Arbroath Vics 2, Lochee Harp 2
HAVING been without a fixture the previous week, Arbroath Vics played host to Lochee Harp in a league match at Ogilvy Park on Saturday.
Kevin Durno and Craig Stephen, both absent from the previous outing a fortnight ago to East Craigie, returned to the starting line-up as did Matty Johnston.
Harp very nearly got an early assist thanks to the referee when a Kevin Durno clearance struck the official and ran into the box for Steven Williamson who curled a shot just wide of the far post, probably as much to the whistler’s relief as it was to Vics.
Despite that, Vics controlled the early stages of the match and Terry Gray sent a 20-yard drive inches over the bar after Craig Watson had won an aerial joust with Scott Tovey inside the box to nod a Johnston through ball back into his path.
Vics had great chance to open the scoring in the ninth minute when Gray curled in a free kick from just outside the box after he had been upended. Although goalkeeper Darren Brown got across his line to block it, he spilled the ball into the path of Ryan Owbridge, but from close range, the striker played the ball back into the arms of the ‘keeper.
As Vics continued to press Harp back, Watson sent a header looping over the bar from a Craig Stephen corner.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 22nd minute when Vics took the lead. David McLeish sent Watson away up the left where he got to the ball before the ‘keeper and sent a shot across the face of goal. Owbridge kept the ball alive by retrieving it from the by-line and when he sent it back into the middle, no one had tracked WATSON’S run and he threw himself headlong to send a header into the unguarded net.
Harp responded briefly with James Mullen playing the ball into the box for Matthew Ramsay but despite getting his shot away, it caused little problem for Chris Cargill who saved easily.
Mullen and Mark Kelly then worked their way down the right and Chris Cargill was called upon to grab the former’s cross under the bar as he was challenged in the air by Williamson.
Despite that, Vics had most of the play and it came as no surprise when they increased their lead in the 32nd minute. A long throw-in from Gray caused problems for the Harp defence and STEPHEN took full advantage by rifling a shot into the roof of the net from 10 yards.
Vics continued to dominate the remainder of the half, but in the 43rd minute they found themselves down to 10 men when Johnston was shown a straight red card for showing his studs in a challenge with Kelly.
The referee wasn’t finished with his paperwork as James Mullen was yellow carded for pulling back Gray before the half came to a close.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 2, Lochee Harp 0.
Harp made two changes at the start of the second half with veteran defender Bobby Brown replacing Scott Tovey in defence and Steven Fotheringham taking over in goal from Brown who had picked up a knock in the first half.
The visitors looked a different side after the half-time break and only a timely intervention from Danny Smith prevented Darren Ferguson from getting on the end of a Williamson pass.
Within five minutes of the re-start, Harp reduced the deficit. Danny Milne and Matthew Ramsay worked the ball across to FERGUSON, who drilled a low 20-yard shot into the bottom right hand corner.
A couple of minutes later, Vics made a change when Sturrock replaced Watson who was struggling with a knock.
Mark Christison then played a long ball out of defence, which almost picked out Frank Mullen, but Durno got across to prevent him from getting in a shot before Sturrock cleared the ball out of the box.
Harp then wasted a good opportunity when they were awarded a free-kick just outside the box, but Williamson failed to trouble Cargill by sending it high over the bar.
Vics did break forward in the 70th minute when Fotheringham and Gray combined to release Sturrock but he was given offside as he beat the ‘keeper to the ball outside the box.
Stephen then got free down the right and fired a dangerous ball across the face of goal, but it just eluded Fotheringham and ran behind for a goal kick.
The second half was a replica of the first in reverse with Harp on top and Vics had a huge let-off in the 74th minute. Kelly, Williamson and Ferguson all combined to work the ball forward to David Taylor on the 18-yard line and he wheeled round to send in a shot which struck the inside of the post. Mullen was first to the rebound and turned it over the line but his joy was shortlived as the referee disallowed it indicating he had been in an offside position when the ball rebounded back to him.
Both teams made further changes with Vics sending on Colin Lawson for Owbridge and Harp replacing Ferguson with Kenny Boyle.
Durno and Kelly then both found their names entered in the referee’s book for dissent before Harp grabbed a deserved equaliser in the 83rd minute. Kelly saw a corner eventually land back at his feet and when he crossed into the box the second time, his cross picked out Mullen whose shot struck the post. Vics failed to react to the rebound and there was no reprieve for them this time when WILLIAMSON knocked it into the net.
Williamson was yellow carded a couple of minutes later when he hauled Steve Florence back as he tried to start a Vics’ attack from deep inside his own half.
Vics however had fallen right out of the game and Harp might even have grabbed a winner in the 88th minute when a Taylor free kick bounced around the six-yard box before Vics managed to clear the danger following a goalmouth scramble.
That proved to be the last chance, although Gray was added to the list of bookings deep into stoppage time.
Vics looked to be coasting to a win at the interval, holding a two goal lead, but having to play the second period with 10 men gave Harp added impetus and with Vics unable to hold onto their advantage, Harp were deserving of a draw in the end.
Arbroath Vics: Cargill, Johnston, Durno, Gray, Smith, Florence, Stephen, Fotheringham, Watson (Sturrock 52), Owbridge (Lawson 75), McLeish. Unused substitutes: Campbell, Warren and Duncan, gk.
Lochee Harp: Brown (Fotheringham 46), Kelly, Milne, Tovey (Brown 46), Christison, Mullen, Mullen, Taylor, Williamson, Ferguson (Boyle 75), Ramsay. Unused substitutes: McAulay, Stark, Harris and Millar.
Referee: Mr. S. Leslie (Brechin).
Tomorrow (Saturday), Vics are away to Blairgowrie in a league fixture. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.15 p.m.
Winners this week were: £10 – No. 120, Lorraine Hodson; £5 – No 91, Jim Shepherd.