Arbroath Vics 1, East Craigie 1
ARBROATH Vics were at home for the third successive week when they played host to league leaders East Craigie in a McBookie.com North Division fixture on Saturday.
There were two changes to the side that ended Forfar West End’s unbeaten run the previous week, with Matty Johnston replacing David McLeish and Garry Warren coming in for Colin Lawson.
The match was slow to get going with the first half chance falling Vics’ way in the seventh minute when Craig Watson hooked a Mark Fotheringham throw-in into the box for Andy Cowan but his shot was blocked behind for a corner. From the flag kick, East Craigie struggled to properly clear Warren’s cross and the ball eventually came out of the box to Kevin Durno, but the centre-half’s shot went high and wide.
Watson was then given a sight of goal when Grant Mowatt played the ball up the left to Warren who rolled it into his path, but his shot was weak and easily smothered by Shaun Logie on the penalty spot.
East Craigie were far from out of it and when Jon Snowden hoisted a cross into the box, Ross McFarlane got high above the defence to get on the end of it, but his header took a deflection and went across goal and wide of the opposite post.
Kieran Small then did well on the left before sending over a dangerous cross, which Craig Sturrock got a foot to, to take away from Ryan Welsh, and Craig Scrimgeour, following up, hit wide from around 20 yards.
In a Vics’ attack, Mowatt and Cowan combined to release Watson, but a well timed tackle just inside the box from Scrimgeour prevented him from getting his shot away. The ball rebounded back into the path of Cowan who drilled a shot over the bar.
The nearest to a goal came at the other end when a Snowden corner found the head of McFarlane and his header bounced down off the ground and beyond Hutcheson, only for Chris Simpson to head it off the line and behind for another corner kick.
Soon after a corner from Kieran Small on the opposite side had Vics in all sorts of bother, but Hutcheson managed to clear the danger by kicking the ball away from David Salisbury as he looked set to shoot.
Johnston was then yellow carded for scything down Welsh as he tried to make ground down the left wing.
East Craigie again came close when Small set off on a solo run and after getting the break of the ball, fired in a shot from distance, which Hutcheson was forced to dive to his left and push round the post.
With five minutes of the half remaining, Hutcheson collided with Welsh inside the box as he tried to clear a Scrimgeour through ball, but the referee waved aside East Craigie’s claims for a penalty as the ball ran behind for a goal kick.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 0, East Craigie 0.
In the first couple of minutes of the second half, McFarlane was caught dithering on the ball just outside his own box and eventually gave it away to Warren. That allowed the number 11 to make space for Mowatt to cross into the area for Watson to send a header spinning wide.
At the other end, a Snowden corner picked out Scrimgeour whose header deflected off Sturrock and over the bar.
The deadlock was almost broken in the 54th minute when Cowan sent Mowatt free down the right and he took the ball to the by-line before crossing into the box. Snowden attempted to chest the ball clear but only succeeded in setting up Watson whose header was brilliantly clawed off the line by Logie at full stretch.
Craigie were then awarded a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the box when Simpson was booked for pulling back Salisbury, but Snowden fired the resultant kick straight into the wall.
The best chance of the match so far came East Craigie’s way on the hour mark when a long ball out of defence deflected into the path of Salisbury, giving him a free run at goal, but he failed to get his shot beyond Hutcheson, the ‘keeper blocking his effort with his legs.
A great ball out of defence from Florence opened up East Craigie but when Warren pulled the ball back from the by-line, there was no one in a black and white shirt to take advantage and the ball drifted across the six-yard line and away.
Hutcheson then kept Vics on level terms when he dived to push a Welsh shot onto the post after an Adam effort had been blocked just inside the box.
Vics however, shrugged off that escape to take the lead in the 64th minute. Mowatt sent over a corner and ANDY COWAN arrived at the near post to bullet a header beyond Logie from six yards.
In the 72nd minute, Vics had reasonable claims for a penalty waved away when Mowatt appeared to be pulled back as he got into the box, but the referee waved play on as Logie gathered his shot.
A minute later, East Craigie made a double change when Greg Birmingham and Gordon Norrie came on for Paul Constable and Salisbury.
East Craigie then found themselves down to 10 men in the 75th minute when Scrimgeour was shown a straight red card as he contested a Kieran Small cross with Florence inside the Vics’ penalty area.
Further substitutions took place with Vics sending on Liam Campbell for Warren and East Craigie replacing Paul Allan with Greg Anderson.
Despite being down to 10 men, East Craigie were pushing Vics back as they sought an equaliser and Small wasted a good opportunity when he ballooned a free-kick high over the bar from just a yard outside the box.
An equaliser looked on the cards and it duly arrived in the 85th minute when Small curled a cross into the box from the left and RYAN WELSH stooped to glance a header beyond the dive of Hutcheson.
In the remaining five minutes, it was East Craigie who looked more like snatching a winner than Vics, but the final whistle sounded with both teams having to be content with a point apiece.
Vics maybe should have been able to see the game out, a goal up and with the visitors down to 10 men, but East Craigie deserved the point, which still keeps them top of the table.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, Johnston, Sturrock, Cowan, Durno, Florence, Mowatt, Fotheringham, Watson, Simpson, Warren (Campbell 78). Unused substitutes: Laing, Lawson and Duncan, GK.
East Craigie: Logie, Snowden, Allan (Anderson 81), Scrimgeour, McFarlane, Gray, Welsh, Adam, Constable (Birmingham 73), Salisbury (Norrie 73), Small. Unused substitutes: Low and Hart.
Referee: Mr. S. Traynor, Dundee.
Vics are out of town tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel to Dundee to meet Downfield in the league. Kick-off is at 1.45 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 11.45 a.m.
Winners this week were: £10 – No.87, Jordan Whyte; £5 – No. 43, Marc Walker.