Echt fielded five players making their competitive debut for the club in their starting eleven, and a sixth on the bench for what was always going to be a stern test despite home advantage,against a Sportsmans side who finished in third place in the Premier table last season.
The new faces were Gordon Kessack in goal, Greg Harris in central defence,Stewart McLaren in midfield and Philip Craig a frontrunner, all recruited from Amateur outfit Bon Accord City also starting was Derek Yeats from Dyce Juniors with Darren Stewart previously with Grammar FP’s on the bench alongside ‘elder statemen’ Jocky Lawrence and Vic Roger.
Marc Lawrence fired high over from range inside a minute with Echt playing upslope. Sportmans grabbed an early advantage with the opener in 6mins,a right side corner awarded despite Echt’s protests to the contrary was delivered across the Echt 6yd box by Ewen and LEE McKENZIE was afforded a free header for 0-1.
Echt threatened in 11 minutes when Paul Presslie laid a ball inside to Phil Craig but his strike was blocked by a defender in close attendance. McKenzie then fired a loose central position effort over Kessack’s crossbar in 14 minutes but a minute later it was he who curled a dangerously delivered free kick strike from just outside the Echt box that had Kessack diving full length to prevent it finding the net low inside his right hand post. GARY McNAMARA reacted as the ball came back out and hammered it into the roof of the Echt net to give his side a two goal advantage.
As Echt hit back the lively Craig set up a shooting opportunity for McLaren but the midfielder failed to get power on his drive and keeper Lawson gathered easily.
Sportmans left fullback Fleming hit a speculative long range strike on target in 20 minutes which had Kessack back in action. The visitors always looked the more likely to add to their advantage with Echt looking decidedly
vulnerable at any dead ball situations and twice around the 38th minute mark Sportmans central defender Buchanan was allowed free headers on corner kicks that were blocked on the Echt goal-line.
With half time approaching Paul Presslie gained possession from a bit of casual defending, advanced left side and laid the perfect ball into the path of fellow frontman Craig whose strike rattled the face of Lawson’s right hand post and back into play, whilst Sportsmans broke downfield and some trickery from Smith set up McKay who should of at least found target but blazed over,
The opening minutes of the second half were fairly even with little in the way of goalmouth action and Echt made a double substitution in 53 minutes, withdrawing Andy Davidson and Yeats whilst Stewart and J Lawrence came on.
Sportmans squandered another opportunity to add to their tally in 59 minutes when McNamara scooped an effort over Kessack, who had denied Smith with a block save, but also over the crossbar.
Echt reduced the deficit a minute later when a M Lawrence right touchline, halfway line,’free’ found the head of Stuart Cooper at the back post and he invitingly headed across the face of goals for PHILIP CRAIG to hook into the roof of the net.
Echt joy was however short lived as the visitors stepped up a gear and Kessack did well to block a netbound effort from the ever dangerous McKenzie and seconds later Law lifted a high cross across the Echt goal for GARY McNAMARA to loop a header over the helpless keeper for his own second and Sportsmans third goal a mere 90 seconds after Craig’s goal had handed Echt a lifeline.
Referee K Taylor kept a tight grip on proceedings with bookings for players from both sides. Echt’s Ryan Robertson limped out of the action with 15 minutes left with V Roger coming on.
McKenzie twice came close to adding to Echt’s woes but on both occasions fired wide of target.
A Jocky Lawrence cross from the left looked odds on to find son Marc in a goalscoring position but a last ditch interception nipped the chance in the bud.
A late Cooper netbound effort was also blocked but despite Echt’s best late efforts Sportsmans deservedly claimed the three points.
ECHT; Kessack, Daun, Robertson, Harris, Cooper, McLaren, Yeats, A. Davidson, Presslie, Craig, M Lawrence
SUBS; Stewart, J Lawrence, Roger