Ogilvy Park men second best in thrilling season opener

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East Craigie 4, Arbroath Vics 3

HAVING beaten Forfar Albion comprehensively to reach the semi-final of the D.J. Laing League Cup last week, Arbroath Vics got their league campaign under way with an away fixture against East Craigie in the McBookie.com North Division on Saturday.

Manager Jake Ferrier made two changes to the starting 11 with Matty Johnston and Mark Fotheringham both being handed starting places at the expense of Danny Smith, who was unavailable, and Ryan Owbridge who dropped down to the bench.

The home side were the first to threaten when Kieran Small whipped over a cross from the left, which Ryan Welsh couldn’t get a proper touch to, but the ball broke into the path of Sam McDonald who blazed wildly over the bar when he should have at least brought Lee Hutcheson into action.

At the other end a Liam Campbell cross caused confusion between goalkeeper Shaun Logie and Kieran Small, but the ‘keeper recovered in time to boot the ball out for a throw-in before Garry Warren could reach.

East Craigie responded with Connor Adam threading a pass up the right for McDonald to chase, but Hutcheson was quickly out of his box to kick clear.

With only 12 minutes gone, the home side’s early pressure was rewarded with the opening goal. Welsh picked out DAVID SALISBURY with a forward pass into the box and his shot beat Hutcheson and had crossed the line before Kevin Durno could reach.

Durno then picked up a booking after East Craigie were awarded a free kick, although it appeared a little harsh as he was yellow carded for kicking the ball back to where the free kick had been awarded.

The centre-half was again in the thick of the action turning behind a Connor Adam free kick at the back post, which Hutcheson failed to reach. From the flag kick, Darryl Gowans got on the end of Small’s cross but he failed to get his header on target, the ball drifting wide of the upright.

Vics weathered a spell of pressure and eventually pulled themselves level in the 17th minute. Colin Lawson sent the ball forward to GRANT MOWATT who still had a bit of work to do, but he hunted the ball down before making space to drill a shot high into the roof of the net.

Three minutes later, Mowatt nodded a Hutcheson clearance on for Warren to swing over a cross from the left and Small headed it back across the face of goal where Adam was relieved to nod it behind for a corner. From the corner, the ball was only partially cleared and Chris Simpson got a head to Johnston’s cross, but he failed to get enough on it and Shaun Logie was able to dive and save.

Midway through the half, Vics took the lead. Another Warren corner picked out the run of Liam Campbell, and although his header might not have been going in, GOWANS did the needful, the ball cannoning off him and into the back of his own net.

East Craigie were far from out of it and after a Small cross just dipped over the bar at the far post, they were back on level terms in the 30th minute. Brian Scrimgeour swung a cross towards the far angle of the box, and DALE HART made space to curl a low shot just inside Hutcheson’s left-hand post.

Within a minute, East Craigie were almost back in front when Salisbury met a Small cross on the volley and his shot crashed back off the bar. McDonald was first to the rebound but headed over.

Play swung back to the other end and Campbell stung the hands of Logie with a long-range drive, which the keeper did well to palm away.

An entertaining half ended with Mowatt gathering the ball in midfield and forcing Logie into another fine save, which the ‘keeper dived low to his right to turn behind for a corner.

Half-time: East Craigie 2, Arbroath Vics 2.

The home side were first to show after the interval when Welsh played the ball into the box for McDonald who took the ball wide of Hutcheson, but from a tight angle his low cross into the middle was cleared away by Craig Sturrock.

Sturrock then popped up at the other end before his run was halted by a trip from Hart, but Warren’s cross from the resultant free kick was poor and easily dealt with by the Craigie defence.

East Craigie made a change in the 53rd minute when Greg Birmingham came on for McDonald.

Mark Fotheringham got on the end of a Warren free kick from the corner flag, and although his header struck the hand of Gowans, Vics’ half-hearted appeals for a penalty were waved aside.

A minute later, Vics found themselves a man down when Durno grabbed a hold of Salisbury as he tried to break clear and he was shown a second yellow card and sent off. Adam swung in the free kick, but it was easily held by Hutcheson.

To accommodate the departure of Durno, Sturrock switched to central defence with Campbell dropping back to left-back.

Hutcheson was forced into action on a couple of occasions as East Craigie tried to make their numerical advantage count, but he had little difficulty in holding on to the long range efforts, which both came from Greg Birmingham.

In a Vics’ foray, Johnston and Simpson combined to play Lawson into the box, but he was crowded out before he could get in a shot and the ball ran behind for a goal kick.

A mistake from Campbell allowed Birmingham to play Salisbury in, but the striker wasted the opportunity by ballooning a shot high over the bar.

With just over 20 minutes left, Vics made a double substitution, sending on Ryan Owbridge and Marc Walker for Warren and Lawson.

Simpson advanced into the box soon after, but Logie was out smartly, diving to save at his feet before he could get away a shot.

With 74 minutes on the clock, Craigie regained the lead. Vics failed to clear a Small corner any distance and when Salisbury drove the ball back into the box, McFARLANE rose high above the defence to score with a header at the back post.

Before play restarted, Craigie made their second change of the afternoon, when Daniel Low came on for Welsh.

Vics responded in the best possible manner by drawing level within four minutes. Fotheringham won a header in midfield, which allowed Simpson to send MARC WALKER away and the substitute should composure to curl a shot beyond Logie from just outside the box.

A dangerous cross from Small almost picked out both East Craigie substitute’s, but a vital touch from Sturrock allowed him to glance a header away from the incoming pair.

Fotheringham was yellow carded for upending Gray in the 86th minute as he tried to break forward from midfield.

It looked as if the match was to end in a draw, but two minutes into stoppage time, East Craigie grabbed a winner. Vics failed to deal with a Salisbury cross and the clearance form Craig Sturrock only succeeded in finding HART who sent it first-time low inside the post.

Having to play 35 minutes with 10 men proved just a little too much for Vics as the last gasp goal denied them what would have been a well earned point in the circumstances.

Teams:

East Craigie: Logie, Adam, Small, McFarlane, Gowans, Scriomgeour, Welsh (Low 75), Gray, McDonald (Birmingham 53), Salisbury, Hart. Unused subs: Allan, Small and Anderson.

Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, Johnston, Sturrock, Lawson (Owbridge 69), Durno, Florence, Campbell, Simpson, Mowatt, Fotheringham, Warren (Walker 69). Unused subs: Laing and Duncan, gk.

Referee: Mr. S. McBurney, Broughty Ferry.

Tomorrow’s match

Tomorrow (Saturday), Vics are away to Kirrie Thistle in the semi-final of the D.J. Laing League Cup. The match was scheduled to take place last midweek, but was postponed twice, due to a waterlogged pitch.

Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.30 p.m.

150 Club

Winners this week were: £10 – No. 57 George Williams. £5 – No. 117 Willie Fotheringham.