Kennoway Star Hearts 3, Arbroath Vics 0
Arbroath Vics were again out of town on Saturday when they travelled to Star, in Fife, to meet second place Kennoway Star Hearts in the league.
With Steve Florence, Colin Lawson and Jack Whitton all not making the trip, Vics were forced into a re-shuffle of the pack.
Mark Fotheringham dropped back into defence, while there were recalls to the starting line-up for Andy Cowan, David McLeish and Garry Warren.
The home side kicked off playing down the considerable slope on the ground, but it was Vics who carved out the first opening when a Warren cross from the left was only partially cleared by the Hearts defence allowing Andy Cowan to set up Grant Mowatt, but his shot from almost on the 18-yard line was held low down to his left by goalkeeper, Michael Watson.
With five minutes played, however Star were in front. Matty Johnston was yellow carded for swiping the feet from under Chris Lornie out on the far touchline and when Alan McAllister swung the resultant free kick into the box, SEAN MURDOCH rose unchallenged to send a header beyond Lee Hutcheson.
Hearts came close to increasing their lead two minutes later when Lornie set off on a surging run down the left before firing in a drive, which beat Hutcheson but crashed back into play off the foot of the post.
It took Vics a while to get into some sort of rhythm but they eventually managed to get a foothold into proceedings and Ross Kenny caused a moment of anxiety in the Hearts’ defence when he got on the end of a Warren corner in the 17th minute, but his header dropped wide of the post.
At the other end, George Field played the ball downfield to Lornie, who looked to have got the better of Johnston, but the centre-half just recovered in the nick of time to block his shot.
Another period of Hearts’ pressure saw Sean Murdoch pick out Lornie who flicked the ball into the box beyond Mark Fotheringham, but the Vics number eight just got enough of a touch to it to knock it back to Hutcheson before he could line up a shot.
Lornie had an even better chance in the 22nd minute when he gathered in an Alan McAllister pass and turned the defence to make space for a shot, but he shot wildly over as Hutcheson raced off his line to try and narrow the angle.
Hutcheson was then forced into a save when an Alistair Gray throw-in saw George Field and Kevin Byers combine to set up Lornie again, but the ‘keeper comfortably held his drive.
Vics were still very much in the match despite Hearts having most of the possession and they created an opening in the 31st minute when Ross Kenny nodded on a Craig Sturrock free kick, which Abdourahman Njie volleyed goalwards, but the referee ruled him off side as his shot cannoned back off the ‘keeper’s chest.
A double save from Hutcheson kept Vics in the game when he managed to beat away a fierce drive from Lornie then following it up to keep out the rebound from Gray who seemed set to score.
The ‘keeper was in the wars a minute later when he was flattened in an accidental collision with Gray as he gathered a cross inside the six-yard box. After extensive treatment he was passed fit to continue.
Vics almost sneaked an equaliser in the 42nd minute when Cowan sent Warren free on the left and his cross along the six-yard line was sliced over his own bar by Thomas Hush as he stuck out a leg to clear.
Half-time: Kennoway Star Hearts 1, Arbroath Vics 0.
Unfortunately for Vics, Hutcheson was unable to continue after the interval and was taken to hospital suffering from concussion. With no substitute ‘keeper on the bench, Fotheringham was forced to take over in goal and Kevin Durno came in at centre-half from the bench.
The stand-in ‘keeper made a good block within a couple of minutes of the re-start beating away a fierce effort from Field after McAllister, Stefan Anderson and Iain Boylan had all combined to create the opening.
In a repeat of the only goal in the fifth minute, Sean Murdoch got on the end of an McAllister free kick, five minutes into the second period, but on this occasion, he guided his header wide.
Njie had a chance to put Vics on level terms when he was sent through the Hearts’ defence by Craig Stephen but he wasted the opportunity by shooting high and wide as he cut in from the right.
The home side increased their lead in the 55th minute. Yet another free kick saw McAllister send the ball into the box, and although Fotheringham looked to have gathered it, he allowed it to break from his grasp and it struck the inside of the post and ran along the line allowing IAIN BOYLAN the simplest of tap ins.
Two minutes later, and the home team had the points in the bag when they went 3-0 in front. Sturrock hauled down Liam Craig just outside the area on the right and after David McLeish was booked for disputing the decision, ALAN McALLISTER’S free kick took a slight deflection leaving Fotheringham helpless as it nestled in the far corner.
Vics tried to respond and Durno brought out a save from Michael Watson when he got a header on target from a Warren corner, but it was straight down the throat of the keeper.
Both teams made substitutions; Vics sending on Craig Watson and Jake McWalter for Grant Mowatt and Warren, before Hearts replaced Field with Kyle Wilson before withdrawing Craig in favour of Ryan Thomson.
A dangerous cross whipped into the Hearts box by Johnston almost allowed Craig Watson and Njie a shot at goal, but neither could make proper contact and the ball ran through to Michael Watson.
Hearts made their third change of the afternoon in the 73rd minute when Anderson was replaced by Scott Gilbert.
Vics were denied what would have been a consolation goal four minutes later when Njie broke down the left and pulled the ball back for McWalter to set up Cowan but his 20-yard drive struck the bar and went over.
Before the close Kyle Wilson should have bagged a fourth for the home side when he seized upon a slack pass from Johnston but shot high over the bar with only Fotheringham to beat.
After a shaky start, Vics managed to get back into the game to go in only one goal behind at the interval. Playing down the slope they might have thought they had a chance of taking something out of the game, but the injury to Hutcheson, resulting in Fotheringham taking over in goal, proved too much and the two quick goals early in the second period eased Hearts to a comfortable victory.
Kennoway Star Hearts: Watson, Anderson (Gilbert 73), Gray, Murdoch, Hush, Boylan, Craig (Thomson 65), Byers, Lornie, McAllister, Field (Wilson 62). Unused subs: Bremner and Brown.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson (Durno 46), Stephen, Sturrock, Cowan, Johnston, McLeish, Mowatt (Watson 60), Fotheringham, Kenny, Njie, Warren (McWalter 60). Unused sub: Simpson.
Referee: Mr. J. Curran (Dunfermline).
After being out of town for a couple of weeks, Vics are back on home territory tomorrow (Saturday) when they play host to Lochee Harp in the league. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m.
Winners for the past two weeks were: £70 - No. 82, Becky Medhurst; £30 – No. 126, Craig Sturrock; £15 – No. 42, Chris Simpson; £15 – No. 123, Dave Mann; £10 – No. 108, Russell Ruxton; £10 – No. 81, Grant Mowatt; £10 - No. 111, Kenny Esselmont; £5 – No. 43 Katie Voigt; £5 – No. 128, Hugh McQuade; £5 – No. 69, Andy Tough.
McBookie.com East North League
P W D L F A Pts
Dundee NE 25 19 4 2 98 27 61
Star Hearts 20 14 1 5 73 33 43
Blairgowrie 21 13 1 7 60 32 40
Luncarty 20 12 1 7 62 39 37
Newburgh 18 10 6 2 62 28 36
Downfield 16 9 4 3 34 24 31
Forfar WE 19 9 2 8 49 35 29
Scone Thistle 21 9 2 10 46 59 29
Lochore Wel 18 8 4 6 37 38 28
Arbroath Vics 21 8 4 9 49 57 28
Thornton Hibs 17 8 2 7 53 38 26
East Craigie 20 8 1 11 49 38 25
Lochee Harp 20 5 2 13 42 55 17
Brechin Vics 21 5 2 14 21 52 17
Forfar Albion 24 4 0 20 31 111 12
Coupar Angus 17 0 0 17 10 110 0