Arbroath Vics 4, Forfar Albion 1
HAVING won away to Blairgowrie with a depleted pool the previous week, Arbroath Vics were in better shape when they entertained Forfar Albion in the league on Saturday.
Steve Florence and Lee Jones both returned to the starting line-up, while other absentees, Garry Warren, Craig Sturrock, Kevin Durno and Ryan Low were all included on a strong bench alongside Gavin Norrie.
Despite that, it was the Forfar side who took a surprise lead in the fourth minute. There seemed little danger when PAUL WALKER picked the ball up just over the halfway line, but he set off on a solo run, which took him into the box, where he placed a shot beyond Steve Reid.
Vics responded with David McLeish sending the ball up the left to Ryan Owbridge who pulled it back for Lee Jones to set up a, shooting chance for Scott McDowell, but his shot was charged down just inside the box.
Ten minutes later, Danny Smith hooked a Lee Jones free kick behind for a corner as McDowell tried to get on the end of it.
A minute later, Owbridge saw a downward header, following a Jones corner, bounce up off the ground and beyond goalkeeper Stuart Gordon, but his effort was cleared off the line.
Vics continued to press and Owbridge again got his head to the ball inside the Albion box, this time from a Florence free kick, but on this occasion he could only direct it over the bar.
McDowell was next to try his luck with a header, but his glancing effort slipped wide of the post.
As Vics’ frustrations grew as they failed to break down a stubborn Albion defence, Jones found himself yellow carded for dissent.
In the 26th minute, a tremendous block from Rory Crighton prevented Vics from getting back on level terms, the right-back getting his foot to the ball to prevent Jones from netting inside the six-yard box.
Despite having had most of the pressure, Vics almost found themselves two down in the 37th minute when Matthew Reynolds broke away down the right and cut into the box where he unleashed a fierce drive which Reid did well to get hands to and beat away for a corner.
Before the corner could be taken, Craig Anderson and Matty Johnston were both booked following a spat between the two of them.
Despite Vics having most of then play they couldn’t find a way through the Albion defence, and five minutes before the interval, they were almost caught out again. Walker sent Mark McIntosh away down the left and he darted into the box to take the return where his shot was deflected behind for a corner. From the flag kick, Dougie Falconer got on the end of Reynolds cross and his header just cleared the bar.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 0 Forfar Albion 1.
Vics made a double change at the start of the second-half, replacing Colin Lawson and Danny McKenzie with Warren and Craig Sturrock. This resulted in McLeish moving into midfield and Sturrock slotting in at left-back.
Before Vics had time to settle, Albion had another chance to add to their lead. Reid allowed a Walker free kick to break from his grasp and although McDowell nodded the ball back out of the box, Darren Reid headed it back goalwards and Florence was called upon to clear the return off the line with Reid out of position.
The two near attempts seemed to waken Vics up and Jones saw a header blocked inside a packed box after Warren had raced down the left and provided the cross.
Gordon then pulled off a tremendous save to deny Sturrock, leaping to tip a blistering 20-yard drive over the bar following a fine move involving McLeish, Jones and Warren.
Anderson then passed up a golden opportunity; nodding wide with only the keeper to beat after Jones had headed a McLeish cross into his path.
Vics’ pressure eventually paid off with the equaliser arriving in the 58th minute. Warren gathered a Sturrock throw-in and cut along the by-line before pulling the ball back for CRAIG ANDERSON to turn into the net from around eight yards.
Less than a couple of minutes later, Vics moved in front. The move again came down the left with Warren and Sturrock combining to cross into the box, where LEE JONES netted at the second attempt after his initial shot had been blocked.
Vics were well on top at this stage and only a tremendous tackle inside the six-yard box prevented Scott McDowell from increasing their lead.
Albion made a change in the 72nd minute when Gary Markie came on to replace the tiring Walker.
Two minutes later, Vics increased their lead to 3-1 with a tremendous goal. Sturrock headed the ball on to Jones who flicked it into the path of GARRY WARREN who let fly with a 25-yard shot that flew high into the postage stamp corner.
With the points all but sealed, Vics made their third change of the afternoon when Kevin Durno came on for McDowell.
Owbridge had a chance to put Vics further in front when Jones knocked a Warren cross into the box, but his first-time shot cleared the bar.
Anderson then shot wide from good position before in a rare Albion attack, Robbie Hood picked up a loose ball in midfield and ran on before firing a shot just over.
With five minutes left, Vics extended their lead to 4-1. Stuart Richardson supplied the cross into the box, which LEE JONES nodded on to Owbridge before taking the return and drilling a low shot into the back of the net.
Smith picked up a booking, presumably for dissent, before play re-started as Vics overturned a half-time deficit to run out comfortable winners and move back up the table into third place.
Arbroath Vics: Reid, Richardson, McLeish, McDowell (Durno 78), Johnston, Florence, Lawson (Sturrock 46), Anderson, Owbridge, Jones, McKenzie (Warren 46). Unused subs: Norrie, Low and Duncan, gk.
Forfar Albion: Gordon, Crighton, Plenderleith, Smith, Falconer, Hood, Reynolds, Reid, Taylor, McIntosh, Walker (Markie 72). Unused sub: Stewart.
Referee: Mr K. Beats, Finavon.
Vics are again at home in the league this Saturday when they play host to East Craigie. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m.