Vics’ hopes are dashed by Blair’ who hit three in first half

Blairgowrie 5, Arbroath Vics 1

Arbroath Vics were on the road at the weekend when they travelled to Davie Park to meet Blairgowrie in their final league fixture of 2013 on Saturday.

Manager Jake Ferrier made one change to the side that shared six goals with Thornton Hibs the previous week; Ross Kenny coming into the starting line-up at the expense of Colin Lawson.

Trialist Ricki Gillespie kept his place in the starting 11, while Craig Watson was fit enough to claim a seat on the bench after being sidelined for a lengthy spell with a groin injury.

Blairgowrie started in the best possible fashion by taking the lead with a well worked goal in the third minute. Ryan Menzies sent the ball out wide to Darren Neave on the left, and when he crossed towards the 18-yard line, Danny Millar teed it up for RYAN MENZIES to drill a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner beyond the reach of Lee Hutcheson.

At the other end, Mark Fotheringham nodded on a Johnston pass before taking the return and sending a shot just wide of O’Brien’s right hand post.

Hutcheson was then called into action, being forced to race from his area to head away from Steven Findlay. This led to Vics breaking to the other end with Grant Mowatt cutting in from the left, but O’Brien deflected his shot round the post for a corner with his legs. From the flag-kick, Cowan headed Mowatt’s cross across the box where Kenny stabbed it wide at the far side.

Despite that, Blairgowrie doubled their lead in the 19th minute. Johnston attempted to play a crossfield pass from the right out to the left, but it was intercepted and MENZIES took full advantage by drilling it into the far corner of the net.

Three minutes later, Blairgowrie all but wrapped up the points with a third goal. Menzies picked out AXWORTHY on the right and he cut inside Grant Mowatt before sending a shot into the same bottom corner as Menzies a few minutes earlier.

With things going against them, Kevin Durno found his name in the referee’s book for a spot of dissent.

As if to prove it wasn’t to be Vics day, they were denied by the woodwork in the final minute of the half when Johnston unleashed a thundering drive, which beat the flailing arm of O’Brien, but crashed back off the bar.

Half-time: Blairgowrie 3, Arbroath Vics 0.

Blairgowrie made a change at the start of the second half when Graeme French came on for Neave.

If Vics thoughts of grabbing an early goal in attempt to get back into the match were foremost in their mind as the home side got the second half underway, they were dispelled within 30 seconds when Blairgowrie scored a fourth. The ball was played out to Axworthy on the left and when his cross carried over the head of Florence, PAUL MALONEY fired an unstoppable volley high into the corner of the net.

Vics did try to respond with Sturrock picking out Abdourahman Njie a couple of minutes later, but the striker’s header was straight at the ‘keeper.

Blairgowrie weren’t to be denied and in the 52nd minute, AXWORTHY fired in a free kick from distance, which Hutcheson got a hand to, but was unable to prevent from finding the net to put the home side 5-0 ahead.

Johnston picked up a booking a minute later before he and Gillespie were replaced by Lawson and Jake McWalter.

O’Brien was called into action when McWalter sent over a low cross from the right, the ‘keeper diving out to gather before Njie could get on the end of it on the six yard line.

Further yellow cards were administered to Mowatt and Fotheringham as frustration began to set into Vics’ ranks.

Vics made their third change of the afternoon in the 66th minute when Craig Watson came on for Mowatt.

A minute later, Vics came close to pulling goal back when Kenny saw a shot beat O’Brien only for Greg McDonald to clear off the line and the ball run straight into the arms of the grounded ‘keeper inside the six yard box.

Seconds later, Kenny got on the end of a Lawson cross to get in a downward header, but O’Brien was down smartly to smother it on the line.

With the points long since secured, Blairgowrie made a double substitution in the 73rd minute when James Simpson and Tovey made way for Mark McColl and James Hay.

Vics were again out of luck in the 75th minute when another goal line clearance preserved Blairgowrie’s clean sheet. Watson battled his way into the box and when O’Brien blocked at his feet, the ball broke into the path of Njie whose shot was cleared off the line by the outstretched leg of McColl at the expense of a corner. From the corner, Watson got on the end of McWalter’s cross but the ‘keeper dived low to his left hand post to gather it on the line.

Lawson then made ground down the right before taking the return from Kenny and drilling a shot over the bar.

As Vics enjoyed their best spell of the match, Watson sent a 19-yard shot curling just wide with O’Brien beaten.

In the 83rd minute, Vics were left to carry on with 10 men when Fotheringham picked up his second booking of the afternoon for a trip on Greme French, leaving the referee no option but to send him off.

Vics kept playing to the end and with the last kick of the match grabbed a consolation goal when WATSON turned in an Njie cross in the 90th minute.

The match was all but over inside the first 25 minutes, by which time the home side were 3-0 ahead. Vics did create chances, particularly in the second half, but by then the game had well and truly run away from them and it was a disappointing end to the year.

Blairgowrie: O’Brien, Simpson (Hay 73), McDonald, Tovey (McColl 73), Brash, Neave (French 46), Axworthy, Millar, Maloney, Menzies, Findlay. Unused sub: Gellatly.

Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, Johnston (Lawson 55), Sturrock, Cowan, Durno, Florence, Mowatt (Watson 66), Fotheringham, Njie, Kenny, Gillespie (McWalter 55). Unused sub: Warren.

Referee: Mr. K. Graham (Perth).

Tomorrow’s match

Vics get the New Year under way with a home match against Scone Thistle in the league tomorrow (Saturday). Kick-off is at 1.30 p.m.

150 Club

Winners this week were: £70 – No. 55, Terry Milne; £30 – No. 38, Owen Bryce; £15 – No. 106, Jake McWalter; £15 – No. 98, Neil Hardie; £10 – No. 21, Craig Watson; £5 – No. 136, Lee Ferrier.