Last-gasp goal sends brave Vics crashing out of League Cup

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Arbroath Vics 2,

Carnoustie Panmure 3

HAVING qualified from the group stages of the D.J. Laing League Cup, Arbroath Vics didn’t have long to wait to play their semi-final, playing host to Carnoustie Panmure on Tuesday evening.

With Matty Johnston having picked up a knock on Saturday, David McLeish switched to right-back and Terry Gray was given a place in midfield.

Carnoustie had romped through their section scoring no less than 27 goals in the process and conceding only two.

Vics kicked off but immediately lost possession and were forced to concede a free-kick. That gave the initiative to Carnoustie, but after a sustained spell of pressure, Vics managed to clear their lines.

With only four minutes gone, Kevin Milne cut in from the right and fired a shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

After Carnoustie’s early forays, Vics began to settle and Garry Warren made ground up the left winning a corner, but Gray’s cross was headed out of the danger area.

McCafferty was the first ‘keeper called upon to make a save, punching away a McLeish cross and then following it up by diving to smother a shot from Craig Stephen who had latched onto the loose ball.

A sweeping move involving Michael McIlravey, Kevin Cumming and Scott Gates ended with the latter swinging over a dangerous cross, which Mark Fotheringham was forced to dive and head behind for a corner. Brian Clark’s flag kick fell for Scott Gates and his shot was deflected behind for yet another corner. Clark’s second kick was only partially cleared by Vics’ defence and John Roberts’ 20-yard drive looked netbound until Lee Hutcheson dived to push it round the post.

At the other end, McLeish picked out Stephen who crossed into the box for Ryan Owbridge who fired off a shot, which beat the ‘keeper but was blocked a couple of yards from the line.

Vics were giving as good as they got at this point and when Owbridge nodded the ball on for Stephen, he sent a shot whizzing across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

Scott McDowell was the first player to be yellow carded when he took the feet away from Kevin Cumming.

With a couple of minutes of the half remaining, Carnoustie almost made the breakthrough. Scott Robertson got on the end of a Clark corner to power a header goalwards, which was cleared off the line by McLeish stationed at the post.

Half-time: Arbroath Vics 0, Carnoustie Panmure 0.

With just over a minute of the second half played, Vics stunned Carnoustie by taking the lead. Stephen made good ground down the right before crossing into the box and OWBRIDGE, still with plenty to do, managed to stick out a leg to reach the ball and steer it beyond the reach of McCafferty.

A free kick by Durno allowed McDowell to head the ball back across the face of goal where McCafferty just got to it before Fotheringham to punch clear.

Hutcheson kept Vics in front with a great save three minutes later, diving low to his left to turn Milne’s shot behind for a corner when it looked to be angling just inside the post.

However in the 55th minute, Vics opened up a two-goal advantage. Toner was forced to give away a corner and when Fotheringham headed Warren’s cross goalwards it looked to be handled on the line, but the referee wasn’t interested and when the ball broke to Sturrock, his follow up was deflected over the bar. However from the second kick, DURNO angled his run perfectly to glance a header beyond the reach of the ‘keeper.

Vics went looking for a third and came within inches of doing so eight minutes later when McDowell hooked the ball on for Owbridge who got beyond the Gowfers’ defence only to see his shot crash down off the underside of the bar.

Gray was next to have a go drilling a shot inches wide of the target as Vics gave the Carnoustie defence a torrid time.

Midway through the half, Carnoustie made a change in attempt to get back into the match, replacing Roberts with Robert Hendry.

Hutcheson pulled off yet another great save to preserve Vics’ two-goal lead in the 70th minute when he somehow got to Milne’s shot to flick it wide.

Two minutes later however, Carnoustie pulled a goal back. CLARK was given time and space to run at the defence and his shot took a deflection, wrong-footing Hutcheson and ending up in the back of the net.

In the 76th minute, Carnoustie were right back in it when they grabbed an equaliser. Vics struggled to clear a Robertson cross and when the ball fell at the feet of STEVEN COOK he wasted no time in blasting a 20-yard drive high into the roof of the net.

Vics might have folded having lost their two-goal lead, but they almost went back in front two minutes later when Owbridge seized on a mistake by Toner to run through on goal but his shot cleared the crossbar.

As play swung from end to end, Milne very nearly put Carnoustie in front, heading a Clark cross just wide at the near post.

It was Vics’ turn to be out of luck a couple of minutes later when Gray swung over a cross into the six-yard box and both Owbridge and Stephen had close-range shots blocked by McCafferty.

Vics kept pressing, but in the 82nd minute a ridiculous decision saw them down to 10 men. McDowell attempted to get in a shot inside the Carnoustie six-yard box, but the ball was taken off his toe. His leg caught a visiting defender and the referee showed him a second yellow card and sent him off. Vics immediately withdrew Warren and sent on Nicky Smith.

Referee Ferguson then went card crazy for a couple of minutes entering the name of Carnoustie pair Milne and Gates into his book, followed by Vics’ Sturrock.

With penalties looming, Vics sent Lee Jones on for Stephen in the 90th minute.

However there was a twist in the tail as Vics struggled manfully to keep Carnoustie at bay. Willie Ferguson again became the talking point when he played an unbelievable five minutes of stoppage time and with virtually the last kick of the ball COOK drilled a shot beyond Hutcheson after Durno appeared to be fouled to grab an unlikely win for Carnoustie.

Yet again everyone was left talking about the shocking performance of the referee, which, taking nothing away from Carnoustie’s fightback, contributed greatly to them reaching the final with two controversial decisions, which left Vics fuming and failing to reach what would have been their first cup final appearance for 25 years.

Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish, Florence, Gray, Durno, Sturrock, McDowell, Fotheringham, Owbridge, Warren (Smith 82), Stephen (Jones 90). Unused substitutes: Lawson, McKenzie, Laing and Cargill, gk.

Carnoustie Panmure: McCafferty, Toner, Roberts (Hendry 66), Millar, Robertson, Cook, McIlravey, Cumming, Clark, Milne, Gates. Unused substitutes: Perera, Narey and Ferguson.

Referee: Mr. W. Ferguson (Forfar).

Arbroath Vics 4, Blairgowrie 1

ARBROATH Vics completed their sectional matches in the D.J. Laing League Cup with a home match against Blairgowrie on Saturday.

Knowing a win would see them qualify for the semi-final stages, Vics made only the one change to the side that drew at Montrose Roselea the previous Saturday; Mark Fotheringham replacing Nicky Smith.

There were two additions to the bench with Kevin Steele, having been signed from Dundee North End, taking a place as did Terry Gray, having recovered from injury.

Vics immediately put pressure on the Blairgowrie rearguard with David McLeish breaking free up the right and sending a dangerous cross into the box, which came off the outstretched leg of James Simpson and looped into the arms of goalkeeper Addison Muir.

The ‘keeper was tested again in the 10th minute, punching away a Craig Stephen cross after the ball had been pulled back to him following a McLeish corner. Blairgowrie still struggled to clear their lines and when the ball was eventually played back into the box, Addison Muir did well to get a touch to Garry Warren’s drive to divert it away from goal and Ryan Owbridge, from almost on the by-line, could only divert the loose ball into the side-net.

In Blairgowrie’s first attack of note, Gary Axworthy played a long ball forward for Gary Mackie to chase, but Kevin Durno just got to it before him and the ball rebounded off the Blair player into the arms of Lee Hutcheson who had advanced to the edge of his area.

At the other end, McLeish and Warren worked an opening up the left but the keeper was alert to the situation and got down at the foot of the near post to push McLeish’s cross for a corner.

In the 23rd minute, Blairgowrie opened the scoring through an own goal. David Salisbury looked to be impeded in the box by STEVE FLORENCE, but when the referee allowed play to continue, the ball ricocheted back off the Vics’ player and spun into the net beyond Lee Hutcheson.

The Berrypickers lead was shortlived as within four minutes, Vics were back on level terms. A fine move from deep inside their own half opened up the Blair defence and when the ball was pulled back to MARK FOTHERINGHAM he struck a crisp shot beyond the ‘keeper with the outside of his boot from 18 yards.

Half-time: Arbroath Vics 1, Blairgowrie 1.

Vics made a change at the start of the second half, sending on Steele and withdrawing Matty Johnston, resulting in McLeish switching to right-back.

Vics were pushing Blairgowrie further and further back and their pressure was eventually rewarded when they took the lead in the 62nd minute. Warren crossed into the box where RYAN OWBRIDGE escaped his marker before taking the ball around the ‘keeper and steering it into the net beyond the defender on the line. Before play restarted, Scott McDowell was replaced by Gray, while soon after, Blairgowrie sent on Roddy Gillies for Aidan Kelly.

Blairgowrie tried to respond and enjoyed their best spell of the game. Marc Byrne set up an attack, playing the ball wide to Ryder who picked out Salisbury in the box, but Florence got a touch to his volley to deflect it wide.

Five minutes later, an Axworthy corner fell at the feet of the same player, but he saw his weak shot easily gathered by Hutcheson. Byrne made way for Chris Linford in the 73rd minute.

Vics however all but wrapped up a semi-final berth with a third goal in the 76th minute. Gavin Shannon was forced to concede a corner and when Warren played the flag kick low towards the near post, KEVIN DURNO stole in to sweep the ball into the net.

With 10 minutes left, Steele picked up a knock in a tackle and was unable to resume; his place being taken by Danny McKenzie.

In the final minute, Vics sealed the win with a fourth goal. Stephen sent over a cross from the right and TERRY GRAY got to the ball ahead of the keeper before diving to nod it into the empty net as it bounced towards the line.

Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, Johnston (Steele 46, (McKenzie 80)), Florence, McLeish, Durno, Sturrock, McDowell (Gray 63), Fotheringham, Owbridge, Warren, Stephen. Unused substitutes: Smith, Lawson, Laing and Cargill, gk.

Blairgowrie: Muir, Shannon, Mackie, Ryder, Pirie, Simpson, Kelly (Gillies 65), Byrne (Linford 73), Salisbury, Millar, Axworthy. Unused substitutes: Harris, Thomson and Mackie.

Referee: Mr. K. Schroeder (Dundee).

Tomorrow’s match

Tomorrow (Saturday) Vics open their league programme with an away match at Montrose Roselea in the McBookie North Division. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. Players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.45 p.m.

160 Club

Winners this week were: £10 – No. 102, Jim Hodson; £5 – No. 47, David McLeish.