HAVING been inactive since December 3, Arbroath Vics got the New Year under way with a league match away to Kirrie Thistle on Saturday.
Included in a much depleted pool were new signings, Danny Smith from Forfar Albion and Liam Campbell from English non-league outfit Watton United.
The home side took the game to Vics from the off and within three minutes had their noses in front. A speculative cross from Gary Archibald, out wide on the left touchline, deceived Chris Cargill and struck the inside of the far post, bouncing back towards the opposite upright where ROSS SIEVWRIGHT bundled it over the line.
Vics had a huge let off a minute later when Cargill could only partially block an Archibald shot and Stuart Russell followed up to net the rebound, but the referee deemed him to be in an offside position and the ‘goal’ was disallowed.
Vics hadn’t got out of the blocks in the early stages and another good move from Kirrie ended with Stuart Russell stretching out a leg to turn a Ross Sievwright shot just wide of the post.
It took Vics 10 minutes to make any inroads towards the Kirrie box when David McLeish picked out Garry Warren whose shot deflected across the box to Liam Campbell. The new signing failed to get much purchase on his shot however, and Chris Hutchison was able to punch it away.
In the 17th minute, Kevin Laing sent the ball in towards Craig Watson from the left and the striker gathered it in on the 18 yard line before turning and firing off a shot, which went straight into the body of Hutchison.
A minute later, Vics spurned a glorious chance to get back on level terms. Campbell made ground down the left before sending a cross to the far side of the box towards Warren. He cut the ball back across the six-yard box, but with the goal at his mercy, Watson blazed his shot over the bar.
Kirrie were still a danger when they got forward and only a timely intervention from Danny Smith, knocking a Sievwright cross behind for a corner, prevented Stuart Russell from getting on the end of it.
In the 33rd minute, Kirrie doubled their lead. Vics struggled to deal with a Shaun Taylor throw-in, which landed in the box and Cargill was penalised for pushing Sievwright as he came to claim it resulting in a penalty. SIEVWRIGHT took the kick himself and scored, sending Cargill the wrong way.
Vics began to realise they were in a game and had a good spell until the half ended with Watson having three chances to reduce the deficit.
The first came in the 36th minute when McLeish pulled a Chris Simpson through ball back from the by-line and Watson’s shot just cleared the crossbar.
The next two came inside the last few minutes but on both occasions, he was denied by fine saves by ex-Vics’ ‘keeper, Hutchison who got down smartly blocking away the first with his hands and the second with his feet.
Half-time: Kirrie Thistle 2, Arbroath Vics 0.
There were signs at the end of the first period that Vics just might be up for overturning the two-goal deficit, but within a couple of minutes of the re-start, it was effectively game over when Kirrie scored a third. Mark Kohler dinked a cross into the box and RUSSELL got his head to it to send a header looping in at the far post.
Vics made a change 10 minutes into the half when Craig Stephen came on for Laing as Vics opted for a more attacking formation.
In the 60th minute, Warren picked up a McLeish through ball and advanced up the right before switching play to the opposite side, but Liam Campbell coming into the box sent his shot high and wide.
Three minutes later, Vics found themselves 4-0 down. Smith sent the ball out wide on the right to Taylor whose cross picked out RUSSELL who bagged his second goal of the afternoon at the second attempt after his initial shot had been blocked.
Russell might have had a hat-trick a minute later when he was set up by Sievwright who broke through Vics’ defence, but he hurried his shot and sent it over the bar.
Midway through the half, Kirrie made a double substitution replacing Kohler and Smith with Mark Ogg and David Millar.
Smith then had to look alert, heading a Robbie Black free kick behind his own goal as it threatened to sneak in at the back post.
In a rare Vics’ attack, Sturrock broke forward finding Fotheringham who headed on for Watson to fire in a shot from distance, but it was comfortably held by Hutchison.
Sievwright was next to have a go for Kirrie, sweeping a curling shot just wide of the post from around the penalty spot after Millar had supplied the cross. The home side made a further change when Steven Barclay came on for Russell.
Vics almost grabbed a consolation goal in the 79th minute when Hutchison fumbled a Campbell corner at his near post, but after a frantic scramble on the line, Kirrie came away with their goal intact as Vics couldn’t force the ball over before it was cleared.
Having gone 80 minutes without producing a card, referee Willie Ferguson was forced to show yellow to Sievwright for a nasty challenge on McLeish who was also booked for reacting angrily to it.
The last 10 minutes petered out with the nearest to a goal coming from Sturrock who stabbed a shot wide following a poor punch from Hutchison.
Having waited since early December to get a match under way, Vics couldn’t have got 2012 off to a much poorer start. Although they did have chances in the first half, overall Kirrie were the better side and were well worthy of their win.
Kirrie Thistle: Hutchison, Smith, Black, Gorman, Farquharson, Taylor, Smith (Millar 68), Archibald, Kohler (Ogg 68), Russell (Barclay 77), Sievwright. Unused subs: McKenna, Scott, Kettles and Robertson.
Arbroath Vics: Cargill, McLeish, Laing (Stephen 55), Gray, Smith, Sturrock, Campbell, Fotheringham, Watson, Simpson, Warren. Unused sub: Duncan, gk
Referee: Mr. W. Ferguson, Forfar.
Vics are again out of town tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel to Dundee to meet East Craigie. Kick-off is at 1.45 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12 noon.
Winners this week were: £10 - No. 4, Colin Lawson; £5 – No. 73, Sylvia Rattray.