Arbroath go into Saturday’s game of the season against Forfar Athletic knowing a victory will see them top of the table for the first time this season.
The Lichities kept up the pressure on their Angus rivals after hitting third place Annan Athletic for five in a dramatic battle on Saturday.
Jim Chapman’s side had won seven of their last nine matches and were only six points behind the Litchies, so knew that a win would throw them into the title race.
However within 40 seconds their game plan was thrown out of the window. Defender Steven Swinglehurst lunged at Arbroath’s Ryan McCord with a high, late tackle leaving Craig Charleston no choice but to send the him for a very early shower.
McCord stepped up to take the free kick just outside of the 18 yardd to box and curled a low shot past home keeper Blair Currie to give Arbroath the lead in the second minute.
However Annan Athletic showed great character and made it clear they weren’t going to just sit back and defend. Winger Nathan Flanagan raced down the left wing before cutting back to ex-Lichtie Darren Ramsay whose shot was parried by keeper Ricky Gomes allowing veteran striker Peter Weatherson to net from 4 yards.
In the 24th minute the 10 men stunned the Lichties as defender Jordan Stewart met a Flanagan corner to flick a header into the far corner of the net.
The Lichties started to press higher up the pitch and took advantage when scorer Ryan McCord turned provider when his corner kick was emphatically headed into the back of the net by Steven Doris in the 40th minute.
In the 60th minute Steven Doris netted his second goal as he connected to a cross at the back post from Ricky Little to head past Currie.
The chances kept coming and it was experienced striker Bryan Prunty who netted Arbroath’s 4th in the 74th minute as he slotted home from eight yards after Linn curled in a teasing ball.
Arbroath’s victory was sealed as Steven Doris secured an impressive hat trick. Substitute Eddie Ferns glided a ball into the box and Doris simply flicked the ball past Currie in the 92nd minute.