Mearns clinch promotion

GOING up. Mearns United celebrate promotion after beating Rattray's on Saturday.
GOING up. Mearns United celebrate promotion after beating Rattray's on Saturday.

Mearns United 5 Rattray’s X1 4

MEARNS United are heading for the Premier Division.

Mearns, made up of Stonehaven-based players, but who play their home games at Fettercairn, secured their third successive promotion since joining the Aberdeenshire Amateur League with a 5-4 home victory over Rattray’s X1 on Saturday.

Mearns went into the game knowing that three points would give them promotion, regardless of results elsewhere and leave them as hot favourites to secure the Division One North title.

Mearns currently have four players on the injured list, who won’t play again this season, so it is remarkable that they have come through a punishing three games a week schedule in the past month to leave themselves on the brink of becoming champions.

It all went wrong for Mearns in the first half against a battle-hardened Rattray’s who came down from the Premier Division last season.

Rattray’s took the lead with a shot from out on the right, then they made it 2-0 when the Mearns defence backed off an attacker as he ran through the middle and he scored from 20 yards.

Two-nil down at the break, Mearns needed to raise their game and they did just that when Stevie Law beat a man on the right and cut inside to score.

Mearns were back on level terms when a Rob Armstrong corner was headed home by Ross Donald.

Rattray’s went back in front when a cross was headed home on the back post, then the Mearns prospects looked dim when a mix-up left a Rattray’s player with an empty net for 4-2.

Andy Beel was sent off for two bookings, but Mearns switched to three at the back and took the game to their opponents.

Mearns were back to within a goal when a Fraser Ross cross was headed into the roof of the net by Stuart Grant.

With 76 minutes on the watch, the ten men were level. Richard Fotheringham sent a free-kick from the left curling towards goal and the ball ended up in the net with Andrew Scott claiming he had got a touch.

Mearns knew that only a win would do and with the tension cranked up to fever pitch they won the game with five minutes left. Armstrong sent in a corner and Donald headed home before being submerged by his jubilant team mates.

The final few minutes, plus a period of stoppage-time were negotiated leaving Mearns celebrating at the final whistle.

Mearns are now joint top with Great Western United who are finished their season. By the time you read this they may already be champions as they were due to play away to Insch last night (Wednesday) looking for a point to wrap up the title.

Their final game is at home to Great Western United next Wednesday.

Mearns suffered some promotion jitters when they lost 2-1 away to Rattray’s last Wednesday.

With the injury list lengthy, they allowed themselves to be bullied by a tough Rattray’s.

Mearns took the lead in 65 minutes. The keeper failed to hold a long throw from Grant and Rob Armstrong curled the ball into the net.

A win would have seen Mearns promoted, but with nine minutes to go, an 18 yard shot was fumbled by keeper Chris Black and the scores were level.

Straight from the restart Rattray’s attacked again and made it 2-1.

Despite being beaten, Mearns left the field to learn that Great Western had lost, leaving them needing three points for promotion and four for the title.