Newburgh 3, Arbroath Vics 1
Arbroath Vics were again out of town on Saturday when they travelled into Fife to meet third placed Newburgh in a league fixture.
The game was in doubt due to heavy overnight rain right up until 11.45 a.m. but a pitch inspection by the match referee saw it given the go ahead.
Vics made three changes to the side that won at Forfar Albion the previous week; Jamie Thomson, Craig Watson and Garry Warren all being recalled to the starting line-up resulting in Scott Donald, Kieran MacGregor and Colin Lawson dropping down to the bench.
The surface at East Shore Park was indeed very heavy, but definitely playable, as the match got under way with Vics forcing a couple of early corners, but their early thrust was contained when goalkeeper Craig Houston eventually plucked a Garry Warren cross out of the air.
Newburgh’s first foray into the Vics’ half saw Allan Ferguson send the ball down the right to Gary Spence who cut the ball back into the box, but his cross into the centre of the area was swept away by Dale Riddell.
In the 12th minute Steve Florence was taken out late inside his own box as Newburgh attacked, but the referee allowed play to continue and only halted proceedings when the ball struck David Sturrock full in the face, much to the annoyance of the home side. However had he given the foul initially the referee would have saved himself from confrontation.
The home side was showing much more invention than Vics and Jordan Davidson almost gave them the lead in the 14th minute when he curled a 20 yard shot just wide following good work between Darren Hood and Steven Harris, which created the opening.
A good spell of Newburgh pressure again forced Vics onto the back foot and when Dylan Honeyman advanced into the box and clipped the ball across for Steven Harris, he just failed to reach it and Vics were relieved to see it drop wide of the post.
Despite that, Vics almost grabbed the opening goal a couple of minutes later. Craig Watson sent a raking pass out wide from his own half into the path of Hester who sent it into the box from the right where Josh Chalmers turned his marker only to see a defender stick out a leg to block his parting shot.
Just as the weather changed from dry to rain in the 25th minute, so did the match as Newburgh took the lead. Matty Johnston gave away a free kick wide on the left and when Honeyman swung the kick into the box, STEVEN HARRIS got on the end of it to direct a header in low at the far post beyond the reach of Alex Cargill.
Hester’s pace again caused Newburgh problems as he weaved his way into the box, but he couldn’t get his shot away. The clearance only went as far as Matty Johnston who hoisted it back into the area where Watson headed wide of the far post.
With half time approaching, Bruce McAdam came close to extending Newburgh’s lead when he met Ferguson’s cross on the volley and his side-footed effort from the 18-yard line curled just wide of the post.
Half-time: Newburgh 1, Arbroath Vics 0.
The rain, which had begun midway through the first period, was now extremely heavy as the sides came out for the second half, with the pitch, which had begun to cut up, going to make conditions difficult for both sets of players.
Vics, however, made a bright start to the second 45 minutes with Sturrock hoisting the ball into the box where Hester sent a header goalwards, but his effort was easily held by Houston.
In the 51st minute, Hester raced onto a Sturrock pass and took the ball beyond the keeper, who had raced yards outside his box, but his cut-back was hacked away for a throw-in by Honeyman before anyone in a Vics’ jersey could get on the end of it.
Five minutes later, Vics found themselves two behind when Johnston took the feet from McAdam in the box and STEVEN HARRIS stuck the resultant penalty into the opposite corner from which Cargill dived.
Vics lost their composure for a spell and Hester and Sturrock both picked up yellow cards before Newburgh extended their lead to 3-0 on the hour mark. Another free kick conceded towards the touchline allowed the ball to be whipped into the box and JAMES ROSS was given free reign to send a header down into the ground and bouncing beyond the outstretched arms of Cargill.
Continued on page 52