Inverurie Locos defeated nine-man Brora Rangers 2-1 at Harlaw Park in an ill-tempered affair.
Brora will be without key defender Colin Williamson, who was sent off at the start of the second half, for this weekend’s North of Scotland Cup final meeting with Rothes.
The victory leaves Locos second in the Breedon Highland League with six wins and three draws from their opening 10 games with their only defeat to leaders Fraserburgh.
The game was delayed by 16 minutes after the assistant referee took unwell with former Peterhead striker and Highland League official Alfie Smith stepping in as a replacement.
Tom Kelly put the Cattachs in front in nine minutes after cutting in from the right before finishing with his left foot.
Neil Gauld levelled for Locos eight minutes later with his low effort beating Brora goalkeeper Joe Malin.
Brora were dealt a blow early in the second half when Williamson saw red for a challenge on Nathan Meres.
Former Cove Rangers player Sam Burnett grabbed the winner after 79 minutes with a superb strike with Robert Ward hitting the crossbar from the penalty spot in injury time.
— InverurieLocoWorksFC (@InverurieLocos) September 25, 2021
Brora defender Josh Meekings was shown a second yellow to leave his team with only nine men with only three minutes to go.
There were more heated scenes at the final whistle which resulted in Locos substitute Jamie Michie and new Brora boss Craig Campbell both seeing red.
Locos boss Richard Hastings said: “We wanted a response to going out of the Scottish Cup and we got it in a really hard-fought game with both teams strong on the day.
“I’m really pleased Sam Burnett produced a goal of such quality to win the game but disappointed in the ill-tempered finish to the game ”
Brora boss Campbell said: “We started positively with a good finish from Tom Kelly and had a series of shots cleared off the line but when you don’t score a second you are open to being vulnerable.
“I am proud of my players for their work rate and effort when down to ten men.
“We were looking for a positive response here. They were celebrating at the end while we were hurting. But we know what it takes to regroup and win a league.”
Amidst all the drama of yesterday's superb win against Brora, just a mention that Ali Russell, the linesman who took poorly at the start of the match, has fully recovered. He's also made contact with us to thank staff at both clubs for their care and attention. ⚽👍
— InverurieLocoWorksFC (@InverurieLocos) September 26, 2021
Rothes 4-1 Clachnacuddin
Rothes extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 13 games to move up to fourth place in the Highland League table.
Speysiders boss Ross Jack confirmed that he had shuffled the pack with next Saturday’s North of Scotland Cup final against Brora Rangers in mind.
He said: “I made a few changes. The players were told so nobody can come around next weekend and say that they were denied the opportunity to stake a place in the cup final side.
“I thought that we totally dominated the game for the first 35 minutes but then we allowed Clach into it with that goal right on half-time.
“After that we changed the half-time team talk and things sorted themselves out in the second half and I’m delighted with a 4-1 win.”
Before kick-off there was a minute’s silence in memory of former long-serving Rothes secretary Neil McKenzie and inside-forward Ronnie Grant, who graced Mackessack Park in the 1960s, who had both died recently.
Rothes opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Aidan Wilson lashed the ball past a helpless Martin Mackinnon.
Two minutes from the break Rothes doubled their advantage when Wilson notched his second with a crisp finish before Lewis Nicolson pulled one back for Clach on the stroke of half-time.
Rothes made it 3-1 in the 78th minute when central defender Michael Finnis netted at the back post.
Two minutes later brilliant play up the right by Ross Gunn presented fellow substitute Craig Cormack with a gilt-edged chance and the ex-Keith forward made no mistake from six yards.
Clach boss Jordan Macdonald said: “Poor marking and poor decision-making cost us but I can’t complain too much as we’ve lost the game to a top six side. We’re aspiring to get there, but it’s going to take time.”
Brechin City 4-1 Forres Mechanics
Brechin City moved up to third place in the Highland League table following a comfortable 4-1 home victory over Forres Mechanics.
The final score-line should have been more emphatic given the number of chances that City squandered over the course of the 90 minutes but manager Andy Kirk was nevertheless absolutely delighted with his team’s performance.
“I thought that we played really well for large parts of the game today,” he said.
“We moved the ball well, we created problems and we created lots of chances and it’s just that last wee part that’s on the verge of clicking into place.
“We won the game comfortably today and we could have won by more goals but there are lots of positives to take from our performance.”
City grabbed the opening goal after 21 minutes when on-loan St Johnstone youngster Max Kucheriavyi dispatched a stunning free-kick into the top corner of the net.
The visitors shocked their hosts with the equaliser 11 minutes later when Scott Sloane headed home a Robert Duncanson corner.
However, City picked up the pace again at the beginning of the second half and they regained the advantage in the 54th minute when Julian Wade headed home a Kucheriavyi shot that was going wide with Marc Scott adding a third goal in the 70th minute.
City kept up the pressure and substitute Rory Currie completed the scoring 12 minutes from time when he raced clear of the Forres back-line before dispatching a low drive into the bottom corner of the net.
Forres manager Charlie Rowley said: “We were beaten by the better side on the day.
” I was really impressed by Brechin from minute one to minute ninety. They are a very strong team but we were a bit short on the standards we’ve set ourselves which is always a disappointment.
“I wasn’t surprised at how good they were and they’re probably the best side we’ve played this season.”