Formartine United ended their three game losing run but this was far from a well-earned victory with Clachnacuddin very unlucky not to go away with one if not three points, controversial decisions robbing the Lilywhites of a happy visit to North Lodge Park.
The Pitmedden side had lost eleven goals against Aberdeen, Wick Academy and Fraserburgh, and the lacklustre atmosphere around the ground at kick off painted the picture of an end of season game rather than one with a potentially exciting campaign ahead.
It was the visitors who could have taken the lead in the opening two minutes, attacking midfielder Scott MacLean going right in on goal and seeing his header fumbled for a corner by Andy Reid.
With Garry Wood on the bench and Neil Gauld, Conor Gethins and Scott Barbour up front, the first Formartine chance saw Gauld have a shot coming back off the legs of John Campbell.
The early season nerves again came to the fore in the 19th minute. A long clearance out of the visiting defence was not cut out by central defender Scott Henry and the ever alert and nippy forward Blair Lawrie was quickly on to the loose ball, he sent a high dipping drive over the head of the exposed Andy Reid, with the ball going in off the underside of the crossbar.
Four minutes later came a highly controversial equaliser. From a Paul Lawson corner on the left Conor Gethins connected with an overhead acrobatic kick and the ball looked to have hit the goal line via the hand of Struan Scott-Woodhouse, but on the call of stand side Assistant Referee Daniel Donohoe, it was the award of a goal otherwise Dan McFarlane was pointing to a penalty and an almost certain sending off.
Campbell made another good save this time from Barbour after good work by Jamie Michie and near half time, there was no power in the shot from Gauld when supplied by Barbour, then Graeme Rodger joined in with the nervousness when he fired high over.
Meanwhile the Lilywhites started the second half still fully concentrated on making something from their feelings of injustice. Substitute Fraser Robertson’s angled low shot right across the face of goal just needed a final tap in and the experienced Stuart Leslie saw a header from a free kick go inches away from putting the underdogs back in front.
The in-form Campbell made a great block from Gethins but the counter attacking was ongoing with another sub Mark Kennedy firing in a shot that came off the outside of the post
With Campbell doing the business continually and Barbour and Paul Lawson seeing efforts saved, a draw looked odds-on, although Ian Penwright also had a good opportunity to grab the points for his team.
However, well into injury time the referee bowed to a soft penalty claim after Ryan Mackintosh was deemed to have connected with the foot of Barbour. Captain Paul Lawson sent the ball comfortably to Campbell’s right for a well undeserved winner.