Arbroath were left ruing missed chances when Angus rivals Brechin City netted twice in the second half to deny the Lichties a vital win in their bid to make the play-offs.
City, who hadn’t looked likely to score in the first 45 minutes, took the lead through Andy Jackson before Gerry McLauchlan wrapped up all three points for the home side.
Speaking after the match, Arbroath player-manager Paul Sheerin said: “I thought we played some good stuff in the first half.
“We weren’t working the ‘keeper enough. He had a great save from Bayne’s header, he gets down really well. Fusco has blocked Keddie’s shot right at the death.
“When you lose a goal you are pushing to get back in to the game. We are more desperate for the points than Brechin are. Obviously it cements their place and deservedly so throughout the season.
“I don’t think we worked the ‘keeper enough and that is something we will try and look at. I’ve said it before, we maybe just miss a player with just that something a wee bit different and that can turn a game on its head.
“We have still got a bit of work to do. Thankfully Forfar never picked up any points so we are still in the mix. We will probably have to win all of our three games, which won’t be easy, no game is.
“Everyone is still vying for different bits and bobs. It will be difficult.
“It makes it a wee bit harder when you start to run out of games but we will keep striving to try and get there. Hopefully, we can stumble in, but it won’t be easy.
“We are still in with a shout which is a nice thing. We will try and lift ourselves and go again next week.”
Brechin City manager Ray McKinnon, who was without several first team regulars, praised his players. Mr McKinnon commented: “It was definitely a big challenge for the players today and the guys who came in.
“The idea was to be very compact in the first half of the game, and as the game wears on we changed the formation – which we did.
“We were more offensive. But I thought the guys today were absolutely different class.
“I’m really delighted with the performances today. It’s a great three points and a timely three points.”
Paul Sheerin nearly set things in motion for the visitors in the 11th minute, when he delivered a superb ball from a corner kick. However, Michael Andrews was able to tip the ball over the bar.
Just moments later, it seemed all too likely that Steven Doris would hand Arbroath the lead when he found himself with just the ‘keeper to beat.
Doris had breezed past McLauchlan, but Andrews was out quick to meet the striker, quickly closing him down and smothered the ball at Doris’ feet.
Andrews denied Arbroath again in the 14th minute. Mark Baxter crossed in to the box and Graham Bayne had a superb headed effort from close range, but the City ‘keeper was down fast to push the ball round the post and away from danger.
Doris had another opportunity half an hour in but McLauchlan, perhaps attempting to make up for his earlier sluggishness, was quick on the scene to block his effort.
Arbroath had another chance to take the lead in the dying minutes of the first half, when Alex Keddie had a shot on goal. It looked destined for the back of the net, but somehow Gary Fusco was able to head Keddie’s shot over the crossbar.
Half-time: Brechin City 0, Arbroath 0.
It was perhaps City who had the slight edge at the restart, with Jonathan Brown replacing Graham Hay at the start of the second half, giving the home side more pace down the left wing.
Ryan Stewart almost took the lead for City when he had an attempt on goal in the 54th minute, but his shot crept just wide of the post.
It was City’s second substitution of the day that proved to be the turning point in the game for the home side, with David McKenna replacing Beau Longridge in the 59th minute.
It took McKenna just five minutes to have an effect on the match. He collected the ball wide on the right and delivered a cross into the box for JACKSON who headed beyond the reach of Scott Morrison.
Indeed, it seems Morrison’s first real touch of the ball was to pick it out of the back of the net.
Just a minute later, McKenna almost doubled City’s lead when he latched on to a Brown pass, but his shot was straight at the ‘keeper.
City doubled their lead in the 85th minute, with McLauchlan the somewhat unlikely goal scored.
A seemingly harmless corner was poorly dealt with by Sheerin, whose attempt to clear the danger resulted in the ball falling into the path of McLAUCHLAN, who rifled home a right footed shot from six yards out.
The Lichties pushed on searching for an equaliser, with Lee Sibanda twice seemingly through on goal, only to be flagged offside on both occasions.