Lichties bounce back for first pre-season win

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ARBROATH came from a goal down to record their first win of pre-season with a 3-1 victory over Keith at Gayfield on Saturday.

A double by Lee Sibanda, along with a Derek Holmes header (his first for the club), ensured the Lichties comfortably beat their Highland League rivals.

It was an uneventful first half although Keith did take the lead just before half-time thanks to Jonathon Smith.

But a much improved performance after the interval, along with a host of substitutions saw the Gayfield men take control of the game.

And at full-time, manager Paul Sheerin said: “It was a much better display than last week against Aberdeen with quite a few trialists coming in which isn’t easy.

“The first half wasn’t great but we changed the tempo and the shape and it was much better second half.

“We passed better and Darren [Hill] made a couple of good saves so we are looking forward to next week now.”

The manager used the game to cast his eye over more new trialists before the season starts.

Included were former AFC Wimbledon defender David Banjo, Dominic Dickenson, who came through the youth system at Huddersfield Town, and former Ross County player Alex Keddie, who spent last season at Dunfermline.

Keiran Brennan and Darren Gribben were also trialists but pledged their services to the club after the game by signing contracts.

The boss added: “A couple did well today. I thought David (Banjo) did well at right-back as he is more a central midfielder and he looked quite strong.

“Alex Keddie was here to get a feel for the place and we hope to go further with him but it will be a big commitment dropping down to part-time.”

The game kicked off with Darren Hill, Jake Mair and Steven Doris the only players in the starting line-up who were at the club last season in what was a much changed side.

The opening stages were uneventful but Banjo and Brennan showed promise and seemed to fit into the team well.

Last season’s top scorer Doris was first to test the ‘keeper with a long-range strike and minutes later he set up Paul Currie, whose shot was just inches wide.

However, the Lichties were finding it hard to take control of the game and it wasn’t long before Keith took the lead.

A corner by Andrew Macaskill picked out SMITH who smashed the ball past Hill to hit the back of the net.

Doris and Gribben threatened before half-time but both their chances amounted to nothing.

Half-time: Arbroath 0, Keith 1.

The Lichties rang the changes at half-time when Sibanda, Sheerin and Holmes were introduced.

The second half started slowly but on 58 minutes, the home side made the breakthrough when Gribben sent a cross into the box.

HOLMES jumped at the near post and headed the ball across the line to level the score.

And it wasn’t long before the Lichties got into their stride and doubled their lead.

Gribben again played the ball in for SIBANDA who grabbed his first goal of the game.

And just minutes later SIBANDA made it three when he connected with a cross supplied by substitute Daniel Rennie.

After the 10-minute goal spell, Hill was then called into action when Macaskill broke free and tried his luck on goal with a header.

But the Lichties’ keeper pulled off a good save to deny the Keith midfielder.

In the dying stages Sibanda looked on course for his hat-trick when he connected with a Sheerin cross but he was denied by Keith ‘keeper Murray Kinnaird.

But after the game, Sibanda said he was just happy to be involved once again.

He explained: “I’m delighted to get another wee run out as I’ve been struggling with a groin strain so it’s great to get a couple of goals.

“It has been a hard pre-season this year as we were only back four weeks ago.

“I would say it has been a lot harder than last year but I’ve been doing a lot of weight training and I’m definitely seeing the benefits.

“But we are all ready to go now.

“Hopefully we can get a couple more players in and I know the boss has been struggling with not getting people he wanted.

“But it just time for us to get on with the job.”

Team: Hill, Banjo, Dickenson, Prince-Wright, Travis, Keddie, Mair, Currie, Doris, Gribben and Brennan. Substitutes: Sibanda, Baxter, Holmes, Rennie and Whitton (not used).

Referee: Gavin Duncan.

Attendance: 320.

l Watch videos of our interviews with Paul Sheerin and Lee Sibanda at www.arbroathherald.co.uk