United record an overdue win

Fraserburgh United finally registered a win this season against last year’s Superleague runners-up, Stonehaven, at College Park on Saturday.

The result was in no small part due to a huge effort by the Broch players as, to a man, they matched their opponents.

16-year-old James Gibb again grabbed the headlines with a stunning double, but former player Nicki Tait – returning for his first start in three years – will draw deserved plaudits for a brilliant old fashioned winger’s performance.

Manager Gary Sim made a few changes from last week’s loss as the injured Taylor and Ross made way for Downie and Tait.

In an interesting twist of fortune, former Buchanhaven goalie Gatt crossed the Peterhead/Fraserburgh divide to start in goal for United, and he was soon in action as Stonehaven flew out of the blocks in the first-half, Watt’s left wing cross finding the head of Croll 6-yards out, but Gatt pulled off a tremendous save low to his right.

Stonehaven continued to pile on the early pressure and took the lead on nine minutes.

Another Watt cross caused havoc in the Broch box and during the ensuing scramble McIntosh managed to prod the ball low into the left corner to give Stonehaven a deserved lead. As in recent weeks, United did not give up and fought their way back into the game.

The Broch drew level on 26 minutes, Hay breaking down a Stonehaven attack and trading passes with Tait before ripping an effort on goal that Smith could only parry out to Gibb, who was on it in a flash to slam the ball home.

United suffered a blow minutes later as chronic ankle injury sufferer Neil Forbes again pulled up and was replaced by Andrew Ritchie.

The half-time whistle came just at the right moment, United regrouping and whatever manager Sim said at half-time obviously working a treat.

Shortly after the restart, the Broch took the lead. Lawrence drew a foul from Low 22 yards out, Ritchie stepping up to send a shot toward the far left corner. With Hive keeper Smith unsighted, the ball slowly rolled into the corner of the net to give Ritchie his first goal of the season.

Just as it looked like United had weathered the worst of the storm, Stonehaven fighting their way back into the game, the visitors drew level.

Rollo’s naive challenge on Croll gave the opposition a free kick 25 yards out, and, in an almost carbon copy of Ritchie’s earlier goal, Low swept a low shot around the wall and into the far corner.

At this point Stonehaven looked to be in charge and they again came close minutes later when Croll’s header was plucked out of the air by Gatt. Sub Reid, on for the injured Hay, made an important block as Horne’s shot looked goal bound.

With Stonehaven pressing, United countered in typical fashion on 83 minutes.

McLeman stole possession from Murray and found Watt on the half way line.

As the Broch frontman reached the byline he cut the ball back where Gibb had cleverly positioned himself, and the young Fraserburgh FC player finished with maturity to make it four goals in three starts.

There was still time for one last act of drama. Stonehaven’s Alexander, who advanced into the box, challenged by Reid’s searing pace which got him back in time to make a super tackle, the ball rolling out for a corner.

To everyone’s bemusement, the linesman flagged for a penalty. Referee Veitch, though, discussed the issue briefly before overruling him.

A visibly jubilant Broch manager, Gary Sim, said afterwards: “It’s been a very tough start to the season, no question, but I’ve always believed in these players and hopefully now they will believe in themselves too.

“Stonehaven are a very good side and we matched them for 90 minutes and took what I felt was a deserved three points.

The whole squad, not just the first eleven, performed superbly. Now we can look forward to next week at Culter with a wee bit of belief.”

UNITED: Gatt, Hay, Innes, Downie, Forbes, McLeman, Lawrence, Tait, Watt, Gibb, Rollo. Subs: Sinclair, Reid, Ritchie, Cowie, Taylor