Arbroath Vics 2, Brechin Vics 0
Having been without a competitive fixture for a fortnight, Arbroath Vics at last got back into league action with a home match against Brechin Vics in the McBookie.com North Division on Saturday.
Despite the morning having bean clear, rain returned just before kick-off making the already heavy surface even more so, while a strong wind blowing towards the St Vigeans end of the ground made conditions even trickier.
Arbroath won the toss and elected to play with the wind in their favour, but it was Brechin who were first to create an opening when Craig Sturrock gave the ball away just inside his own half.
Sean Mustard seized upon his pass and sent Martin Strachan away, but a well timed tackle from Matty Johnston prevented him from getting to within shooting range and Steve Florence mopped up the loose ball by playing it back for Lee Hutcheson to kick clear.
At the other end, Garry Warren sent a crossfield pass into the path of Grant Mowatt who scooped the ball high into the Brechin box where Ross Kenny got in a header, but it dropped wide without troubling Jamie Robbie in the Brechin goal.
Three minutes later, Abdourahman Njie robbed Chris Eaton after he dallied on a throw out from Robbie, with the ball eventually finding the feet of Mowatt whose shot was blocked away for a corner.
Soon after, Craig Stephen whipped over a dangerous cross from the right touchline, which Steven Eaton was forced to head behind for a corner at the far post.
It was Arbroath who were doing most of the running and when the Brechin defence failed to deal properly with a Sturrock cross, the ball came back out to Kenny, but he didn’t connect well and his shot was easily gathered by Robbie.
Stephen was finding plenty room out on the right and yet another dangerous cross into the Brechin area had to be dealt with; this time Ewan Cairney heading clear.
Despite Arbroath having most of the possession, it was Brechin who came closest to scoring in the 23rd minute. A Martin Strachan free kick from the right carried over to the far side of the box, where Sean Whitworth powered in a shot, which Hutcheson did well to block away on the line.
Arbroath responded with Njie flicking a Mowatt pass into the box for Kenny but he saw his shot blocked by Robbie, with the ‘keeper getting quickly back to his feet to block the striker’s follow up with the help of a defender.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 38th minute, and it was Arbroath who made the breakthrough. Matty Johnston hoisted a free-kick into the box, which Robbie punched clear, but when the ball was returned into the area, Warren drilled it across the face of goal where ROSS KENNY turned it in from close range at the back post.
Arbroath might have doubled their advantage a minute later when Colin Lawson sent the ball forward to Njie who played it into the box for Warren, but his prodded shot was kept out by Robbie.
As half-time approached, S. Eaton was yellow carded for talking out of turn after he had conceded a free kick.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 1, Brechin Vics 0.
With the wind in their favour, Brechin had a great chance to level the game a minute after the re-start. Robbie sent a huge clearance up field which was missed by Johnston, allowing Lewis Dunn to set up Whitworth but he was sent crashing by Sturrock almost on the 18-yard line before he could get away his shot. Bang in front of goal, Lewis Dunn took the resultant free kick, which never left the ground, but it skipped below the defensive “wall” and it required Hutcheson to make a good save on the line, having presumably seen it late.
Lewis Dunn came even closer in the 53rd minute with a curling effort which beat Hutcheson but flew just wide of the ‘keeper’s right-hand post.
On the hour mark, Brechin made a change when Blair Stephen was replaced by Callum Bayfield.
Arbroath carved out a chance a minute later, when the ever willing Njie made space to turn the ball back into the path of Mark Fotheringham, but his 20-yard shot went well wide of the target.
A trio of substitutions then broke up play with Arbroath sending Craig Watson on for Lawson and then David McLeish replacing Kenny, before Brechin introduced Matthew Henderson for Whitworth.
Once play resumed, Warren got on the end of a Stephen cross but his header caused little problem for Robbie; the ‘keeper comfortably plucking the ball out of the air.
Arbroath made a further change when Chris Simpson came on for Mark Fotheringham in the 73rd minute.
The home side forced four corners in succession, all taken by Warren as they went in search of the second goal, but the Brechin defence held firm before eventually clearing their lines.
With 10 minutes remaining, Brechin made their third change of the afternoon when Adam Renilson came on for Dunn, before Warren was booked for a late challenge on C. Eaton.
Hutcheson caused a moment of anxiety in the Arbroath ranks when he fumbled a high looping cross from S. Eaton as Paul Ross tried to get on the end of it, but he did enough to knock it away from the number four before diving to claim it on the ground.
Arbroath were looking the more likely to add to the scoring however and Mowatt almost provided it when he pulled down a Stephen cross and scooped a shot just wide.
The points were eventually secured in the 86th minute when Warren played a neat pass through the Brechin defence and CRAIG WATSON ran onto it before steering a shot just inside the far post as Robbie came out to narrow the angle.
The Arbroath side restricted Brechin to few chances during the match and although it took late into the game before the points were secured, the 2-0 score line was a fair reflection on the pattern of play.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, Stephen, Sturrock, Lawson (Watson 65), Johnston, Florence, Mowatt, Fotheringham (Simpson 73), Kenny (McLeish 66), Njie, Warren. Unused subs: McWalter, Durno and Whitton GK.
Brechin Vics: Robbie, Eaton, Eaton, Ross, Cairney, Stephen (Bayfield 60), McKay, Mustard, Dunn (Renilson 80), Whitworth (Henderson 67), Strachan. Unused subs: Smith and Reekie GK.
Referee: Mr G. Soutar (Montrose).
Vics travel into Fife tomorrow (Saturday) to meet Lochore Welfare in the league. Kick-off is at 2.15 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 11.45 a.m.
Winners this week were: £10 – No. 50, Jim Mowatt; £5 – No. 14, Steve Florence.
This week’s draw made by former player, Billy Sturrock.
McBookie.com East North League
P W D L F A Pts
Dundee NE 22 16 4 2 87 26 52
Star Hearts 18 12 1 5 67 33 37
Luncarty 19 12 1 6 61 36 37
Newburgh 17 10 5 2 60 26 35
Blairgowrie 18 11 1 6 56 29 34
Scone Thistle 20 9 2 9 46 56 29
Downfield 15 8 4 3 33 24 28
Forfar WE 17 8 2 7 42 32 26
East Craigie 19 8 1 10 49 37 25
Arbroath Vics 19 7 4 8 44 52 25
Lochore 16 7 3 6 34 36 24
Thornton Hibs 16 7 2 7 50 37 23
Lochee Harp 18 5 2 11 40 51 17
Brechin Vics 18 4 2 12 18 43 14
Forfar Albion 21 4 0 17 28 97 12
Coupar Angus 17 0 0 17 10 110 0