispatched the ball beyond Dunbar.
United continued undeterred, dominating possession and territory yet without properly threatening McLean’s goal. The Lossie keeper did earn his corn, making a great save from Lawrence’s lob on 64 minutes.
As with the first-half, United were creating shooting opportunities but Lossie were throwing bodies in front of everything and defending resolutely.
On 80 minutes United were reduced to ten men, C. Ritchie picking up another booking for a mistimed challenge on Wilson.
United continued to press but could not breach the Lossie defence and the home side recorded a fine victory.