ARBROATH Vics got the new season under way with a home match against Forfar Albion in Group B of the D.J. Laing League Cup on Saturday.
There were debuts for new signings, Lee Hutcheson in goal, Craig Stephen in midfield and Mark Fotheringham, having rejoined the club after a spell with Montrose Roselea.
Experienced striker, Kevin Steele, playing as a trialist, was also in the starting line-up. Nicky Smith, signed from Montrose, was given a place on the bench, while other new signings, Chris Simpson and Terry Gray were forced to sit out due to injuries picked up in pre-season fixtures.
Albion ‘keeper, Paul Findlay was the first to be tested when David McLeish sent in a low drive from around 20 yards, but it caused him little bother as he gathered it cleanly.
A long ball from deep inside his own half from Danny Smith almost set up Matthew Reynolds, but Steve Florence just did enough to hold him off and nod the ball back to Lee Hutcheson.
Vics almost sneaked into the lead in the ninth minute when a Steele cross into the box saw Danny McKenzie just fail to connect with his head, but it did enough to put Paul Findlay off and the ball curled just wide of the far post.
Vics ought to have taken the lead in the 18th minute when Findlay sent a goal kick straight to Steele, but he lofted his shot wide of the target as the keeper tried to close down the angle.
A good Vics’ move, started from deep inside their own half ended with Stephen sending a dangerous cross along the six-yard line, but there was no one up to take advantage and Doug Falconer had time to bring the ball under control before clearing his lines.
At the other end, former Vics’ player, Mark McIntosh sent a shot over the bar when he had more time than he perhaps realised to advance into the box.
McKenzie also dragged a shot wide for Vics before Steele picked up an ankle knock and was replaced by N. Smith.
Albion came close to taking the lead in the 34th minute when Robbie Hood sent Robbie Small racing down the left and his cross into the box found the head of Mark McIntosh who sent a header spiraling just over the bar.
Three minutes later, the deadlock was eventually broken and it was Vics who made the breakthrough. McLeish sent a corner into the box and MARK FOTHERINGHAM got in between the defenders to power a header into the net from six yards.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 1, Forfar Albion 0.
Albion were first to show after the break with Matthew Reynolds and Scott Ali combining to set up Matthew Morgan whose cross was headed clear by Kevin Durno. Reynolds was first to the loose ball but he fired his volley over the bar.
A strong surging run from McDowell took him clear of the Albion defence and down the right wing, but his cross was blocked on the six-yard line by D. Smith before Falconer knocked it behind for a corner.
McDowell then forced Findlay to dive low to his right to save a drive from 25 yards as Vics looked to add to their half-time lead.
Vics made their second change of the afternoon in the 60th minute when McKenzie was replaced by Ryan Owbridge.
The substitute was soon involved and was in the lead up to Vics increasing their lead a couple of minutes later. Matty Johnston sent Ryan Owbridge free on the right and although Findlay dived to push away his cut-back, he could only steer the ball towards FOTHERINGHAM who made no mistake from close range.
Albion made a change on the re-start, withdrawing Small and sending on Russell Stewart.
Both teams then made further changes, Albion sending on Darren Reid for D. Smith, who had twisted a knee and Vics replacing Stephen with Colin Lawson.
In the 80th minute, Albion made their third change when Graeme McLeish came on for Reynolds.
Vics looked as if they would comfortably see the time out, but with five minutes left, Albion were awarded a penalty when Florence was adjudged to have pulled McLeish back just inside the box. ALI crashed home the spot kick to set up a nervy last few minutes for Vics.
In the 87th minute, Durno hauled down McIntosh on the right hand edge of the box and when Hutcheson got a fist to the free kick, the ball fell for McLeish whose shot deflected behind for a corner off the leg of Johnston.
Deep into stoppage time another free kick gave Albion one final chance to salvage a draw, but Hutcheson managed to knock Ali’s cross away from Falconer, but he was left helpless as McIntosh sent the loose ball inches wide of the post before the referee blew for time up.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, Johnston, Florence, McLeish, Durno, Sturrock, McDowell, Fotheringham, McKenzie (Owbridge 60), Steele (N. Smith 32), Stephen (Lawson 71). Unused substitutes: Low and Cargill, gk.
Forfar Albion: Findlay, Hedge, Falconer, Smith (Reid 70), Morgan, Reynolds (McLeish 80), Ali, Hood, McIntosh, Plenderleith, Small (Stewart 63). Unused substitutes: MacDiarmid and Balfour.
Referee: Mr M. McIlvenny, Dundee.
Vics are away to Montrose Roselea, who drew with Blairgowrie in the other match in the section tomorrow (Saturday). Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. Players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.45 p.m.
A guest at Vics match on Saturday was former ‘keeper, Jim Mowatt, who is over from Australia visiting friends and family.
Jim signed for Vics in 1949 and was goalkeeper in their Forfarshire Cup final win over Lochee Harp at Dens Park on May 15, 1954. Jim played several seasons for Vics before doing his National Service. On National Service completion, he returned to Vics before moving senior with Forfar Athletic. Jim then emigrated to Australia in 1959, where he has remained ever since.
All at Vics were pleased to see him take time out to visit Ogilvy Park to see the present day team in action, since leaving Scotland over 50 years ago.
Winner of Vics’ £1,000 draw was Donald McKenzie. The winning ticket was drawn by Scottish international darts player Gary Anderson at the Fisherman’s Inn on Saturday evening.
Week one winners: £10 – No. 32, Kevin Malone; £5 – No. 158, Lee Ferrier. Drawn by Jim Mowatt.