Arbroath Vics 2
HAVING exited the East of Scotland Cup at the hands of Dundee North End the previous week, it was back to league business for Arbroath Vics on Saturday with a trip to Davie Park to meet Blairgowrie.
There were three changes to the starting line-up with Paul Tosh, Chris Simpson and Garry Warren all reinstated and Matty Johnston, Craig Watson and Mark Fotheringham dropping down to the bench.
Vics very nearly made an early breakthrough when Simpson won the ball in midfield and played it on for Craig Stephen to release Warren who set off in pursuit of goal, but a timely sliding tackle from Rorry Ramsay prevented him from getting near the box.
Stewart Sheed carved out Blairgowrie’s first opening, taking the ball down the left and crossing into the box for Paul Maloney, but Steve Florence came across to make the block and the ball rebounded back off the Blairgowrie number nine and behind for a goal kick.
Gordon O’Brien was then put under pressure following a Ramsay throw-in; the keeper just managing to kick clear before Chris Simpson could get a touch.
Soon after, Warren breached the Blairgowrie defence to run on to a through ball, but despite getting his shot beyond Gordon O’Brien, his angled drive flew across goal and wide of the far post.
Five minutes later, a mis-hit Steven Findlay shot landed kindly in the box for Maloney, but he was ushered wide by Florence and could only direct his effort into the side net.
Simpson again showed tenacity to win the ball in midfield before releasing Mowatt through a square looking Blairgowrie rear-guard, but O’Brien stood his ground to get a touch to the shot before preventing it from running out for a corner.
In the 25th minute, a Warren free kick found the head of Simpson and although his header went away from goal, it landed at the feet of Stephen who curled an 18-yard drive just over.
Five minutes later, the lively Gary Axworthy found his name in the referee’s book for disputing an offside decision.
Lee Hutcheson was then forced to make his first real contribution to the afternoon when he held on to a Steven Findlay shot low down after the Blairgowrie player had picked up a Greg McDonald cross and turned inside the area to get his effort away.
Within a minute, Vics were at the other end forcing a corner and when Warren’s flag kick dropped at the far post, Tosh got in a shot, which O’Brien got a fingertip to, to divert it over.
Mowatt then had a chance to give Vics the lead when he was played through by Tosh, but just like Warren earlier in the half, he dragged his shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
In the 40th minute, the deadlock was broken and it was the home side that made the breakthrough. Stewart Sheed made ground down the left before sending the ball into the box where AXWORTHY gathered it before turning to send a low shot beyond Hutcheson from around 12 yards.
Blairgowries’s joy was short-lived as within a couple of minutes, Vics were back on level terms. Simpson won a tackle in the middle of the park before sending Stephen through on goal. Despite appearing to be impeded as he entered the box, Stephen managed to keep his feet and cut the ball back for MOWATT to drill a shot into the back of the net from 18 yards.
Half-time: Blairgowrie 1, Arbroath Vics 1.
Vics were first to show after the break when Mowatt evaded several tackles on a run down the right before drilling a cross along the six-yard line, but Gordon Pirie got a foot to it to turn it behind for a corner.
Blairgowrie responded with Maloney picking up a loose ball in midfield and advancing to drill a shot from distance just wide of Hutcheson’s left-hand post.
Tosh put Vics back on the attack playing the ball down the right where Mowatt and Stephen swapped passes before the final shot was charged down inside the box.
Mowatt was causing the Blair rearguard plenty of problems down the right and from another of his runs; he set up Simpson whose shot was partially blocked by O’Brien with Pirie clearing the loose ball as it ran towards goal.
Simpson then returned the compliment by playing in Mowatt, but yet again Pirie was in the right place to clear the ball away.
In the 58th minute, Blairgowrie made a change when Ramsay made way for Andy Murison.
Two minutes later, Vics stole in front courtesy of an outrageous goal from PAUL TOSH who picked up the ball in midfield and sent an audacious chip from almost 25 yards over the head of the ‘keeper, who had strayed a few yards off his line, and into the back of the net.
Blairgowrie immediately made a second change on the restart when Danny Millar replaced Graeme French.
The home side went forward in search of an equaliser and David McLeish had to keep his wits about him to nod an Axworthy cross behind for a corner with McDonald challenging to get on the end of it at the back post.
Hutcheson then made an instinctive save to beat away a close range header from Sheed on the line, following yet another Axworthy cross to preserve Vics’ lead.
Midway through the half, Simpson was yellow carded for going in late on Findlay before Sheed saw a shot deflected behind for a corner.
Vics were unfortunate not to increase their lead in the 73rd minute, when Andy Cowan got on the end of a Warren free kick only to see his volley strike the back of Simpson and spin past the post when it looked to be on target.
Soon after, Vics replaced Cowan with Fotheringham before Florence was booked for a foul on Axworthy.
Blairgowrie then passed up a great chance to get back on level terms when Pirie came charging into the box to get on the end of an Axworthy corner, but despite being given a free header, the centre-half failed to find the target, sending the ball well wide.
Vics made further changes as the clock ran down with Liam Campbell replacing Warren and Craig Watson taking the place of Simpson before Findlay saw yellow for dissent.
In the final minute, Watson almost snatched a third for Vics when he burst through the Blair defence and tried to chip O’Brien, but this time the ‘keeper got a hand to the ball to prevent it from finding the target.
Despite there being only one goal in it, Vics were deserved winners over the 90 minutes against difficult opponents who never made it easy for them, although Vics saw out the last quarter of the match reasonably comfortably.
Blairgowrie: O’Brien, Ramsay (Murison 58) Nicoll, Hood, Pirie, McDonald, Findlay, Sheed, Maloney, French (Millar 61), Axworthy. Unused subs: Harris, Hay and Cowan.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish, Sturrock, Tosh, Durno, Florence, Mowatt, Stephen, Simpson (Watson 85), Cowan (Fotheringham 76), Warren (Campbell 81). Unused subs: Lawson and Johnston.
Referee: Mr. S. McBurney (Broughty Ferry).
Vics are back at home tomorrow (Saturday) when they play host to Brechin Vics in a league fixture. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m.
This week’s winners were: £10 – No. 39, Marc Walker; £5 – No. 146, Jock McGurk.
McBookie.com East North League
P W D L F A Pts
Dundee NE 14 9 2 3 43 18 29
Kirrie Thistle 11 9 1 1 35 12 28
Downfield 16 9 1 6 41 32 28
East Craigie 14 8 2 4 34 24 26
Blairgowrie 14 8 0 6 27 22 24
Arbroath Vics 13 7 2 4 37 25 23
Montrose Roselea 12 7 1 4 34 14 22
Forfar West End* 13 9 0 4 31 23 21
Lochee Harp 12 2 2 8 16 31 8
Brechin Vics 15 2 1 12 26 47 7
Forfar Albion 12 2 1 9 19 52 7
Coupar Angus 14 1 1 12 12 55 4
*Forfar WE deducted 6 points for playing unregistered players