Arbroath Vics 3, Luncarty 2
Arbroath Vics were back at home on Saturday when they played host to Luncarty in a North Division league fixture.
Having hit six past Coupar Angus the previous week, Vics knew they would face a sterner test against a side still with an eye on one of the promotion places.
Lee Hutcheson made a return in goal, having been given the all clear following concussion, while other changes saw Craig Sturrock, Kevin Durno, Abdourahman Njie, David McLeish and Garry Warren all return to the starting line-up.
Suspension ruled out Mark Fotheringham, while Chris Simpson was unavailable and Andy Cowan was suffering from whiplash following a road accident en route to training in midweek.
The visiting side were first to threaten when Niall Cassidy sent the ball into the box looking for David Fyfe, but the referee was unimpressed as he went to ground when Sturrock put in a challenge.
A solo run from inside his own half saw Warren carry the ball deep into Luncarty territory before laying it off to Abdourahman Njie whose shot was blocked away by goalkeeper Mark Mitchell. Njie was first to react to the loose ball and clipped it back into the six-yard box, but Mitchell was back on his feet to gather his cross.
However, Vics opened the scoring in the eighth minute. Matty Johnston sent a free kick from just inside his own half into the Luncarty box, and when Craig Watson headed the ball back into the middle, ABDOURAHMAN NJIE still had plenty to do, but he left the ‘keeper rooted to his line by sending an overhead kick into the left-hand corner.
Njie almost doubled Vics’ lead a minute later when Watson picked up a Sturrock pass and sent him into the box, but on this occasion, Mitchell just got enough of a block on his shot to take the sting out of it before it could reach the goal line.
Soon after, Grant Mowatt picked up a loose ball in midfield and drove at the heart of the Luncarty defence before laying it off to Warren, but he wasted the chance by slashing a shot wide from just inside the box.
At the other end, a Steven McAllister free kick from midway inside Vics’ half carried towards the far side of the box, where Cassidy, coming in, fired a volley just wide.
Gavin Anderson was next to have a go for Luncarty advancing down the left before curling in a shot, which Hutcheson got behind to hold on the line.
Despite that, Vics early endeavour saw them rewarded with a well worked second goal in the 27th minute. David McLeish and Warren combined on the left and when the latter played the ball back to McLeish, he whipped a cross into the box, which saw CRAIG WATSON get above the defence to glance header beyond Mitchell.
Luncarty responded with Stuart Nicol feeding David Fyfe out wide on the right, and he sent a dangerous cross across the face of goal, which just eluded Alex Williams coming in at the back post.
Vics hopes of taking a two goal lead into the break were dashed when Luncarty halved the deficit three minutes before the whistle. Gavin Anderson swung in a corner, which found its way into the path of Kevyn Fowler and he was upended by a clumsy challenge from C. Watson as he tried to clear. DANIEL KELLY took the resultant spot kick and beat Hutcheson with a low shot into the ‘keeper’s right-hand corner.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 2, Luncarty 1.
Vics were first to show after the break with Craig Stephen sending Njie down the right and when he crossed into the area, Warren’s shot crashed off a defender and flew out of the danger area.
Williams picked up a yellow card in the 51st minute after lunging into a tackle on Johnston as he attempted to get the ball.
The same player had a chance from a free kick awarded just outside the box three minutes later, but the Vics defensive wall did its job, charging down his effort.
Ten minutes into the second half, Luncarty made a change, replacing Fyfe with John Anderson.
The move paid dividends within five minutes when Luncarty drew level. Ryan Ward hurled a long throw-in into the box, which JOHN ANDERSON headed on, but as the ball bounced around the six-yard box with Vics unable to clear, the substitute reacted to his own flick on by stabbing the ball over the line.
Luncarty’s joy was shortlived as two minutes later, Vics were back in front. Njie was sent on a run down the right and when his cross was headed away, GRANT MOWATT gathered it just outside the box, before cutting into the area and planting a shot into the net from 15 yards.
Williams wasn’t far off target with a drive from distance as the away side went in search of an equaliser for the second time.
In an effort to combat the threat of Anderson, Vics dropped Kevin Durno back into central defence and moved Johnston into midfield.
Warren and Fowler both found their names in the referee’s book when the Vics’ player threw the ball away and the Luncarty player shoved him back in retaliation.
The referee had his cards out again in the 74th minute when Sturrock and Williams were involved in a confrontation on the edge of the penalty box with the ball elsewhere. Both players received yellow, but as it was the Luncarty player/manager’s second of the afternoon his was followed by a red leaving his side to carry on with 10 men.
On the resumption, Vics sent on Ross Kenny for Warren.
Vics came close to increasing their lead soon after when Stephen played the ball out of defence for Njie who swapped passes with Watson before rolling the ball into the path of Kenny, but Mitchell dived out to block the substitute’s shot when a goal looked certain.
Hutcheson had to look lively when Fowler fired in a shot from distance, which the keeper kept his eye on to beat away.
With the clock ticking down, Luncarty replaced McAllister with Allan Hay, while at the same time Vics sent trialist Kane Hester on for Njie. Vics made a further change a couple of minutes later when Jake McWalter came on for Watson.
Despite a lengthy period of stoppage time, Vics held out comfortably for the three points and came close to grabbing a fourth just before the final whistle when McWalter and Kenny combined to set up Mowatt, but Mitchell did well to block his shot.
In what was Vics’ best display since before the turn of the year they fully deserved the win and all but put paid to Luncarty’s hopes of promotion to the Premier Division, at the same time gaining revenge for the 5-0 away defeat back in December.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, Stephen, Sturrock, Johnston, Durno, Florence, Mowatt, Njie (Hester 84), Watson (McWalter 86), McLeish, Warren (Kenny 74).
Luncarty: Mitchell, Robertson, Cassidy, Ward, Nicol, McAllister (Hay 84), Fyfe (Anderson 55), Fowler, Williams, Kelly, Anderson. Unused sub: McKenzie.
Referee: Mr. N. Forbes.
Vics continue their league programme tomorrow (Saturday) with an away match against East Craigie. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and transport leaves Ogilvy Park at 12.45 p.m.
Winners this week were: £10 – No. 91, Jim Shepherd; £5 – No. 53, Bill Rattray.
East North League
P W D L F A Pts
Dundee NE 27 21 4 2 103 29 67
Star Hearts 23 15 1 7 76 39 46
Blairgowrie 24 15 1 8 65 36 46
Newburgh 20 12 6 2 68 31 42
Luncarty 22 13 1 8 65 42 40
Forfar WE 22 12 2 8 60 37 38
Downfield 19 11 4 4 43 28 37
Arbroath Vics 24 10 5 9 59 61 35
Scone Thistle 22 10 2 10 49 61 32
Thornton 20 9 2 9 57 43 29
East Craigie 22 9 1 12 51 41 28
Lochore 20 8 4 8 38 42 28
Brechin Vics 24 6 2 16 27 56 20
Lochee Harp 23 5 3 15 46 64 18
Forfar Albion 27 4 0 23 33 121 12
Coupar Angus 19 0 0 19 11 120 0