Arbroath Vics 3, Kirrie Thistle 2
WHILE most people’s attention was focused on Scotland’s European qualifier against the Czech Republic, Arbroath Vics were playing host to Kirrie Thistle in a McBookie.com North League fixture on Saturday.
Vics made one change to the side that drew 0-0 at Montrose Roselea the previous week, Terry Gray coming into the midfield, with Craig Stephen dropping down to the bench.
Having defeated Forfar Albion in their opening league fixture, Kirrie Thistle were quickly on the offensive and could easily have opened the scoring in the first minute when Darren Neave was given time and space to get on the end of a Kris Morrice cross, but fortunately for Vics he directed his header over the bar with only Lee Hutcheson to beat.
In the fifth minute, Ross Sievwright sent Joe Farquharson away down the right and was in position inside the box to meet the cross, but he stabbed his shot wide at the near post.
Vics first opportunity came a couple of minutes later when Kevin Steele headed a Hutcheson clearance on for Ryan Owbridge. The striker played the ball left to Garry Warren, whose shot across goal took a deflection and flew behind for a corner.
Hutcheson was the busier of the two keepers and he did well to dive to his right and push away a Morrice free kick, which bounced awkwardly in front of him and was threatening to find its way just inside the post.
Scott McDowell put Vics back on the attack, playing the ball upfield to Warren. He in turn knocked it on for Mark Fotheringham who returned it to the feet of Warren. He squared it into the path of Steele, but his shot was blocked and Warren drove the rebound wide.
Kirrie again threatened when Farquharson gathered a Gary Smith throw-in and turned to fire in a 25-yard drive, which Hutcheson was again equal to, the ‘keeper diving to touch the ball round the post.
In the 31st minute, Kirrie’s pressure paid off with the opening goal. Hutcheson was again called on to save Vics when he was forced to turn a Sievwright effort behind for a corner. However from the flag-kick, Gary Archibald got on the end of Farquharson’s cross to knock the ball back into the six-yard box, and DARREN NEAVE supplied the finishing touch from almost on the line.
The lead was shortlived as within five minutes, Vics were back on level terms thanks to a blunder from David Gorman. With plenty of time to have cleared his lines, the centre-half lost his footing just outside the box and RYAN OWBRIDGE gratefully accepted the gift to advance into the area and take the ball beyond ‘keeper Chris Hutchison before rolling it into the empty net.
The goal appeared to galvanise Vics and they almost edged ahead in the 40th minute. McLeish picked out Owbridge, who nodded the ball down for Fotheringham, before taking the return and drilling in a shot, which Hutchison did well to turn round the post at full stretch.
Almost on the half-time whistle, Can Atagan was booked for hauling down Warren and Hutchison ensured the teams went in level at the break when he leapt to tip Gray’s free kick over the bar.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 1, Kirrie Thistle 1.
McDowell almost put Vics ahead with an opportunist goal a minute into the second period when he seized upon a poor clearance from Hutchison and hit a first-time shot back towards goal with the ‘keeper off his line, but his effort drifted wide of the post.
Vics then had claims for a penalty waved away when a Steele drive struck the hand of Ian McKenna, but there was little the Kirrie player could have done to get out of the way of the ball. The ball broke out to Warren on the left and his driven cross was fisted away by Hutchison.
Gray picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Farquahrson and from the resultant free kick Morrice got two bites at the cherry when his first attempt came back to him and his second cannoned off the body of Hutcheson and Steve Florence was forced to concede a corner by turning the ball over his own crossbar before any of the Kirrie players could reach.
McLeish then kept Vics on level terms stationing himself at the post to head clear an angled drive from Sievwright after a Morrice corner had been allowed to drift across the box.
A good Vics move involving Fotheringham, Steele and Owbridge almost found a way through the Kirrie defence, but when Fotheringham tried to set up Warren inside the box, it allowed Hutchison to flop on the ball and prevent him from getting in a shot.
Midway through the half, Vics made a change, sending on Stephen for Steele.
Hutchison then had to be on his toes to parry away a fierce drive from Owbridge before Warren sliced the rebound wide.
In the 70th minute, Vics went in front. Stephen made a surging run down the right and although his cut-back was just a shade too strong, the ball eventually found its way out to Warren on the left, and when he returned it into the box, MARK FOTHERINGHAM launched himself forward to send a diving header beyond the reach of Hutchison.
Soon after, Kirrie made a double substitution when Farquharson and Robbie Black were replaced by Stewart Russell and Ally Scott.
Owbridge came close to increasing Vics’ lead when he rose above the Kirrie defence to reach a Sturrock free kick but his header looped over the bar. A long throw-in from Gray allowed Owbridge to nod the ball down into the six-yard box, but his shot was blocked and spun into the arms of Hutchison.
With five minutes left, Kirrie broke quickly from defence to grab an equaliser. SIEVWRIGHT surged forward linking up with Archibald before running on to drill a shot low into the bottom corner of the net.
Vics immediately replaced Gray with Danny McKenzie on the restart.
With time running out, Stewart Russell found his name in the referee’s book when he went in late on McLeish.
Deep into stoppage time and with the referee looking at his watch, Vics won a throw-in on a level with the Kirrie six-yard line. Before the throw could be taken, Kirrie tried to waste a few more seconds by sending on Greg Petherick for Kris Morrice who trudged off as slowly as he could. The move backfired, however, as it allowed Vics time to take the throw and when David McLeish hurled the ball into the area it was knocked down into the six-yard box where DANNY McKENZIE hooked it high into the roof of the net to grab a last gasp winner.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish, Florence, Gray (McKenzie 86), Johnston, Sturrock, McDowell, Fotheringham, Owbridge, Warren, Steele (Stephen 65). Unused substitutes: Laing, Smith, Jones and Cargill, gk.
Kirrie Thistle: Hutchison, Farquharson (Russell 73), Atagan, McKenna, Smith, Neave, Black (Scott 73), Gorman, Morrice (Petherick 90), Archibald, Sievwright. Unused substitutes: Millar, Stevenson, Barclay and Archibald.
Referee: Mr. M. Ritchie (Arbroath).
Vics are out of town tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel to Dundee to meet North End in a league fixture. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.45 p.m.
Winners this week were: £70 – No. 74, B. Shepherd; £30 – No. 63, June Booth; £15 – No. 53, Bill Rattray; £15 – No. 40, Kevin Laing; £10 – No. 107, Craig Smith; £5 – No. 122, Chris Cargill.