Kirrie Thistle 2,
Arbroath Vics 2
FOR THEIR first match of the New Year, Arbroath Vics travelled to Westview Park to meet Kirrie Thistle in a league fixture.
Vics kept faith with the same 11 that hit six past Forfar Albion in the last game of 2012, looking to exact revenge for the defeats in the semi-final of the D.J. Laing League Cup and the corresponding league fixture at Ogilvy Park at the hands of Kirrie.
The first half chance of the game came Vics way when Craig Sturrock played the ball up to Garry Warren before accepting the return and sprinting down the left, but his cross was overhit and sailed over the bar.
At the other end, Robert Smith picked up a loose ball and fired off a shot from distance, but it too suffered the same fate as Sturrock’s effort a couple of minutes before.
Kirrie began to settle into the game more than Vics and when James Russell curled a dangerous free-kick into the box, Steve Florence had to be alert to get a foot to the ball on the six-yard line to clear from Gary Archibald.
As Kirrie upped the tempo, Shaun Taylor played the ball into Paul Cooney who wriggled through the defence before getting off a shot, but a slight deflection on his effort allowed Hutcheson to make the save.
Vics had a real let-off in the 11th minute when Hutcheson miscued a pass-back straight to Stewart Russell on the 18-yard line, only for the ‘keeper to redeem himself by diving to push away his shot. Ross Sievwright followed up to tap in the rebound, but he was in an offside position when the original shot was blocked and it was immediately disallowed by the referee.
Soon after, a Sturrock through ball broke into the path of Warren, but he was forced along the 18-yard line and eventually crowded out before he could get his shot away.
In the 38th minute, the deadlock was eventually broken and it was Vics who made the breakthrough. David McLeish sent Watson away down the right and when he fired the ball across the box, MOWATT crashed a shot in off the outstretched hand of the ‘keeper and the underside of the bar.
Four minutes later, Vics extended their lead to 2-0. Johnston hit the ball deep into the Kirrie half where Warren played in Watson, whose shot was deflected just wide of the far post. From the resultant corner, Fotheringham bulleted in a header, which Stewart brilliantly clawed away, but as the ball bounced around in the six-yard box, COWAN pounced to turn it over the line.
Half-time: Kirrie Thistle 0, Arbroath Vics 2.
An early mistake by Fotheringham inside the opening few minutes of the second period allowed James Russell to gain possession and make for goal, but he was upended by Johnston just a few yards outside the box before he could shoot. Smith fired in the resultant free kick, which Hutcheson did well to smother on the line, before the referee awarded Vics a foul as the Kirrie forwards piled in trying to reach the ball.
Fotheringham was again involved this time playing the ball into the Kirrie box for Watson to chase. Stewart got to the ball first, but the ‘keeper spilled it and was grateful to see Robbie George bail him out by clearing it away.
The first yellow card of the afternoon was shown to Gary Archibald for a nasty challenge on Warren and Johnston followed him into the book for getting involved as the referee dealt with the tackle.
In the 59th minute, Kirrie made a change when Cooney was replaced by Fraser Smith.
Kirrie were then slightly fortunate to have 10 men still on the field when George pulled back Fotheringham as he ran onto a McLeish pass on his way towards the box, but the referee felt a yellow card was sufficient punishment and Vics could make nothing of the resultant free kick.
The home side were far from out of it and it required a good save from Hutcheson to prevent them from pulling a goal back in the 65th minute; the ‘keeper springing to his left to push a Taylor effort behind at the near post.
Midway through the half, Kirrie made a second change when Ross Lunan came on for Stewart Russell.
Play continued to ebb and flow and after Scott Russell headed a Warren cross away from Watson, Kirrie broke quickly to the other end where Lunan scuffed a shot wide following a corner.
Vics almost extended their lead in the 72nd minute when Watson got his head to a Mowatt corner and the ball bobbled along the line with a couple of players trying to force it over before the ‘keeper dived on it. Again, like Kirrie’s effort in the first half, the ball might have gone over, but it would have been impossible for the referee to see.
Kirrie immediately broke to the other end and reduced the deficit. Stewart’s clearance was helped across to Farquharson and although Hutcheson blocked his shot, SIEVWRIGHT rammed home the loose ball.
Before play restarted, Fotheringham was booked for a trip in the lead up to the goal and Laing came on for McLeish.
It was all square a couple of minutes later when Kirrie grabbed a goal out of the blue. There seemed little danger when the ball was played inside to JAMES RUSSELL 25 yards from goal, but he drilled a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner with Hutcheson unable to prevent it from finding the net.
Cowan and Sturrock were both booked for dissent, before Warren was replaced by Craig Stephen; the substitute making his first appearance since breaking his foot on the opening day of the season.
Vics found themselves under mounting pressure as Kirrie sensed a winner and Sievwright did well to make space on the edge of the box to clip the ball across for Lunan lurking at the back post but fortunately for Vics he sent his header wide of the target.
Despite that, Vics had a great chance to claim all three points late on when Simpson chased down George and won the ball, but with only the ‘keeper to beat he shot wide of the post.
There was still time for Kirrie to race to the other end from the goal kick, where Smith played in Taylor, but a slight deflection and a fingertip from Hutcheson helped the ball round the post.
Deep into stoppage time another Kirrie corner saw Sievwright get in a glancing header from James Russell’s cross, but the ball flashed inches over the bar
In an entertaining game to get the New Year under way, with no quarter asked or given, both teams could claim they had chances to win all three points, but in the end they had to settle for a point apiece.
Kirrie Thistle: Stewart, Taylor, George, Scott Russell, Smith, James Russell, Cooney (Smith 59), Archibald, Farquharson, Sievwright, Stewart Russell (Lunan 66). Unused subs: Millar, Farquharson and Barclay.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish (Laing 74), Sturrock, Cowan, Johnston, Florence, Mowatt, Fotheringham, Watson, Simpson, Warren (Stephen 77). Unused subs: Lawson, Walker and Duncan, g/k.
Vics are given a break from league football this Saturday when they travel to meet East Craigie in the first round of the G.A. Engineering Cup. Kick-off is at 1.30 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 11.45 a.m.
Winners this week were: £10 – No. 144, Steve Donald; £5 – No. 118, Lorraine Hodson.
McBookie.com East North League
P W D L F A Pts
Downfield 13 8 1 4 34 22 25
Dundee NE 11 7 2 2 25 15 23
Kirrie Thistle 9 7 1 1 29 11 22
Forfar WE* 10 9 0 1 26 11 21
East Craigie 11 6 2 3 27 19 20
Montrose 11 6 1 4 31 13 19
Blairgowrie 11 6 0 5 19 19 18
Arbroath Vics 11 5 2 4 31 23 17
Lochee Harp 10 2 1 7 13 25 7
Brechin Vics 11 2 0 9 22 35 6
Forfar Albion 10 2 0 8 16 36 6
Coupar Angus 12 0 0 12 8 52 0
*Forfar WE deducted six points for playing unregistered players