Thornton Hibs 2, Arbroath Vics 4
Vics crossed the River Tay for the second time in a fortnight to meet Fife opposition in the McBookie.com East Region North Division League.
They were the guests of Thornton Hibs who were celebrating their 100th birthday on Saturday, but Vics were to turn party poopers.
Craig Stephen switched to right back and, with Mark Fotheringham otherwise engaged in a charity cycle run, Ross Kenny came back into the starting line-up. Grant Mowatt, back from holiday, and Jake McWalter, recovering from injury, were given places on the bench alongside new signing Abdourahman Njie from East of Scotland side Lothian Thistle.
There was a novel entrance for both teams as they were piped on to the park to help celebrate the centenary of the host club. It was formed on August 30, 1913.
Once the preliminaries had been dispensed with, Vics won the toss and elected to play against the stong wind.
Despite playing into the wind, Vics took the lead with their first foray into the Hibs’ half in only the fifth minute. Craig Stephen sent a long throw in into the Hibs’ box which was headed on and GARRY WARREN stole in between the central defenders to steer a shot into the roof of the net from six yeards.
Hibs were soon back at the other end where they forced a corner. It led to a scramble in the box before the visitors managed to clear John Halley’s cross to safety.
Three minutes later, a Halley cross from the right saw Kris Maxwell ghost in at the near post but he could only direct his header wide.
At the other end, Craig Watson gathered a Matty Johnston throw and held off his marker before turning and firing a 20-yard shot past a post.
Alan Cormack then kept Vics in front with a smart stop low to his right, diving to save Andrew Adam’s effort after a Lee White throw in had been launched into the box.
A minute later, White got a wind-assisted free kick on target but Cormack got behind the ball and gathered on his goal line.
Hibs almost gifted Vics a second goal in 23 minutes when ‘keeper Mark Rowbotham was caught out of position when a Stephen throw in was helped into the box, but Willie Clark got back to snuff out the danger before Watson could get in a shot.
Soon after, good work on the left by Warren saw him chip the ball over the head of Clark to play in Kenny, but his cross was cut out by Rowbotham on the six-yard line.
Vics were again indebted to Cormack on the half-hour mark when Andrew Adam played the ball into the box for White to take it beyond Kevin Durno, only for the ‘keeper to dive and deflect the shot behind for a corner.
The Hibs’ pressure was increasing and following a series of corners they eventually drew level in the 33rd minute. Adam swung a flag kick to the far side of the box and ADAM DRUMMOND rose abover everyone to power a header into the net.
In a rare Vics attack they had half-hearted appeals for a penalty waved away when an Andy Cowan shot struck a Vics’ defender in the box. The home side continued to hold sway up to the interval but just when it looked as if Vics might hold out to go in level, the homesters grabbed the lead in the 44th minute.
Chris Ireland started the move by picking out Adam. He sent a lovely pass into the box for BARRY THOMSON to hit low into the far corner.
Half-time: Thornton Hibs 2, Arbroath Vics 1.
Despite now facing the elements, it was the home side which created the first chance of the second half. Vics failed to deal properly with an Adam corner and were relieved when Ian Shanks hooked a shot over his shoulder and over the bar.
A huge clearance from Cormack saw Watson head on for Kenny, but his shot drifted wide of the target as Rowbotham left his line to narrow the angle.
However, in 49 minutes the visitors were back on level terms. A promising move down the right looked to have fizzled out when the final cross was overhit, but Johnston kept the ball alive at the opposite touchline and crossed into the box where KENNY glanced a header into the net.
Within three minutes Vics were in front. Stephen sent Marc Walker away down the right and when he pulled the ball back across the face of goal, it accorded WATSON the easiest of chances to tuck it away from inside the six-yard box.
Hibs were struggling to deal with the wind and Vics’ attacks and when a Cormack clearance came off the head of a defender, it almost played Walker in. The number 10 was just unable to make proper contact and the ball ran behind off his studs.
The visitors were forced to make a change in 56 minutes when Watson came off second best in a 50-50 tackle and had to leave the field. He was replaced by Grant Mowatt.
On the hour mark, Vics looked set to increase their lead when Walker latched on to a Kenny through ball and rounded the ‘keeper, but he lost his footing as he prepared to shoot and a defender got back to clear the danger.
Two minutes later the Arbroath outfit made a second change when Njie came on to make his debut, replacing Walker.
The substitute was quickly involved, gathering a fine pass by Mowatt wide on the right before pulling the ball back for Cowan whose shot was smothered by the home ‘keeper.
Hibs came close to getting back on level terms in 66 minutes when Maxwell played the ball forward to Adam on the 18-yard line before taking the return and firing a shot inches over the bar.
The wind then almost helped Vics increase their lead when a Johnston free kick nearly deceived Rowbotham. The ‘keeper did just enough at the last second to flick the ball away for a corner.
Vics were well on top at this point and when Steve Florence sent the ball forward to Warren, he slipped it inside to Kenny who turned and fired in a shot that was angling towards the top corner until Rowbotham leaped high to save.
With just under 15 minutes left, Hibs made a double change in an effort to get back on level terms when Clark and White were replaced by Ian Main and Craig Craigie.
Despite that, it was Vics who looked more likely to add to the scoring and when Mowatt picked up a long ball from Stephen, he pulled it back for Njie whose shot found the arms of Rowbotham.
With 10 minutes left, the homesters were forced into a third change when Adam picked up a knock and was replaced by Greg Low.
Thornton almost got a break three minutes later when a Durno clearance cannoned into the path of Main, but the substitute dragged his shot across goal and wide of the target.
Vics sealed the points with a fourth goal in 88 minutes. Kenny and Warren combined to get the ball into the box where NJIE got in between ‘keeper and defender to bring it under control before rolling it into the net.
The late goal afforded Hibs little chance of clawing back the deficit although they did have an opportunity four minutes into stoppage time when they were awarded a free kick in fron of goal. However, Thomson blazed it over the bar just before the refereee brought proceedings to a close.
In a game of two halves, Arbroath Vics came good in the second period to spoils Hibs’ 100th birthday celebrations. They were worthy winners and are joint top of the table just behind Luncarty on goal difference.
Thornton Hibs - Rowbotham, Clark (Main, 77), Drummond, McGowan, Shanks, Adam (Low, 80), Halley, Maxwell, Ireland, White (Craigie, 77), Thomson. Unused substitute - Gay.
Arbroath Vics - Cormack, Stephen, Johnston, Cowan, Durno, Florence, Lawson, Kenny, Watson (Mowatt, 56), Walker (Njie, 62), Warren. Unused substitutes - McWalter, Whitton and Hutcheson, gk.
Referee - Mr C. Phillips, Kirkcaldy.
Vics are at home tomorrow (Saturday) when they play host to fifth-placed Forfar West End in a league match.
Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m.
150 Club winners this week were: £10, No. 27, Graham Lamond; £5, No. 58, Audrey Forbes.
McBookie.com East Region North League
P W D L F A Pts
Luncarty 5 4 0 1 19 5 12
Arbroath Vics 5 4 0 1 15 7 12
Dundee NE 5 3 2 0 9 4 11
Newburgh 5 3 1 1 13 9 10
Forfar WE 5 3 0 2 16 9 9
Kennoway S’ Hearts 5 3 0 2 12 10 9
Lochore Welfare 5 3 0 2 11 11 9
Downfield 5 2 2 1 16 7 8
Blairgowrie 5 2 0 3 11 9 6
Thornton Hibs 5 2 0 3 10 11 6
Forfar Albion 5 2 -0 3 9 20 6
Lochee Harp 5 1 2 2 7 10 5
East Craigie 5 1 1 3 8 10 4
Scone Thistle 5 1 1 3 8 13 4
Brechin Vics 5 1 1 3 3 9 4
Coupar Angus 5 0 0 5 3 26 0