Ross Allum did not make many friends during his brief trip to Inverurie but the Edinburgh City talisman certainly ensured he will not be forgotten in a hurry.
Vilified after being accused of simulation in the first period, booked for taunting the Cove Rangers supporters and a constant voice in the ear of opposition defenders and officials alike, the City striker is the archetypal nuisance centre-forward.
More than that, however, it has become increasingly clear in the past two seasons that Allum is one of the most effective goal-scorers outside the SPFL. And, on the basis of this display, he might just be the man to fire them into League Two.
The 27-year-old produced a man-of-the-match display against the Highland League champions, opening the scoring with a clinical header before turning the defence inside out and lashing home a right-footed drive on the stroke of half time.
Between Allum’s brace, Gordon Donaldson converted a fine cross from on-loan Hibernian defender Aaron Dunsmore to secure a remarkable away win.
It will take an almighty collapse for City – aiming to give Edinburgh a third side in the league system for the first time since Meadowbank Thistle folded in 1994 – to throw away their handsome advantage at home next weekend. East Stirlingshire, and SPFL football, are firmly within their sights.
“Ross Allum does a really difficult job. He gets battered about by centre-backs, gets knocked over – then gets slated for diving,” said City boss Gary Jardine. “But he always goes back for more. What a season he is having.
“He feeds off the criticism. So the more knocks and pelters he gets from the crowd, the better. The more deadly he becomes.”
Jardine’s men claimed the lead midway through the first half when a super free-kick from captain Dougie Gair found Allum, who sent a header beyond Stuart McKenzie.
Coming mere minutes after referee Gavin Ross had waved away his claims for a penalty, to say he was an unpopular goalscorer would be an understatement. An impudent finger to the lips did nothing to assuage that.
City doubled their lead with a sensational counter-attack culminating in one wing-back, Dunmore, crossing for another, Donaldson, to fire low into the net.
It was game over on the stroke of half-time when Allum burst into the box, shook off the attention of Eric Watson and fizzed a low shot into the corner of the net for his 28th of the season.
His dash towards the home fans earned a booking. He will not be holidaying in Aberdeenshire any time soon.
Cove boss John Sheran said: “We’ve got no one to blame but ourselves, but there is still 90 minutes to play and we’ll go to Edinburgh with all guns blazing.”