Arbroath Vics 2, East Craigie 1
HAVING been out of town the previous two weeks, Arbroath Vics were back at home on Saturday, playing host to East Craigie in a league fixture.
Lee Hutcheson returned in goal, replacing Chris Cargill, while further changes from the side that lost away to the league leaders, Dundee Violet, the previous week saw Matty Johnston and Terry Gray back in the starting 11 at the expense of Craig Sturrock, suspended, and Ryan Owbridge who was listed as substitute.
Vics were first to threaten when Gray sent over a cross in the first minute, which Greg Anderson headed out of the box, but when it was turned back in by Garry Warren, Gray tried to head it back to a colleague instead of towards goal and the Craigie defence managed to scramble the ball away.
Shaun Logie then had to look lively, diving low to his right to smother a 25-yard drive from Craig Watson after Matty Johnston had sent a long ball over the top of the visiting defence.
As Vics continued to enjoy the better of the opening exchanges, Gray intercepted a wayward pass in midfield and sent Warren away up the right, but Blair Mudie got back to turn his cut-back behind for a corner at the near post.
East Craigie responded and almost grabbed the opening goal with their first clear cut chance in the 12th minute. Anderson rose above the Vics’ defence to get on the end of a Kieran Small corner and his header was cleared off the line by Stephen with Hutcheson beaten.
A similar move, this time from a free kick on the opposite side of the pitch, again saw Anderson get above the defence to reach Small’s cross, but on this occasion, the centre-half couldn’t get his direction right and his header drifted wide of the post.
Midway through the half, Gray was noted in the referee’s book for pulling Darren Gray back in midfield.
Five minutes later, the Craigie defence failed to deal with a long throw from Gray and the ball landed at the feet of Mark Fotheringham who wheeled round to send in a shot, which Logie got down to save on the line.
Vics continued to have the advantage of possession and they were rewarded with the opening goal in the 37th minute. A slack pass in midfield from Keith Chalmers saw the ball come off the leg of Fotheringham, which was enough to send WATSON away and the striker fired a low shot from 23 yards into the corner of the net, which Logie got a hand to, but was unable to keep out.
East Craigie then had a let-off when McLeish picked out Stephen on the right and after his initial cross was blocked; his second found Gray whose close range effort was somehow blocked by Logie. The ball bounced around the six-yard box with Vics having further chances to turn it in, before it rather fortuitously rebounded back into the arms of the ‘keeper off Watson.
However, with the last play of the half, Vics doubled their lead. Gray launched a long throw into the box, which Warren headed back into the middle and FOTHERINGHAM was on the spot to nod the ball over the line from close range.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 2, East Craigie 0.
East Craigie showed more urgency at the start of the second period and when Keith Chalmers threatened to break through, Kevin Durno was forced to make a timely interception, his clearance cannoning off the number eight and behind for a goal kick.
Vics made an early change in the second period when Owbridge came on for Watson in the 51st minute and Craigie followed suit three minutes later, sending on Connor Adam for Sam McDonald.
Another long throw from Gray posed problems for the visiting defence, but again Logie made the save, getting his body behind McLeish’s shot, which took a deflection on its way through.
Small then made ground up the left and sent a low cross in towards the near post, which Paul Constable got his toe to, but could only direct wide.
However on the hour mark, East Craigie’s spell of pressure brought them a goal back. Hutcheson failed to deal with Steve Florence’s pass-back and CONSTABLE nicked the ball off his toes to run it into the empty net.
Yet again, Gray had the Craigie defence in all sorts of bother with a long throw and when the ball was only partially cleared; Chris Simpson cracked a volley wide from outside the box.
Vics thought they had increased their lead in the 65th minute when Fotheringham, Owbridge and Stephen all combined to set up Warren who slipped the ball beyond Logie, but he was guilty of pushing Mudie before releasing the shot and the ‘goal’ was disallowed.
Anderson then body checked Owbridge as he raced towards goal, which resulted in both players having to leave the field for treatment to facial injuries. From the free kick, Gray got in a shot, which Logie tipped over after McLeish’s initial attempt had rebounded into his path.
Although Owbridge was able to return to the fray, Anderson wasn’t so lucky and he was replaced by Paul Allan three minutes later.
Vics should have extended their lead in the 75th minute when a fine move down the right carved open the Craigie defence leaving Craig Stephen with a clear sight of goal, but from just inside the six-yard box, he somehow contrived to shoot over the bar with the goal gaping.
East Craigie then made their third change in the 77th minute when Gordon Norrie was thrown on for Chalmers.
Five minutes later, a Mudie throw-in was helped across the box to Constable, but fortunately for Vics, the striker could only direct his header into the arms of Hutcheson.
Vics replied and had another chance to make the points safe when Logie blocked a close range effort from Owbridge and Simpson turned the rebound over the bar.
With four minutes left, a wonder save from Hutcheson kept Vics in front when Norrie got on the end of a Small cross to power in a header from point blank range, but the ‘keeper threw up his hands to push it onto the bar, and it rebounded down before being hastily cleared.
Craigie threw everything forward in the closing stages and had claims for a penalty waved aside deep into stoppage time when McLeish grappled with Constable inside the area with the ball elsewhere, but the referee wasn’t interested and the final whistle sounded second later.
Having lost the corresponding fixture in Dundee and an East of Scotland Cup tie to East Craigie, Vics did enough to deserve victory on this occasion and had chances to make sure of the points before Craigie came close in the closing stages of the game to snatching an equaliser.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish, Johnston, Simpson, Durno, Florence, Stephen, Fotheringham, Watson (Owbridge 51), Gray, Warren. Unused substitutes: Lawson, Smith and Cargill, gk.
East Craigie: Logie, Mudie, Gordon, Etchells, Anderson (Allan 70), Gray, McDonald (Adam 54), Chalmers (Norrie 77), Constable, McFarlane, Small. Unused substitutes: Low and Snowden.
Referee: Mr. M. Ritchie (Arbroath).
McBookie.com East North League
P W D L F A Pts
Violet 16 14 1 1 61 14 43
Roselea 17 12 3 2 45 12 39
Dundee NE 17 11 4 2 43 19 37
KirrieTh. 17 9 1 7 42 21 28
Arbroath V. 18 8 4 6 33 34 28
East Craigie 15 7 4 4 37 28 25
Lochee Harp 17 6 2 9 31 46 20
Brechin Vics 17 6 0 11 30 57 18
Blairgowrie 16 4 3 9 26 31 15
Forfar Albion 17 1 5 11 23 44 8
Coupar Angus 17 0 1 16 20 86 1
TOMORROW (Saturday), Vics are away to Forfar Albion in a league fixture. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.45 p.m.