Stonehaven Athletic 1
Dee Amateurs 3
Having been hammered by Dee Amateurs 8-0 the previous midweek, Stonehaven Athletic went into this AFC Trophy first round tie on Saturday against the same opponents determined not to allow a repeat of that scoreline.
although they eventually lost 3-1, Athletic can take great credit from the game.
With Bowron and MacLeod missing, Holtes and Ross lined up in central defence, with Cohen and Nicoll taking up the full back slots.
The early play was fairly even with neither side threatening the goal. This changed in 12 minutes when Cohen and Holtes got into a fankle and Cohen was adjudged to have brought down the Dee striker.
Masson stepped up for the visitors and cooly slotted past Middleton.
To their credit, Athletic did not let their heads go down and began to play some neat attacking football with Robb and MacKenzie prominent from midfield.
The visitors continued to look dangerous on the break and Holtes was booked for a needless challenge on the half hour mark.
Athletic finally got back on level terms just before half-time with an excellent strike. Good work by Robb and Nicoll set Reid clear and he lofted beautifully over the advancing keeper into the net from six yards.
Athletic started the second half where they left off and put Dee on the back foot but yet again they shot themselves in the foot by conceding a sloppy goal.
Dee were awarded a free kick out on the left and when the ball was swung in, indecision between Middleton and his defenders allowed Dee skipper Davidson to head home from six yards.
Worse was to follow for Athletic five minutes later when Holtes was harshly penalised for a challenge in the box and a penalty was awarded and Holtes shown a second yellow card, leaving Athletic with 10 men.
Masson again took the penalty for the visitors but this time Middleton pulled off a superb save and the ball was cleared.
Despite being a man down, Athletic continued to take the game to the visitors and Neish was unfortunate not to score after excellent work down the left.
With 15 minutes left the home side’s cause was not helped when Elliott also received a second caution leaving Athletic with only nine men.
With nothing to lose, Athletic threw on Fraser and King for Robb and Reid in search of an equaliser that would take the game to extra-time but in the final minute, they were caught on the break and the Dee striker netted from 12 yards.
Despite the final score, Athletic can take positives from this performance but similar effort will be required week in week out if they are to be in the promotion hunt come May next year.
Man of the match was Fraser Ross.
Stonehaven Athletic: Middleton, Cohen, Nicoll, Holtes, Ross, Elliott, Robb, MacKenzie, Neish, Reid, Irvine. Subs King, Fraser, Lawson, Coutts, Anderson.
League Results to date have been: Athletic 2 Glendale Youth 0; Torphins 2 Athletic 2; Dee Amateurs 2 Athletic 2; St Laurence 4 Athletic 0; Athletic 3 McTeagle 0; Athletic 0 Dee Amateurs 8.