REPORT: Arbroath beat Cowdenbeath to close gap on League Two leaders

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Arbroath manager Dick Campbell rewarded all Lichtie supporters with the perfect early Christmas present as his team defeated Cowdenbeath 2-0 to close the gap on league leaders Forfar Athletic.

Central Park survived an early pitch inspection as the threat of Storm Barbara failed to materialise.

Although Cowdenbeath went into the match propping up the league, there would be no doubt they would have Arbroath’s full respect after defeating the Lichties earlier in the season in the Irn Bru Cup.

Striker Josh Skelly, who has been revelling recently in a wide role, smashed a free kick off the Cowdenbeath bar in only the third minute after Bryan Prunty was fouled at the edge of the box.

With a strong gale behind them, the Lichties took full advantage as they kept the pressure on the home defence with Prunty and Doris both coming close to the opening goal.

It was 19-year old-Skelly’s desire to attack at every opportunity which sawanother one of his right footed strikes beat McGurn only to strike the bar for the secondtime in 16 minutes.

Arbroath keeper Ricky Gomes enjoyed a quiet first half but was soon called upon in the second half as his touch was enough to deny Kris Renton as a cross flew across the box.

Colin Hamilton had a header cleared off the line, before his defensive partner Ricky Little came to the rescue with a clearance of his own as Renton thought he had scored.

Arbroath Captain Mark Whatley played a pivotal role in the opening goal as he robbed Kyle Miller before releasing Skelly who fired a right foot shot past McGurn to give the LIchties the lead in the 74th minute.

Arbroath’s goal seemed to knock the home side as they struggled for a reply with the Lichties coming close to their second goal with a Kader flick and a Hamilton header.

Skelly was involved again as his curling left foot cross was brilliantly steered into the net by Doris as the striker stretched his body while sliding in at the back post to beat McGurn from the tightest of angles to seal the points for the Lichties.

Josh Skelly was elated with the win, saying: “I’m enjoying playing out wide, I’m happy playing anywhere because it’s been difficult to get in the team as the boys have gone on a great run.

“I’ve got a jersey now and the gaffer’s told me I need to work hard to keep it.

“I don’t think I’ve hit a better free kick in my career and it’s hit the bar, the second is my right foot and those can go anywhere but it’s hit the bar as well.

“The goalie should’ve done better for my goal but a goal is a goal, and it helps us. They crumbled a bit and we got the second to seal it. Doris has done well for his goal, he’s right on the stretch at the back post and managed to score.”