ARBROATH Vics made the trip down the A92 to meet title favourites Dundee North End in a league fixture on Saturday.
Manager Jake Ferrier made two changes to the side that beat Kirrie Thistle the previous week, with Kevin Durno and Craig Stephen both returning to the starting 11 at the expense of Matty Johnston and Kevin Steele, who both dropped down to the bench.
North End made a strong start, pushing Vics back into their own half without really troubling Lee Hutcheson, but they had a scare in the third minute when goalkeeper, Mark Fotheringham dropped a David McLeish cross inside his own six-yard area when challenged by Ryan Owbridge and was grateful to see Darryl Gowans boot it away to safety.
A couple of minutes later, a George Grier pass breached Vics’ defence, allowing Ryan Duncan to race in on goal and it needed a fine save from Lee Hutcheson, spreading himself to block the shot, to prevent North End from taking the lead.
The same player had another chance soon after when Scott McComiskie chased a long ball from Gowans to the corner flag, where he pulled it back for Chris Glennie to whip over a cross, which found Ryan Duncan unmarked, but fortunately for Vics, he directed his header over the bar.
A misplaced pass by North End full-back, Mark Kelly was intercepted by Craig Stephen who quickly sent the ball through the defence for Owbridge to chase, but keeper, Mark Fotheringham was quickly out of his area to kick clear.
In the 13th minute a tremendous save from Hutcheson prevented North End from taking the lead. Ryan Duncan got on the end of a McComiskie cross to power a header down towards the left-hand post of Hutcheson, but the ‘keeper somehow threw himself across his line to get a touch and divert what looked like a certain goal behind for a corner.
McComiskie was then given time and space to run at Vics’ defence before firing in a drive, which Hutcheson blocked before gathering at the second attempt.
At the other end, good play from Craig Stephen allowed him to cut in from the right and fire off a shot from just inside the box, which took a deflection allowing ‘keeper Fotheringham to gather the ball off the toes of Vics’ midfielder Fotheringham, who tried to get on the end of it.
A goal kick from Fotheringham was then allowed to run all the way through Vics’ defence for Duncan, but again Hutcheson was equal to the task getting his body behind the shot to block. The loose ball was quickly returned into the box, but McComiskie failed to capitalise, turning the cross behind at the back post.
Vics almost got their noses in front midway through the half when Fotheringham released Owbridge who burst through the North End defence, but goalkeeper, Fotheringham stood tall to beat away his shot.
The deadlock was broken in the 30th minute, and it was North End who made the vital breakthrough. Fotheringham was penalised for a foul on Duncan, which led to the North End player having to be helped off when the Vics’ number eight fell on top of him. McComiskie fired in the free kick, which Lee Hutcheson failed to hold and the ball broke into the path of Grier who should have scored, but from close range he crashed a shot off the underside of the bar. Vics managed to scramble the ball off the line, but couldn’t get it cleared out of the area and McNAUGHTON followed up to fire it into the back of the net.
With Duncan unable to continue, his place was taken by Marc Percy a couple of minutes after the re-start.
Vics tried to get back into the game before the interval, but the nearest they came was when Garry Warren cut in from the left to get off a shot, but it ran across the face of goal and wide without troubling the keeper.
Half-time: Dundee North End 1 Arbroath Vics 0
The first half began in similar fashion to the way the first had ended with Warren setting off on a solo run towards the North End box, but again his shot was well wide of the intended target.
A long throw-in from Gray nearly paid off for Vics two minutes later when Owbridge nodded the ball on allowing Fotheringham to get in a shot, which his namesake in the North End goal managed to save on the line.
North End replied with Mark Kelly curling in a dangerous cross, which Hutcheson was unable to hold on to, but he managed to dive and block the loose ball at the feet of McComiskie who tried to capitalise on the ‘keeper’s error.
Hutcheson was again called into action when the same North End pair teamed up again 60 seconds later; the keeper having to dive and save at McComiskie’s feet after Kelly had delivered the ball through the Vics’ defence for him to run on to.
Vics thought they had equalised in the 64th minute when McLeish sent Owbridge away inside the North End half where he pulled the ball back for Gray inside the box. His shot was charged down by Fotheringham, but as it came back out, Owbridge, Gray and a North End defender all converged on the ball and it ended up in the net, but the “goal” was chalked off and a free kick was awarded to North End inside the six-yard box, the referee indicating that Owbridge had pushed his opponent.
Soon after, Vics made a change when Scott McDowell was withdrawn and replaced by Kevin Steele.
Despite that, North End doubled their lead in the 73rd minute. A fine move down the left hand side opened Vics up and when the ball was played back across the box, a step-over allowed it to run through for McCOMISKIE who drilled a low shot beyond Hutcheson from 15 yards.
Four minutes later, Vics replaced Owbridge and Warren with Danny McKenzie and Colin Lawson, while at the same time North End sent on Martin Flynn for Chris Glennie.
Vics tried in vain to pull a goal back, but the nearest they came was in the 82nd minute when Colin Lawson slipped in Gray, but his shot on the turn cleared the bar.
The final chance of the match fell North End’s way when they were awarded a free kick just outside the box and Percy’s shot, which turned out to be the last kick of the match, went inches wide of the post, but it mattered little as the home side had wrapped up the three points to consolidate their lead at the top of the table.
Dundee North End: Fotheringham, Kelly, Stewart, Thomson, Gowans, Hutchison, Glennie (Flynn 77), Grier, Duncan (Percy 32), McNaughton, McComiskie. Unused substitutes: Nicol, and Cochrane.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish, Florence, Gray, Durno, Sturrock, McDowell (Steele 65), Fotheringham, Owbridge (McKenzie 77), Warren (Lawson 77), Stephen. Unused substitutes: Laing, Johnston and Cargill.
Referee: Mr. K. Graham (Perth).
VICS are back on home soil tomorrow (Saturday) when East Craigie are the visitors to Ogilvy Park in the first round of the East of Scotland Cup.
This week’s winners were: £10 – No. 145, Vikki Cameron; £5 – No. 39, Kevin Laing.