Forfar West End 2, Arbroath Vics 1
Arbroath Vics were away to Forfar West End in their final away match in the McBookie.com North Division on Saturday.
Injuries and illness meant Vics were again short on numbers with Ross Kenny and Andy Cowan joining those unavailable on the sidelines, while Grant Mowatt was missing due to flu.
David McLeish came back into the starting line-up, having missed out through suspension the previous week, while Chris Simpson was promoted from the bench and trialist Kane Hester was given a starting place.
Forfar West End were still in with a chance of claiming the second promotion spot to the Premier Division and they very nearly caught Vics cold in the first minute. Scott Fullerton chased a deflected shot to the by-line and with Vics expecting it to go behind, he clipped it back into the middle where Matty Reynolds sent a header against the bar. The ball bounced around the penalty area for a few seconds before the pressure was relieved when it was fired over the bar.
The home side had made the much better start to the game forcing Vics deep into their own half and Lee Hutcheson was called into action in the seventh minute when Scott Fullerton fired in a low shot, but the keeper dealt with it comfortably enough.
West End then forced a succession of corners, before Vics were able to gain their breath when Gavin Tinley eventually lashed a shot high over the bar.
It was 15 minutes before Vics made any worthwhile inroads into the West End half when Mark Fotheringham helped a Craig Stephen throw-in across to Hester, but his shot was easily gathered by Cameron Johnstone in the home goal.
Hester then put Vics back on the front foot, breaking forward before playing in Craig Watson, but his shot on the run didn’t seriously trouble Johnstone who was able to save.
Midway through the half, Tinley played the ball down the left for Ross McDonald to send over a cross, which McLeish swept away from Liam Godfrey, but his clearance fell kindly for Mark Pirie who curled a shot just wide of the post from 18 yards.
At the other end, a good Vics move saw the ball eventually played back to Craig Sturrock who fired in a shot from distance, which Johnstone managed to hold.
A minute later, West End attacked with purpose down the right where Alistair Smith picked out Scott Fullerton on the “D” and his shot curled inches wide of Hutcheson’s left-hand post.
In the 30th minute, Matthew Ramsay played the ball up to McDonald on the overlap and he in turn sent it into the box for Pirie, but Hutcheson blocked his shot away with his legs, low down at the near post.
Watson then had a chance to give Vics the lead when he was sent through on goal by Hester, but Johnstone got his body behind the striker’s shot to block the ball away.
As half-time approached a skirmish on the Vics goal-line after Hutcheson had saved resulted in Vics being awarded a free kick and Pirie and Kevin Durno being yellow carded.
With 60 seconds of the half left, Vics were forced into a change when Steve Florence picked up a knock and had to leave the field. Colin Lawson came on as substitute and went into midfield, with Fotheringham dropping back to partner Durno.
In time added on for the change, West End very nearly got the opener. The chance came from a Scott Fullerton corner, which Smith fired goalwards, and when the ball reared up off the turf, it seemed destined for the top corner until Hutcheson threw himself across his line to make a great save by tipping it over the bar.
Half-time: Forfar West End 0, Arbroath Vics 0.
Vics were first out of the blocks after the interval with Simpson finding Abdourahman Njie who helped the ball on got Watson to crash in a shot, which Johnstone managed to turn round the post.
The goal was only delayed for a further minute when Vics opened the scoring. Hester twisted one way, then another, leaving two West End defenders in his wake on a run down the left before setting up WATSON who drilled a low shot in at the near post.
West End replied by winning a free kick just a few yards outside the box, when Simpson was harshly penalised, but Pirie was unable to make anything of the award, blasting the ball straight into the ‘wall’.
The home side made a change in the 53rd minute when Fullerton was replaced by Darren Scott.
Vics were inches away from increasing their lead two minutes later when McLeish played the ball up to Hester who rolled it into the path of Watson and his shot crashed back off the inside off the post, and as luck would have it ran straight into the prostrate arms of Johnstone lying on the ground.
Three minutes later, West End were back on level terms from the penalty spot. Reynolds burst into the box where he was upended by Fotheringham, who was booked for the trip. SCOTT took the kick and his shot found the back of the net off the body of Hutcheson.
Hester found his name in the referee’s book for one foul too many for the whistler’s liking before West End took the lead in the 66th minute. Ramsay sent over a corner and player/manager, DARYL McKENZIE charged in to bullet a header into the roof of the net.
Within a minute of the re-start, Sturrock picked up a booking for lunging tackle on Alistair Smith right in front of the West End dug-out, which resulted in a shoving match between several players before the referee restored order.
Vics came close to getting back on level terms a few minutes later when a Sturrock free kick was only partially cleared and when Durno returned it into the box, Hester sent in a snap-shot, which Johnstone threw himself across to push for a corner.
Both teams made further changes with West End sending on Neil Docherty for Pirie in the 76th and then Mark McDonald for Reynolds in the 80th minute; a switch which saw Vics replace Simpson with Garry Warren at the same time.
Tinley thought he had secured the points for West End when Hutcheson raced way out of his box to win a tackle in midfield and the ball landed at his feet. He immediately fired it back towards the open goal from 40 yards and turned to celebrate as it dropped under the bar, but he hadn’t seen Fotheringham race back to chest it off the line.
In another break from a Vics’ corner, Hutcheson made a double save to deny Neil Docherty and McDonald from getting the goal that would have given West End some breathing space.
With a minute left, a timely intervention from McKenzie prevented a through ball from reaching Watson and putting him through one-on-one with Johnstone.
Lawson became the fifth Vics’ player to see yellow as the match entered stoppage time, and West End saw out the additional minutes by running the ball into the corners to preserve their slender lead.
Vics did well to get to the break on level terms, before taking the lead early in the second-half. Had Watson’s shot gone in off the post instead rebounding back to the ‘keeper the match might have had a different outcome, but West End fought back to claim the win and move into second place on goal difference above Kennoway Star Hearts and Blairgowrie with a game in hand over both of them.
Forfar West End: Johnstone, Smith, McDonald, McKenzie, Ramsay, Robertson, Fullerton (Scott 53), Tinley, Pirie (Docherty 76), Godfrey, Reynolds (McDonald 80). Unused subs: Crichton and Wilson.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, Stephen, Sturrock, McLeish, Durno, Florence (Lawson 44), Hester, Fotheringham, Watson, Njie, Simpson (Warren 80). Unused sub: Johnston.
Referee: Mr. R. Milne.
Vics bring their season to a close with a home match against Blairgowrie in the league on Saturday. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m.
Winners for the last two weeks were: £10 – No. 41, Jake McWalter; £10 – No. 66, Dick Howe; £5 – No. 133, Bob Smith; £5 – No. 141, Willie Kiddie.
McBookie.com East North League
P W D L F A Pts
Dundee NE 30 24 4 2 113 33 76
Forfar WE 27 17 2 8 79 41 53
Star Hearts 28 17 2 9 85 50 53
Blairgowrie 28 17 2 9 73 43 53
Newburgh 25 14 7 4 81 40 49
Downfield 24 14 5 5 53 34 47
Luncarty 24 14 1 9 72 45 43
Thornton Hibs 24 12 3 9 73 51 39
Arbroath Vics 29 11 5 13 68 74 38
Lochore Welfare 25 11 4 10 49 55 37
Scone Thistle 27 11 3 13 58 71 36
East Craigie 26 11 2 13 59 44 35
Brechin Vics 28 7 3 18 31 62 24
Lochee Harp 28 5 5 18 55 80 20
Forfar Albion 30 4 0 26 37 133 12
Coupar Angus 23 0 0 23 12 142 0