Lossie got the new year off to a flyer with a win over Keith at Grant Park. An entertaining game from start to finish, Lossie survived an early scare to go into the interval two goals ahead before an own goal in the final minutes sealed the win.
The hosts took to the field with both Archibald brothers in the starting line-up, recent arrival Bryan Bell retained his place in the team, but Ross Duncan missed out due to suspension after being sent off all those weeks ago at Fraserburgh. Keith went into the game looking to keep up with Buckie Thistle and Turriff United at the top of the table and with ex-Coaster Darren Still in charge the Maroons are going to be tough opposition for most teams.
The hosts were playing their first game since late November and Keith looked to have taken advantage of any rustiness by getting off to a fast start. Indeed, the visitors were unlucky not to be a goal ahead in the first minute, denied by a goal-line clearance by Tony Ross, although those behind the goal may have a different opinion as to whether the ball crossed the line. Keith kept Lossie on the back foot, as first Dean Donaldson and then Cammy Keith brought saves out of Darren McConnachie.
Lossie improved as the half progressed and took the lead with ten minutes left. Tony Ross curled a superb cross into the box for Nikki SMITH to sidefoot past Shearer without breaking stride. Minutes later, Lossie doubled their lead. Amid appeals for a penalty following a goalmouth scramble, Ross ARCHIBALD controlled a pass from Charlesworth before rifling home a volley from inside the area.
The half ended with a couple of meaty challenges in midfield. Martin McMullan did well to avoid a second booking for a challenge, and soon after the midfielder found himself on the receiving end of a clumsy tackle from Garry McNamee which gave referee Martin Kerrigan the chance to flash the red card as the half drew to a close.
Half time – Lossiemouth 2 Keith 0
Keith were far from disheartened by the disadvantages facing them at the start of the second half and looked for a way back into the game. Lossie had the first chance of the half when Ross Archibald lashed a shot at Shearer which the keeper did well to save. Keith were appealing for a penalty soon after when Bell, making his home debut, tackled Cammy Keith but the referee waved play on.
Lossie kept Keith on the defensive for spells as they chased a third goal. Andy Shearer produced a sharp catch at his near post when saving a Bryan Bell header, and later Liam Archibald drew Shearer from his line before going around the experienced keeper and forcing the ball just wide of goal.
The closest Keith came in the second half was another goal-line clearance, but, despite earning 14 corners, the Maroons could not force the ball over the line to get themselves back into the game.
Lossie put a lid on the game in the final minute with a third goal. Stuart Strathdee sent a free kick low into the box towards the base of the near post, and a fine stop by Shearer prevented the ball from going in at the first attempt. Ross Archibald sent the rebound back across the face of goal and the unfortunate Stuart WALKER accidentally knocked the ball over the line from a yard out.
A third goal, particularly in the manner it was scored, was harsh on Keith given their performance with ten men, but it capped a fine afternoon for Lossie who are approaching the number of points earned last season with almost half of this seasons fixtures still to be played.
Full time – Lossiemouth 3 Keith 0
Lossiemouth – Darren McConnachie; Anthony Ross, Kevin Flett, Steven Sim, Bryan Bell, Martin McMullan, Colin Charlesworth (Jamie Bagley), Steven Ellis, Nikki Smith (Stuart Strathdee), Ross Archibald, Liam Archibald (Kevin Grant)
Keith – Andy Shearer; Jonathan Watt, Phil McCall, Stuart Walker, Garry Macnamee, Derek Nicol, Sean Keith, Wayne Mackay, Cammy Keith, Craig Phillips, Dean Donaldson (Craig McGovern)