ARBROATH came within a minute of recording their first victory of the season against runaway league leader Queen of the South at Gayfield on Saturday.
The Maroons took the lead in 81 minutes thanks to a superlative 20-yard piledriver by Euan Smith which whizzed across Queens ‘keeper Lee Robinson and into the net.
However, a rush of blood by Scott Morrison who raced from his charge in the final minute to collect a high cross into the box, but completely missed, gave Nicky Clark the easiest of tap-ins from only a few yards out.
Arbroath boss Paul Sheerin was philosophical about gaining one point instead of three. He said: “Scott Morrison has been brilliant since he came in and he had several great saves, especially the one at the end of the first half that kept us in the game.
“Goalkeeper is such an unforgiving position that when you do make a mistake you tend to suffer from it more often than not.
“I thought we were excellent today, especially in the second half. We had chances to score then Euan had a great strike which got our goal. Queen of the South never gave up, but that sums them up. Today their never say die attitude got them a really good point and that kicked us in the teeth a wee bit, because I thought we were worthy of the three points.
“However, we will take the positives from the match, and there were plenty of them. Euan had a great strike, but I wondered if he was ever going to hit it. He seemed to take forever but he caught it really well and to beat a ‘keeper of Robbo’s [Robinson] calibre takes some doing.”
The manager concluded: “We are improving as a squad, I think. The only thing is we are a wee bit thin. That is a slight issue that we will try to rectify, but we don’t want to bring players in just for the sake of it. We want to try and get the right type, and if we can do that we can then have a push for the fourth spot that everyone is vying for.”
Allan Johnston, Queen of the South manager, commented: “Arbroath games are always a tough test but I was really pleased that the boys kept going and we managed to get something out of the game. Today we did not hit the standard that we have shown all season. It doesn’t matter how the boys are playing, they think they can win and you could see that in their performance. They just keep on going.
“Arbroath did really well today. Every time we have faced them they have made it really difficult for us and they gave us another hard game today.”
The visitors had the first shot at goal in three minutes after Clark was brought down by Baxter. However, Mitchell blasted the free kick over the bar. Then Carmichael showed his skill, weaving through the home defence but his low drive was smothered by Morrison.
At the other end, Holmes collected a cross inside the Queens’ penalty box but spent too long on the ball and was dispossessed.
The visitors pushed forward again and Morrison came to Arbroath’s rescue when he palmed away a Reilly effort, but the rebound fell to Burns whose drive was saved on the line by Baxter.
In 13 minutes, Robinson was called into action and did well to collect a fierce drive by Smith after good work on the right by Baxter.
As the half-hour approached, a Mitchell flag kick for the visitors was headed away by Baxter but the ball fell kindly for Burns who knocked it wide to Lyle but he blasted his effort over the bar. Another Lyle effort brought out the best in the home ‘keeper moments later and he kept his side in contention with a great double save, first from Mitchell then from Burns.
Two minutes from the break Clark broke through the home rearguard before blasting in a powerful shot but Morrison spread himself wide and somehow deflected the goalbound shot away.
Half-time: Arbroath 0, Queen of the South 0.
The first real change of the second half fell to Reilly who drove in a low shot but was off target.
Then Sheerin dispossessed a defender and drove for goal but his effort was well saved by Robinson. Moments later Smith tried a long-range effort but the Queen’s ‘keeper collected easily.
Only a brilliant reflex save by Robinson prevented Arbroath from opening their account on the hour mark. Holmes collected a cross from the left and from only six yards out blasted a shot towards goal but somehow the ‘keeper got enough of a touch to deflect the ball away.
Four minutes later the visitors brought on Holt for Trialist and a minute later Travis was yellow carded for a foul. Then Queen of the South replaced Reilly with Paton to inject pace up front. Arbroath also made a substitution with Bayne coming on for Holmes.
The visitors made their third substitution in 77 minutes when K. Smith replaced Lyle.
In 81 minutes, the Maroons finally got the goal they deserved. E. SMITH collected the ball in midfield and raced forward for 10 yards before unleashing a swerving drive which hurtled across Robinson and in at the far post.
Moments later, Mitchell had his name taken for a two footed tackle on Hamilton. Then a great save by Morrison denied the visitors an equaliser after E. Smith headed the ball away.
But Queen of the South were not to be denied and deep into injury time Morrison came from his line to collect a dangerous high cross into the box, but totally missed it and the ball was headed wide to NICKY CLARK who had an easy tap in to the empty goal.