Promising start fizzles out

SATURDAY’S game kicked off in glorious sunshine but with a strong wind blowing the length of the pitch.

Maud elected to kick-off with the wind in the first half and the decision almost immediately paid dividends.

Allan Hale received the ball 30 years from the Stonehaven penalty area and made a direct line for goal, as he was inside the box he was tripped from behind and Maud were awarded a penalty after less than minute.

Unfortunately from Maud’s point of view, Hive keeper Smith guessed the right way for Hales resulting penalty and beat the ball away to prevent Maud taking an early lead.

On 16 minutes Graeme Bain put a ball across to the far post, again from free play, to Greg Alexander but his shot was over the bar.

Maud were starting to turn the screw with some neat football, this almost saw them take the lead in the 18th minute when Morrice collected the ball and ran past three defenders into the Hive area where only a last minute block prevented a goal.

It wasn’t long in coming though because a minute late, Morrice again got the ball but instead of running into the area he elected to run along the 18-yard line. When he got a clear view of the Hive goal he unleashed a rising shot that Smith had no chance to stop and Maud finally got the goal their play deserved.

Morrice again nearly scored but a fantastic one-handed save from Smith again prevented Maud from scoring to give away a corner.

On 24 minutes Maud’s good work was almost undone by another simple ball over the top from Hive to Horne who was clear again. His lob over keeper Barbour was narrowly off target.

The second half began and Maud carried on from where they left off the first half.

Hale got the ball wide right and put a great cross into the Hive goal area where Jonathan Garden’s header should really have been into the net instead of across the goal where it was cleared by the grateful Hive defenders.

On 63 minutes another cross, this time from Morrice, found Mike Rae in the area but his header was saved.

A minute later Maud should have scored again when a break from midfield by Hale found Garden running in on goal, he then laid it across to the oncoming Luke Barbour but he lost control and the chance was gone.

Stonehaven were starting to assert themselves now that the wind was at their backs and only a great save by Barbour in the Maud goal prevented McIntosh from equalising.

Stonehaven were pushing more and more towards the Maud goal now and they finally cracked five minutes from time when a needless free kick 25 yards from goal was hit low by Horne, across Barbour and into the far corner for the equaliser.

So what started in a promising fashion for Maud in the first half, ended with them just about holding on for a point.

If they had scored any of the many chances they had, Stonehaven wouldn’t have been in the game but all those lost chances proved costly in the end.

Maud are going to have to drastically improve if they want to progress past Dyce in this week’s Grill Cup semi-final, which is at Dyce with a 2pm kick-off.

MAUD: J. Barbour, Bain, Simpson, Hall, Morrice, Reid, Alexander, Rae, Garden, L. Barbour, Hale. Subs: Mair, Duguid, Bremner, Robertson, Stott