FOR THE first of their three away fixtures to conclude the season, Arbroath Vics were the guests of Kirrie Thistle in a league match on Saturday.
Stuart Richardson and Lee Jones both returned to the starting line-up, having missed out the previous week. Vics were forced to make a further change shortly before the kick-off when David McLeish injured himself in the warm up and Scott McDowell was drafted in from the bench.
When the match did get under way, it didn’t take the home side long to get their noses in front, scoring after only three minutes. Paul Cooney and Jonny Watson did the spade work moving the ball forward for Joe Farquharson to whip over a cross, which DAVID MILLAR swept into the net.
Another good Kirrie move had Vics on the back foot with Garry Smith and Cooney working the ball up the right for Phil Donaldson and when the full-back pulled it back for Farquharson, he blasted a shot just over the bar.
It took Vics 12 minutes to get within sight of the Kirrie goal when Ryan Owbridge won possession just inside his own half before feeding the ball forward to Garry Warren, who let fly with a shot, which was deflected behind for a corner.
Steve Reid was then called into action as Kirrie broke quickly to the other end, with Watson and Millar making ground up the left to let in Farquharson, whose shot from a tight angle was diverted over the bar by the Vics’ ‘ keeper at his near post.
In the 21st minute, Vics hauled themselves back on level terms. Craig Anderson won a tackle on the halfway line which resulted in him finding Gavin Norrie in midfield. He in turn sent the ball wide to G. Warren and when he pulled it back inside, LEE JONES crashed an unstoppable 25-yard drive into the back of the net.
Kirrie had a chance to regain the lead six minutes later when Craig Sturrock gave away a free kick at the corner flag and when Donaldson crossed into the box the unmarked Cooney sliced his shot over the bar.
The home side were forced to make a change in the 29th minute when Smith hobbled off to be replaced by Derek Paterson.
A searching cross from out wide on the left by Farquharson then eluded Reid as it sailed towards the back post, but fortunately for Vics, Ally Scott’s header cannoned off the keeper’s head and out for a corner.
Despite that, Vics failed to deal with the resultant flag-kick and despite having more than one chance to clear their lines were unable to do so DAVID GORMAN profited sweeping a shot from 19 yards beyond everyone inside the box and into the net.
Anderson then found his name in the referee’s book for taking the feet away from Cooney who was also yellow carded for retaliating.
With a couple of minutes of the half remaining, Kirrie were reduced to 10 men and Vics were back on level terms for the second time in the match. Cooney picked up his second booking for a foul on Anderson and from Norrie’s free-kick, RYAN OWBRIDGE rose highest to glance a header out of the reach of Hutchison.
Half-time: Kirrie Thistle 2, Arbroath Vics 2.
Having been forced to make a change at the start of the first half, Vics had to make a change again before the second half commenced, with Reid unable to continue and Chris Cargill taking over in goal.
The first chance of the second period came Vics way inside the first minute when Kevin Durno broke forward from defence and took a return pass from Jones, but his volley went wide of the target.
Despite being down to 10 men, Kirrie still looked comfortable on the ball and when Paterson broke free on the right, Casey should have done better than shoot wide at the back post.
Sturrock was yellow carded for a foul on Scott as Kirrie attacked again and when Donaldson’s free kick bounced around the box, the pressure was only relieved when Scott fired the ball into the side-netting.
Watson was the next player to be booked for a trip on Durno before Vics called Chris Hutchison into work, the ‘keeper diving to save at the feet of McDowell inside the box after Norrie had slipped a pass through the Kirrie defence.
Vics again pushed forward with Owbridge, G. Warren and Jones working their way into the Kirrie box, but from a tight angle, Hutchison managed to block Jones’ shot away for a corner at the near post.
Kirrie made a second change in the 77th minute when Connor Birse came on for Casey.
A minute later, Kirrie edged back in front. Paterson and Millar broke forward to set up a chance for Donaldson whose shot was blocked on the penalty spot. However the ball bounced straight into the path of JONNY WATSON who crashed a ferocious shot into the back of the net.
Vics made a second change themselves a couple of minutes later, when Danny McKenzie was sent on for Anderson.
As Vics pushed forward in search of an equaliser, Millar had a great chance to seal the points for Kirrie when a quick break left him with only Cargill to beat, but he failed to get his shot on target.
Despite that, Kirrie wrapped up the points with a fourth goal in the 85th minute when DEREK PATERSON finished off a fine move by sweeping the ball beyond Cargill from around 12 yards.
The scorer was yellow carded as he made his way back to the restart for over doing the celebrations, before Kirrie wound down the clock by sending on Marc Ogg for Scott.
A miserable afternoon for Vics got worse when they were left to play out the last couple of minutes with 10 men when Norrie was shown a straight red card for a wild tackle just inside his own half.
Kirrie Thistle: Hutchison, Donaldson, Anderson, Gorman, Farquharson, Watson, Scott (Ogg 87), Smith (Paterson 29), Cooney, Casey (Birse 77), Millar. Unused substitutes: Hume, Petherick, Taylor and Khan.
Arbroath Vics: Reid (Cargill 46), Richardson, Sturrock, Johnston, Durno, Norrie, McDowell, Anderson (McKenzie 79), Owbridge, Jones, G. Warren. Unused substitutes: Lawson, Brown and D. Warren.
Referee: Mr S. Leslie, Brechin.
Vics are away to Coupar Angus in their penultimate league match of the season tomorrow (Saturday). Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.15 p.m.
Vics are holding their annual presentation night in the Fisherman’s Inn on Saturday evening, commencing at 7.30 p.m. Anyone wishing to come along will be made welcome.
Winners this week were: £70 – No. 50, Lauren Anderson; £30 – No. 71, Eddie Forbes; £15 – No. 115, Irene Robertson; £15 – No. 74, Bob Mutch; £10 – No. 38, Kevin Laing; £5 – No. 32, Kevin Malone.