Fraserburgh United recorded a stunning victory over league champions Inverness City at College Park on Saturday.
The win against the Highlanders was not only Broch’s second against them in seven days, but also saw the Buchan side leap frog them into top spot as the battle for the Championship comes to a blistering conclusion.
United now lie three points clear of Inverness with two games to play, however City have a game in hand and a far superior goal difference.
One slip up will give United the opportunity to repeat their league winning exploits of two years ago.
Andrew Ritchie, Ewan Taylor and Neil Hay came back into the starting line up for the unlucky Liam Rollo, Fraser Davidson and Gary Patterson. With longer term injury absentees Noble and McLeman still sidelined.
United stunned the away side when they took the lead after six minutes. A Bisset corner was cleared to the halfway line where Forbes lofted the ball back into the danger area and found Davey Innes whose looping header drifted over the static Young to give United the early break through.
United continued to press their early advantage and passed up another great opportunity on 17 minutes when Daz Ross nutmegged Skinner on the right and his cross found Taylor in acres of space but the young midfielder blasted over from 16yards.
Inverness began to get to grips with the game and forced their way back into it through their fluid passing game. After 26 minutes, Mason floated a pass into Sanderson’s chest and the striker laid the ball off for Fraser to drive the ball into Sinclair’s body from 20yards.
The momentum had definitely shifted and City began to apply steady pressure to the home side. United were now attacking only sporadically on the break with the pace of Watt and Bisset, but it was Inverness who were in the ascendancy.
Another City right wing attack saw the ball break to Murdoch just outside the Broch box and his driven shot appeared to hit Innes on the arm, however the centre half was barely a yard from the ball when it was struck with his arm also by his side and referee Adams correctly waved away appeals.
The second half kicked off with City again pushing forward, a slight tactical change saw them push Fraser farther up the park, but he was still struggling to get any change out of Innes.
Just as Inverness seemed sure to score, United grabbed a brilliant counter attacking second on 75mins.
Innes once again nipped the ball off Fraser and launched it into the Inverness half, Bisset turned on the afterburners and somehow caught and crossed the ball at the City by-line, Watt plucked the ball out of the air and immediately laid it off to Andrew Ritchie 18yards out, who buried the ball back across Young into the corner to give the Broch breathing space.
United replaced Bisset and A. Ritchie with Rollo and Lawrence as they sought to see out the game.
The goal had visibly shook the Highlander’s and their hold on the game loosened. The game had not been without incident, referee Adam’s to that point had shown six yellow cards, but it all came to a head nine minutes from time.
Fuller’s cross was mis-controlled by Sanderson under attention from Hay, and the City forward theatrically threw himself to the ground to try and con the referee.
Ref Adam’s waved play on and United broke with a three on two counter but suddenly play was called back to the Broch box. An off the ball altercation between Hay and Sanderson saw both players yellow carded – along with Mason for protesting – with the result being an indirect free-kick to City to the amazement of all.
Mason rolled the ball to Sanderson but Innes stuck out a leg and blocked the ball away for the first of an incredible eight corners in a row to Inverness – all of which came to nothing.
With two minutes remaining on the clock and just as the Broch looked to be holding out, City grabbed a goal. Murdoch found Fraser in the box and he brilliantly turned away from Innes before rifling into the far corner to give City a lifeline.
Ref Adam’s signalled five minutes of injury time and sure enough City created one last chance. Murdoch fired the ball into the box and as the ball ricocheted around it fell to McKenzie and his effort was brilliantly stopped by Sinclair before the ball was hooked off the line and away by the imperious Ross to cap an outstanding display.
Goalscorer David Innes said afterwards: “That was massive! It’s still not in our hands, but we’ve put the pressure on and if we can win our remaining games then we’ve done the best we can. It was a battling performance, but it always is against Inverness. They are a great side and it’s quite an achievement to take four points off them in a season and defeat them in a cup. I was very happy with the goal, it’s become a bit of a trademark, I’ve scored about six goals identical to that this season!’
United now travel to New Elgin on the 19th, before rounding off their league campaign at Dufftown on the 26th before facing New Elgin again on the 2nd of June in the MTM Construction Cup Final at Colony Park, Inverurie.
Updates on travel arrangements to the final will be on the United website www.fraserburghutd.co.uk as and when they are available.