Arbroath Vics 1, Lochee Harp 1
Arbroath Vics were at home for the first time since a 2-0 win over Brechin Vics in early February, when they played host to Lochee Harp in the league on Saturday.
Manager Jake Ferrier made changes to the side that lost 3-0 away to Kennoway Star Hearts the previous week, two of which were enforced.
Goalkeeper Lee Hutcheson concussed the previous week was forced to sit out, while a broken nose sustained at work sidelined Garry Warren. Jack Whitton took over in goal, while there were recalls to the starting 11 for Kevin Durno, Steve Florence and Craig Watson.
Lochee Harp were without suspended pair Brad Millar and Stephen Williamson.
Vics won the toss and elected to play against the strong, swirling wind, which was blowing down the pitch towards the St Vigeans end of the ground.
Despite facing the elements, Vics made a lively start when Craig Stephen sent Abdourahman Njie down the right and his cross ended with Ross Kenny and Andy Cowan both having shots blocked before the ball ran through to goalkeeper Darren Brown.
Three minutes in Stephen and Njie again combined down the right before the latter pulled the ball back for Craig Watson, but his shot was deflected and broke back off the striker and ran behind for a goal kick.
Vics’ tendency to lose early goals came back to haunt them again in the sixth minute. Harp broke from a Vics’ attack with Sam McDonald sending DOMINIC BLAIR through on goal and the number 11 drilled a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner.
Harp came close to increasing their lead in the 10th minute when Jonathan McBride picked up a Craig Paterson throw-in midway inside Vics half before sending a wind assisted drive beyond the reach of Whitton, but his curling effort crashed back off the post.
At the other end, Mark Fotheringham released Njie and his cut-back from the right by-line was met by Cowan, but he dragged his first-time shot round the post.
The away side had a further chance to increase their lead in the 18th minute when Dominic Blair was pushed over just outside the “D” but Jonathan McBride failed to test Whitton by sending the resultant free kick well wide of the target.
Cowan had a chance to pull Vics level a couple of minutes later when he was played in on goal by Kenny, but he lashed a shot high over the bar from just outside the box.
A minute later, Watson was allowed to run through from a suspiciously offside looking position, but he failed to take advantage by shooting wide of the post.
In the 30th minute, a poor clearance from Whitton, following a Durno pass back saw him send the ball only as far as McDonald. The striker picked out Blair inside the box, but Steve Florence managed to avert the danger by blocking his shot on the penalty spot.
Watson found himself in the referee’s book soon after when he used his hands to try and turn a Sturrock corner into the net as the ball sailed over his head.
Another Sturrock corner in the 40th minute saw Watson come charging in to get his head to the cross but his header flashed wide of the post.
On the stroke of half-time, however, Vics got back on level terms. Sturrock was impeded midway inside the Harp half and when Stephen delivered the free kick into the box, the ball broke from a cluster of players, and CRAIG WATSON reacted quickest, wheeling round to slam a shot beyond Brown.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 1 Lochee Harp 1
Vics very nearly edged in front within a minute of the re-start when Sturrock chipped a pass over the Harp defence into the box, and Watson arrived at the back post, but could only divert it wide with his outstretched leg.
Harp were far from out of it however and Greg Anderson sent a header just wide of the far post after McBride had picked him out with a cross.
Paul Allan then sent a free-kick from distance into the box, which Whitton spilled, but Vics eventually cleared the danger before anyone in a yellow jersey could capitalise.
Kenny tried his luck with a low 25-yard shot as Vics responded, but again it was wide of the mark.
Watson then passed up a good opportunity for Vics when, following a good passage of play, Sturrock swung a cross towards the near post, but the striker headed wide when he would at least have been expecting to get it on target.
A minute later, Kenny almost made the breakthrough when he fired in a free-kick after Njie was fouled just outside the box, but Brown was equal to the task, diving across his line to push the ball away.
Midway through the half, Harp made a change sending on Kieran Dack for Michael Gormley.
Five minutes later, Fotheringham was yellow carded for a foul on McBride, before Vics made a triple substitution, withdrawing Johnston, Cowan and Watson and replacing them with Grant Mowatt, Colin Lawson and Chris Simpson.
Despite that, it was Harp who carved out the next chance when McDonald sent Dominic Blair racing in on goal, but Whitton did well to block his initial shot before turning the rebound behind for a corner.
With 10 minutes left, Harp made their second change of the afternoon when McBride made way for Steven Fotheringham.
In the 87th minute, Mowatt passed up Vics’ last chance to grab the points when a long ball out of defence from Kevin Durno released him, but he dragged his shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
Harp came closer to snatching the win in the final minute when McDonald broke through Vics’ defence and it required a good save from Whitton, diving low to his right to push his shot onto the post and behind for a corner. The danger still wasn’t over as from the flag-kick, Ryan McKillen nodded down Dack’s cross into the box and McDonald got in a shot, which Stephen cleared off the line to ensure the match ended all square.
It was a disappointing showing from Vics, who might have been expected to take the three points, but even with the wind in the second-half, they rarely worked Darren Brown in the away goal, and but for a fine save and a goal-line clearance in the final minute, it might have been Harp who headed home with a win.
Arbroath Vics: Whitton, Stephen, Sturrock, Cowan (Lawson 70), Durno, Florence, Johnston (Mowatt 70), Fotheringham, Watson (Simpson 70), Njie, Kenny. Unused subs: McWalter and Hester.
Vics are on their travels again tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel to Foxhall Park to meet Coupar Angus in the league. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and transport leaves Ogilvy Park at 12.30 p.m.
Winners this week were: £10 – No. 131 Steve Dall; £5 – No. 99 Diane Christie.
McBookie.com East North League
Dundee NE 25 19 4 2 98 27 61
Star Hearts 21 14 1 6 73 36 43
Blairgowrie 22 14 1 7 62 33 43
Luncarty 20 12 1 7 62 39 37
Newburgh 18 10 6 2 62 28 36
Downfield 17 10 4 3 39 24 34
Forfar WE 20 10 2 8 52 35 32
Arbroath Vics 22 8 5 9 50 58 29
Scone Thistle 21 9 2 10 46 59 29
Lochore 18 8 4 6 37 38 28
Thornton Hibs 18 8 2 8 54 40 26
East Craigie 20 8 1 11 49 38 25
Brechin Vics 22 6 2 14 25 52 20
Lochee Harp 21 5 3 13 43 56 18
Forfar Albion 25 4 0 21 31 116 12
Coupar Angus 18 0 0 18 10 114 0