Arbroath Vics headed north west across Angus to meet Kirrie Thistle in a McBookie.com North Division fixture at Westview Park on Saturday.
Manager Derek Lawson gave Colin McNaught his first start at the expense of Josh Chalmers who dropped to the bench, while there was a late promotion to the starting 11 for Scott Donald when Steve Florence injured his calf during the pre-match warm up.
Vics took the match to the home side aided by a fierce wind blowing diagonally across the pitch inside the opening minutes, but despite forcing a couple of corners failed to seriously test Scott Knox in goal.
With 10 minutes on the clock, Vics were awarded a penalty. Danny Ross burst forward into the Kirrie box but was upended before he could get his shot away and GRANT MOWATT netted the spot kick.
In the 18th minute, Vics found themselves down to 10 men when Ross was shown a straight red card for a petulant kick at the ankle of Stephen Duffy, which was spotted by the referee.
This gave Kirrie renewed hope and Alex Cargill was forced into his first real save in the 27th minute when he had to dive low to his left to push a long range effort from Kris Morrice round the post. From the flag-kick, Craig Sturrock sliced David Millar’s cross back towards his own goal, but Kevin Durno was on hand to clear inside the six-yard box.
The respite was only temporary for Kirrie as despite being a man down, Vics looked the more likely to add to the scoring with Mowatt lofting a shot over the bar after he had been picked out by Hester.
Donald sent Hester free on the right, but after cutting into the box, his shot was fairly comfortably dealt with by Knox; the ‘keeper diving to smother it on the six-yard line.
Colin McNaught twice breached the Kirrie rear-guard in the space of a minute, but on the first occasion Knox raced out of his box to kick clear before his second attempt drifted over the bar as the ‘keeper tried to narrow the angle.
Vics continued to put pressure on the Kirrie defence and only a fine save from Scott Knox, blocking away a close range effort from McNaught in the 43rd minute prevented Kirrie from going in two behind at the interval.
Half-time: Kirrie Thistle 0, Arbroath Vics 1.
Kirrie made a change at the start of the second half when Stewart Russell was sent on to replace Stuart Hill.
Mowatt almost gave Vics the perfect start when he met a clearance on the volley and fired the ball goalwards only to see Knox block it away with his knees on the line.
In the 48th minute it was 10 v 10 when Jack Dempster was red carded following a tackle on Jamie Thomson.
Hester was next to have a go for Vics with a surging run, which took him into the box, but his final shot was blocked for a corner by David Massie.
John Miller appeared to handle a Sturrock through ball on the edge of the box as Hester tried to reach it, but the referee waved away Vics’ appeals.
On the hour mark, Vics almost increased their lead in bizarre fashion when Knox took a fresh air swipe at a Millar pass back, but the ball held up long enough in the wind for the keeper to race back and kick it clear off the line.
When Kirrie did break forward they were awarded a corner, which Dale Riddell saw yellow for disputing and when Duffy’s cross came in, Marc Ogg’s header was cleared off the line at the near post by MacGregor.
Kirrie’s best move so far saw Ogg and Duffy work the ball forward to play Garry Muckersie into the box, but Cargill threw up a hand to turn his shot for a corner.
At the other end, Mowatt turned a corner back to Sturrock and when his cross was only partially cleared, the ball fell at the feet of Jamie Thomson who lobbed a shot just over the bar from 22 yards.
Both teams made changes midway through the half with Vics sending on Colin Lawson for McNaught and Kirrie replacing Duffy with Lewis Headridge.
Cargill kept Vics in front with a splendid save in the 73rd minute, diving low to his right to tip a Russell drive round the post after he had been played in by Ogg and Kris Morrice.
In the 75th minute, Hester looked to have got the better of Robbie George in a race for the ball only to be pushed in the back. The referee waved play on however and then booked the Vics striker for dissent as he got back to his feet. Before play resumed, Vics sent Matthew Swan on for Donald.
Within 60 seconds, Vics increased their lead. George completely missed a Thomson through ball and KANE HESTER was on to it in a flash to drive a shot into the back of the net beyond Knox.
Vics made their third change of the afternoon a couple of minutes later when Garry Warren came on for Mowatt.
The remaining minutes saw Vics rarely troubled and with four minutes left they extended their lead to 3-0. Hester crossed towards the far side of the box from the right and when Warren turned it back into the middle, MATTHEW SWAN arrived to steer a shot into the net from around 10 yards to complete the scoring.
Kirrie Thistle: Knox, Hill (Russell 46), Dempster, George, Miller, Massie, Morrice, Ogg, Millar, Duffy (Headridge 73), Muckersie. Unused subs: Barclay, Pennycook, Barclay.
Arbroath Vics: Cargill, MacGregor, Sturrock, Riddell, Durno, Donald (Swan 75), McNaught (Lawson 71), Ross, Thomson, Hester, Mowatt (Warren 78). Unused subs: Weir, Chalmers.
Referee: Mr. B. Fraser.
Vics are back at home tomorrow (Saturday) when they play host to Lochore Welfare in the league. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m.