A late own goal earned Inverurie Locos a point at a blustery Bellslea Park last Wednesday, with the side showing resilience on three occasions to snatch a draw against Fraserburgh, even after Graeme Stewart left Locos a man short after a dismissal just over a quarter into the game for a lunge on Mark Cowie.
Fraserburgh – with 15 goals to their name in their last 3 matches – got the early advantage via the penalty spot.
Marc Dickson’s channelled ball caught Scott Barbour off the shoulder of Keiron Adams, Barbour drew Adams into making a challenge as he skipped by the Locos centre-half, but was tugged back as he got his shot away, and referee Callum Spence showed fine officiating by allowing Barbour the advantage before awarding the penalty. Dean Cowie then coolly sidefooted down the middle of the goal to open the scoring account for the evening.
But Inverurie then drew themselves level for the first time in the game, Jamie Michie’s cross-field free-kick was flicked on by Scott Begg, and Neil Gauld sneaked in behind the Fraserburgh back line before perfectly executing the half-volley beyond goalkeeper Joe Barbour.
The one-man benefit seemed to work in Fraserburgh’s favour soon after, a lovely flighted free-kick from Allan Hale into the 6-yard box was met highest by Bryan Hay, heading into the far corner to continue his atypical run of a goal in three consecutive games, ironically the only occasions in which the centre-half has found the net this season.
The Locos soon pegged back Fraserburgh again, the home side looking unable to hold onto their one-goal advantage after taking the lead for a second time. Neil Gauld again capitalised on the long-ball effect; Hay being caught underneath Ryan Broadhurst’s pass over and Gauld spectacularly looped the ball over the head of Barbour before it just elegantly dropped underneath the crossbar.
Fraserburgh came out in the second half eager to once again grab the initiative, and very nearly did so through Barbour, his volley was acrobatically palmed over by Reid after Johnston’s dinked square ball, before Gauld came close to completing a thrilling hat-trick, having his close-range header saved straight into the arms of Joe Barbour after getting in front of Hay from John Maitland’s flick-on.
Allan Hale was then twice in the thick of the action when initially playing the balll down the flank to Barbour, who skipped by the challenge of a marker before setting up the winger on the edge of the area, but he sidefooted wide with the aid of a clearance from Neil McLean, and then just mistimed his run into the 6-yard box as the ball flashed across goal from the resulting low corner.
It had certainly been a plucky showing from Inverurie who were refusing to back down despite the obvious disadvantage in personnel which they inhabited on a ground where many teams would not have shown the same character, and completed the hat-trick of comebacks.
A soft free-kick was awarded right on the brink of Inverurie’s penalty area, and with several players mulling around the ball it was Scott Barbour who got his customary goal for the evening, his 14th of the season, by lifting the set-piece effort over the wall and just dipping to beat Reid at his far post.
But it was through the virtue of the own goal in which the Locos grabbed the final goal of the game, Joe Barbour had done well to deny Gauld the hat-trick after Hay was caught out by McLean’s long throw-in, harrying William West into heading into his own net from Andy Low’s delivery from the left, the disappointment on the faces of players clearly evident for everyone to see.