Newly promoted Portlethen Utd and Echt served up a ninety minute, all action six goal thriller in the last of the early season night fixtures.
Although Echt will almost certainly point to a second half comeback after trailing 3-1 at the interval and also being denied twice by the woodwork during the second period, the homesters went into this one already four points ahead of their visitors with a game less played and throughout the match posted ample notice that they have little intention of being one season wonders in the amateur top flight.
Portlethen took the game to Echt from the off and went in front with an 8th minute opener.
Echt responded well to this early setback and home keeper Murphy made good diving stops, from first Greg Kane and then Phil Craig at the expense of what were subsequently turned out to be fruitless flag kicks.
However in 15 minutes, from yet another corner kick, Alan Douglas’s delivery was powerfully headed downwards by Scott Aberdein and squirmed over the goal line to level, despite Murphy getting a good touch on it.
Greg Harris and Aberdein both conceded free kicks on the edge of the Echt box in quick succession which saw them yellow carded. S Mathieson’s, from the first, brought out a good stop from Gordon Kessack. From the second, M Mathieson fired a piledriver narrowly over.
In 23 minutes goalscorer Aberdein had to be replaced by Alan Daun.
Portlethen hit Echt with a two quickfire strikes in 26 and 27 minutes to leave Echt with a lot to do.
There was then a lengthy stoppage with Referee Henderson requiring a lengthy spell of onfield treatment before the game proceeded.
Echt finished the half strongly but up to the break unable to capitalise and reduce the deficit.
Echt piled on the pressure second half and laid siege on the home goal but the Portlethen defence stood firm.
Douglas came closest in 61 minutes looping a header just over from a long high ball delivery from Chris Collie.
Murphy was forced to dive full length to push a near 30yd Douglas drive wide in 67 minutes.
Before the corner kick was taken Paul Presslie came on and Joe Kirton was withdrawn.
Presslie finally hauled Echt back into contention from the penalty spot in 71 minutes after a hand was used to prevent the penalty taker possession on a Douglas through ball.
Echt were twice denied by the woodwork with time ebbing away and the homesters had not abandoned adding to their tally in one or two dangerous breaks towards Kessack.
Stewart McLaren netted a last ditch equaliser when close in he headed a Collie cross past the despairing Murphy.
ECHT: Kessack, Collie, Douglas, Harris, Aberdein, McLaren, Cooper, Kirton, Kane, Craig, MacLeod. SUBS: Daun, Presslie, Lawrence, A Davidson, Birse.