Inverurie Locos boss Andy Low hailed the patience of Jonny Smith after the striker marked his return to the side with a brace in last night’s 2-1 win over Formartine United.
Smith netted twice in the first half – a header and a penalty – to give Locos a merited victory at North Lodge Park.
Scott Lisle glanced in a header in the second half to drag United back into the game but ultimately it proved too big a mountain to climb.
Shortly after joining from Cove Rangers last summer, Smith suffered a serious knee injury.
It kept him out for most of last season.
Smith made some substitute appearances under previous Locos boss Neil Cooper before Low handed him his opportunity at Pitmedden last night.
Low said: “I thought Jonny was outstanding.
“He’s been waiting for his opportunity and I thought this was the right time to play him.
“He probably thought he could player sooner than this, but it’s about being patient.
“The patience has paid off,” he said.
“His all-round game was outstanding and he deserved his two goals.
“The lads stuck to the game plan and in the first half they were outstanding.
“At times in the second half we were a threat and I think we deserved the win. We worked hard for it.
“Formartine came on to us as we thought they would, but we still looked in control.”
Locos took the lead on 16 minutes when Smith got a touch on Ryan Stott’s corner and diverted it past Kevin Main, with skipper Neil McLean in close proximity.
He got his second from the penalty spot eight minutes later after chasing down a blocked clearance into the Formartine penalty area, before goalkeeper Main brought him down.
Smith made no mistake from 12 yards, crashing the ball down the middle.
The home side rallied a little in the second period with Lisle twice having shots at goal, one straight at Andy Reid and the other into the side-netting, while Smith had a header wide and a chance of a treble denied by the offside flag.
Lisle gave Formartine a sniff by flicking home substitute Andy Greig’s cross.
However, it was not enough to prompt a fightback.
Manager Paul Lawson felt his side left themselves too much to do in the second period.
He said: “We started the game all right but shot ourselves in the foot with the goal we conceded.
“It gave us a mountain to climb.
“I was looking for a reaction in the second half and while I think we got that slightly, I was still looking for more.
“We had a couple of half-chances but didn’t really trouble Andy Reid a whole lot.
“Credit to Inverurie, their shape was good and they executed their game plan well,” he added.
“It was a shock to lose the first goal but we need to be better at reacting.”
Formartine travel to Strathspey Thistle on Saturday, while Locos will take on struggling Clach.