Coupar Angus 2, Arbroath Vics 3
ARBROATH Vics were back on league duty on Saturday when they travelled into Perthshire to meet Coupar Angus.
Paul Tosh and Colin Lawson were both recalled to the starting line-up at the expense of Andy Cowan, who was ill, and Craig Stephen, who dropped down to the bench.
The match got under way in heavy rain on a gluepot of a pitch, which was barely playable with mud and pockets of water squelching under the surface.
Vics carved out a decent opening in the second minute when Steve Florence played the ball out of defence to Mark Fotheringham who released Garry Warren up the left. The winger whipped a cross into the box, but ‘keeper Marc Mackie dived out from his line to claim the ball inside the six-yard box before anyone could reach.
At the other end, Ben Middleton played the ball up to Robbie Shepherd who tried his luck with a shot from distance, which took a deflection and was gathered by Lee Hutcheson.
A mistake by Kevin Durno, trying to play the ball out of defence when he should have cleared his lines, presented Shepherd with another chance a minute later, and this time Hutcheson was forced to parry it away before it was eventually scrambled behind for a corner.
A promising Vics’ move saw Grant Mowatt and Lawson combine to set up Chris Simpson who rolled the ball back for Fotheringham, but his attempted chip on the run drifted over the bar.
Coupar pushed forward again and a Greg Ryder cross found the head of Shepherd at the back post, but his header was blocked and eventually came back off his body and rolled behind for a goal kick.
Vics were showing more purpose however and eventually took the lead in the 16th minute. Simpson gathered the ball in before laying it back for PAUL TOSH to drill a low shot just inside the post from around 23 yards.
Two minutes later, Vics scored again. Tosh was the architect this time, flighting a cross into the box, which came off the head of David Gorman, allowing Warren to clip it back across the face of goal where DAVID McLEISH arrived to head it back into the opposite corner beyond the reach of Mackie.
Mowatt then took possession of a Fotheringham through ball and slipped beyond his marker, but his chip from just outside the box was held under the bar by Mackie.
Just when it looked as if Vics would go on and add to their two goal lead, Coupar Angus reduced the deficit in the 27th minute. Hutcheson made a poor attempt at clearing a pass-back and sent the ball straight to DALE KENNEDY who wasted little time in curling a shot back beyond him from 25 yards.
Three minutes later, Vics were awarded a penalty when Gorman inexplicably stuck out a hand to block a Mowatt chip into the box, earning himself a yellow card. Mowatt stepped up to take the kick, but Mackie blocked his shot with his legs and the ball flew behind for a corner.
Despite that, Vics continued to have most of the play and Durno, twice, and Sturrock came close increasing their lead but half-time arrived without any alteration to the scoreline.
Half-time: Coupar Angus 1, Arbroath Vics 2.
Vics pushed forward on the restart and a surging run down the left from Sturrock saw him whip a cross into the box, which was just too strong for Simpson to get his head on and the ball flew out for a throw-in at the corner flag.
With only one goal in it, however, Vics were susceptible to any Coupar attack and when Shaun Conway picked up a loose ball in midfield, he should have done better than shoot wide of the target with the defence backing off.
Tosh put Vics back on the front foot, breaking forward before playing the ball across to McLeish who sent a first time effort on the run just wide.
Warren came close in Vics’ next attack when he battled his way into the box only to see Mackie dive and nick the ball off his toes before he could get in a shot.
In the 62nd minute, Coupar stunned Vics by drawing level. A long free kick from inside their own half was hoisted up towards Vics 18-yard line and ROBBIE SHEPHERD tried his luck with a first time shot, which sailed into the top left-hand corner.
Within a minute, Vics were almost back in front when Tosh fired in a 30-yard free kick which just missed the target by inches with Mackie rooted to his line.
In the 65th minute, both teams made a change. Coupar replaced Adam Guthrie with Gary Mackie, while Vics sent on Craig Watson for Simpson.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Coupar pushed forward in search of a third and Jamie Matheson was given time and space to advance forward and fire off a shot, which fortunately for Vics went nowhere near the target.
Vics made a further change in the 65th minute, when Craig Stephen was introduced for Warren.
Lawson sent a drive from distance just wide before Coupar made a second substitution when Andy Torrance replaced Shepherd.
With 15 minutes left, Vics edged themselves back in front. Mowatt sent CRAIG WATSON away and he held off the attentions of Middleton before beating Mackie with a shot, which took a slight deflection on its way into the net, for his 20th goal of the season.
Three minutes later, Vics made their third change of the afternoon when Liam Campbell came on for Lawson.
A good ball out wide from Shaun Conway created a chance for the home side when it was picked up by Jamie Matheson on the left and his driven cross needed a smart intervention from Hutcheson, diving inside the six-yard box to claim it before Andy Torrance could get on the end of it.
As the 90 minutes neared, Watson got on the end of a Stephen cross, but he couldn’t get sufficient power on his header and Mackie was able to claim it under the bar.
Vics were then almost caught out in stoppage time when a long throw-in from Matheson found its way to the feet of Dale Kennedy who fired in a shot, which Hutcheson had to dive and push behind for a corner.
The resultant flag kick came to nothing and Vics were able to hold on for the points.
Despite a far from vintage display against the team at the foot of the table, Vics did enough over the 90 minutes to earn the points, but they made hard work of it in the extremely heavy conditions. The win, however, takes Vics into fourth place and within three points of league leaders, Dundee North End.
Coupar Angus: Mackie, Ryder, Matheson, Middleton, Gorman, Conway, Hill, Guthrie (Mackie 65), Kennedy, Shepherd (Torrance 73), Mitchell. Unused substitutes: Scrimgeour, Miller and Gunning, g/k.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish, Sturrock, Tosh, Durno, Florence, Mowatt, Fotheringham, Simpson (Watson 65), Lawson (Campbell 77), Warren (Stephen 65). Unused substitutes: Smith, Stewart and Walker.
Referee: Mr. M. McIlvenny, Dundee.
Vics are again away from home tomorrow (Saturday) when they head north to meet Montrose Roselea in the league. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.45 p.m.
Winners this week were: £10 – No. 76, Coleen Dall; £5 – No. 12, Matty Johnston.
McBookie.com East North League
P W D L F A Pts
Dundee NE 15 10 2 3 47 19 32
Downfield 17 10 1 6 48 33 31
Kirrie Thistle 13 9 3 1 39 16 30
Arbroath Vics 15 9 2 4 42 27 29
East Craigie 15 9 2 4 37 25 29
Montrose 14 8 2 4 43 17 26
Blairgowrie 16 8 1 7 30 26 25
Forfar WE* 14 10 0 4 34 25 24
Brechin Vics 18 3 1 14 30 56 10
Lochee Harp 13 2 2 9 17 35 8
Forfar Albion 14 2 1 11 21 59 7
Coupar Angus 16 1 1 14 15 65 4
*Forfar WE deducted 6 points for playing unregistered players