Turriff United welcomed Strathspey Thistle to The Haughs for their third home game of the 2019-20 season this past weekend.
Manager Kris Hunter made three changes to the side which had suffered a humbling defeat at the hands of Inverurie Locos the week before as Dylan Stuart, Liam Norris and John Furey dropped out to be replaced by player/coach Roy McBain, the returning Drew Copeland and trialist former Dundee defender Ethan Smith.
Turriff started quickly with the obvious desire to put right the last result and a long clearance by Fraser Hobday was collected by Angus Grant who fired a ball across goal towards Robert Ward but the strikers effort went wide of the post on three minutes.
A headed clearance from Ethan Smith was picked up by Luke Kinsella wide left who did well to get past two Strathspey Thistle players before playing a fantastic threaded ball through for Angus Grant who managed to turn inside his man but his effort was saved by Michael MacCallum in the visiting goal.
With ten minutes on the clock Turriff had the lead their play deserved and what a goal it was! A long ball forward was collected by Angus Grant in a chase against the Strathspey defender, the striker who turned 21 this week managed to hold off his marker and turn back before laying the ball in towards Robert WARD, Ward took a touch to clear his feet before looking up and launching the ball with some power and venom as it looped over MacCallum and into the net to score his first ever goal for the club on his fourth appearance.
Strathspey thought they had equalised just a few minutes later as a short corner was played into the box and headed back across goal to the back post where it was knocked in past Hobday but the linesman had his flag raised for offside.
Strathspey were working hard for an equaliser and some good play through the middle saw Andrew Skinner getting his shot away but Hobday held well.
Thirty four minutes in and the game had its first yellow card….unusual in that it fell under the new rules and it was manager Kris Hunter who was on the receiving end after protesting the amount of decisions going against Turriff.
With forty minutes on the clock Strathspey had the ball in the net again, and this time it counted, a corner in led to some calamitous defending as the ball fell for Aidan HERSEE who fired home past Hobday.
It was almost two for Strathspey as a throw in from Owen Kinsella back to Hobday saw the goalkeeper collect with his feet but he was immediately under pressure from the Strathspey attack and the pressure almost paid off with the keeper almost losing the ball but thankfully managing to clear his lines.
HT Turriff United 1-1 Strathspey Thistle
The half time break saw Keir Smith come on in place of Lewis Buxton.
A rare misplaced pass from Roy McBain who had done well in central midfield in guiding the younger players through the game saw some pressure to the back line but a good block at the death from James Chalmers prevented Strathspey from taking the lead.
Centre half Ethan Smith launched a high free kick into the box and was headed out as far as Keir Smith who tried to dink the ball over the keeper but MacCallum was equal to the task and collected fairly easily.
A long free kick from Hobday made its way all the way to the by-line where it was kept in well by Keir Smith who on the bounce fired the ball directly across goal in the definition of route one but there was no takers on hand to profit from the opportunity and the ball was cleared.
Strathspey came close again as a free kick from Craig MacMillan went into the side netting with Hobday at full stretch and unable to get a hand on the ball.
Skinner went close again as a great run along the edge of the area culminated in a shot but Hobday managed to hold at the second attempt.
Turriff made their second change of the game with Michael Ewen replacing Roy McBain and it wasn’t long before the veteran striker had a part to play.
There was more drama first though as Aidan Hersee who had been booked for delaying the restart of play from a free kick earlier in the game scythed down Drew Copeland with a cynical tackle and was promptly given his marching order, he was swiftly followed by his manager who took his protestations too far and also saw red from referee Dan McFarlane.
A Keir Smith corner in found the head of Ethan Smith but the big defenders header was stopped on the line as it looked as if he was going to get a debut goal.
A Copeland free kick was played out wide left for Michael Ewen he cut the ball back on to his right foot and sent in a perfectly weighted cross for Cameron BOWDEN who rose highest to power home the header across goal and give Turriff a deserved lead on seventy three minutes.
With eighty two minutes gone Turriff had the chance to extend their lead as a battling run by substitute Michael Ironside saw him play the ball in for Robert Ward who used his exceptionally quick feet to burst his way into the box before he was felled with the referee having no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Ward having won the kick stepped up and lashed it towards goal, unfortunately the ball was at the perfect height for a full stretch MacCallum as he managed to push the ball away.
Turriff were piling on the pressure and another Ironside power run saw him fly into he box before firing in a shot but his effort was saved with eh rebound also deflected out as far as Owen Kinsella who saw his shot deflected wide for a corner.
Keir Smith played a cracking ball through for Ward but despite beating his man and getting one on one with the keeper he tried a delicate ship but MacCallum stuck out a hand to block.
Ward was involved again as he collected the ball on the right side with two players on him he showed some beautiful skill to dance his way past both players before driving into the box but his shot was just over the bar.
Turriff got their third goal right on full time as Drew Copeland managed to slide the ball through into the path of Robert WARD who this time made no mistake as he entered the box taking a look up and hitting it right across goal and into the top corner with the finish that matched if not bettered his first goal of the game.
Turriff United travel to Buckie Thistle on Aberdeenshire Cup duty on Wednesday the 21st and then to Keith as they return to Highland League action on the 24th. They round out the month with a home tie against Fraserburgh on the 31st.
FT Turriff United 3-1 Strathspey Thistle