ARBROATH Vics were again on league duty on Saturday when they travelled to Beechwood Park to meet Lochee Harp.
Craig Watson was given a starting place up front, while Kevin Durno moved back to his more accustomed role in central defence. With Craig Sturrock reverting to left-back, Kevin Laing dropped down to the bench.
The home side had a 100 per cent record in the league so far this season and it was anticipated that a close game would be in prospect.
However, Vics almost took the lead in the third minute when Craig Stephen broke down the right and cut into the box, but the ball took a bobble just as he shot and his drive flew over the bar.
Despite that it took the visitors only a couple more minutes to open the scoring. Stephen picked up the ball in midfield and played it through the defence for RYAN OWBRIDGE, who spotted goalkeeper Darren Brown advancing off his line and he beat him all ends up with a chip over his head from the edge of the area.
Harp’s first attack saw centre-half Steven Fotheringham work the ball upfield to Stephen Williamson on the 18-yard line. Despite the number 10 being closed down, he managed to work the ball back out to Fotheringham on the left and his cross to the far post was headed behind by Barry Goodhall.
The home side came even closer in the 11th minute when Michael Fairfield was given time and space inside the box to curl in a shot, which fortunately for Vics came back off the bar and Williamson lashed the rebound high over.
The woodwork came to Vics’ rescue again a minute later. Mathew Ramsay ran at the heart of the Vics’ defence and fired in a drive, which Lee Hutcheson was forced to dive full length and beat away. The ball eventually went out for a throw-in but when Michael Fairfield’s throw picked out the run of James Mullen, his shot was finger tipped onto the bar by Hutcheson.
At the other end, Stephen intercepted a crossfield pass midway inside the Harp half and raced forward, but his cross dropped over the bar without troubling the ‘keeper.
With 25 minutes gone, Vics doubled their advantage. Kevin Durno played a pass through the Harp defence for Watson to chase, but although MULLEN got to the ball before him he completely miscued his clearance and sent it rolling in to his own net beyond Brown, who had come off his line to try and gather.
Owbridge had a great chance to add to Vics tally three minutes later when he was sent clear by Fotheringham, but the striker dragged his shot across goal and wide of the far post with only the ‘keeper to beat.
Harp replied with Williamson and Goodall working the ball into Vics’ box for Chris Paton who turned quickly to fire off a shot, but it was straight into the body of Hutcheson.
The home side had some reward for their efforts in the 38th minute when they pulled a goal back. FOTHERINGHAM got on the end of a Paton cross. Although his header was blocked, he reacted quickest to the rebound by sticking out a leg to loft the ball over Hutcheson, where it dropped over the line just inside the post.
It took Vics only a couple of minutes to restore their two-goal advantage, however. Ryan Owbridge did the spadework tricking Fotheringham just inside his own half before racing clear of the Harp defence and squaring the ball across for CRAIG WATSON to pick his spot beyond Brown.
Vics had the Harp defence run ragged and it came as no surprise when they scored again in the 43rd minute. Owbridge gathered a Matty Johnston throw-in and turned to drill a cross into the box, where GARRY WARREN came in from the left to shoot under the body of the ‘keeper.
Half-time: Lochee Harp 1, Arbroath Vics 4.
The second half was only four minutes old when Mark Christison picked up the first booking of the afternoon when he pulled Watson back as he broke over the halfway line.
Vics should have grabbed a fifth goal a minute later when Watson latched onto a Warren through ball and got the better of Fotheringham to fire off a shot, which Brown did well to parry. Owbridge was first to the rebound, but was caught off balance and he shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
Brad Millar wasn’t too far off target with a curling effort from inside the ‘D’, which went over the bar before Paton had a similar effort suffer the same fate a couple of minutes later.
Sturrock and Millar then needlessly got involved in a shoving match, which ended with both of them being yellow carded before Williamson talked himself into a booking a minute later.
Any slight chance Harp had of staging a comeback disappeared when Vics increased their lead to 5-1 in the 59th minute. Stephen cut in from the right and drilled a knee-high cross into the box which CRAIG WATSON stuck out a foot to divert into the net.
Straight from the restart, Goodhall looked set to pull a goal back when Mullen swung over a cross to the far post, but Fotheringham appeared from nowhere to head it behind for a corner as he waited to nod it in.
Harp made a change in the 62nd minute when David Taylor came on for Fairfield.
Despite the change, the match was still fairly one-sided and within three minutes of the change, Vics grabbed a sixth. Johnston sent RYAN OWBRIDGE free and he took the ball into the box and rounded the’ keeper before rolling it into the net from a tight angle.
With the points long since secure, Vics made a double substitution when Chris Simpson made his debut, replacing Watson and MacFarlane took over from Warren.
The bookings continued to rack up and Harp pair Blaine McAulay and Fotheringham were both yellow carded for fouls on Steve Florence and MacFarlane.
Further changes saw Vics send on Danny McKenzie for Owbridge, while at the same time Harp replaced Millar with Graham Moon.
The match was constantly being disrupted for petty fouls and Paton was the next Harp player to be booked following a clash with Stephen.
Vics, too, saw a couple of players yellow carded, with Johnston and McLeish both having their names taken.
Harp ended the match with 10 men when McAulay was sent off in stoppage time, following a second yellow card for dissent as he was receiving treatment on the ground.
The match should have been finished a good two or three minutes before, but heated protests from the Harp sideline saw the referee have to go over to the technical area and have a word with the bench and player/manager Mike Kelly, listed as a substitute, was added to the list of bookings before the game restarted, allowing the referee to bring it to a close seconds later.
Leading 4-1 at the interval, Vics never looked like relinquishing their lead as Harp’s 100 per cent record was put to the sword, and but for the stop-start nature of the last 30 minutes Vics might have won by an even bigger margin than 6-1.
Lochee Harp: Brown, Mullen, McAulay, Christison, Fotheringham, Millar (Moon 75), Fairfield (Taylor 62), Paton, Goodhall, Williamson, Ramsay. Unused substitutes: Mullen, Hill, Grieve, Black and Kelly.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish, Florence, Johnston, Durno, Sturrock, Stephen, Fotheringham, Owbridge (McKenzie 75), Watson (Simpson 66), Warren (MacFarlane 66). Unused substitutes: Laing, Lawson, Gray and Cargill, gk.
Referee: Mr. S. Leslie (Brechin).
Scottish Cup tie
Vics have a break from the league tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel over the Tay into Fife to meet three times Scottish Junior Cup winners Tayport in the second round of the Emirates Scottish Junior Cup.
The teams last met in the semi-final of last season’s DJ League Cup when Tayport won 3-1 at the Canniepairt, but Vics gave a good account of themselves on the night and it took a late goal for the Fife side to secure victory.
Since that meeting, Tayport have appointed former Arbroath manager John McGlashan to take charge of team affairs and he has been putting together a new squad in his attempt to get them back into the Super League following relegation from the top flight at the end of last season. One of his many signings is former Arbroath, Dundee, Hibs and Montrose striker Paul Tosh.
Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.30 p.m.
McBookie.com East North League
P W D L F A Pts
Dundee Violet 6 6 0 0 26 4 18
Montrose Roselea 6 4 1 1 22 4 13
Arbroath Vics 6 4 1 1 16 9 13
Dundee North End 5 4 0 1 11 5 12
Kirriemuir Thistle 6 3 1 2 11 8 10
Lochee Harp 6 3 0 3 15 19 9
East Craigie 6 2 2 2 12 15 8
Blairgowrie 7 1 1 5 11 17 4
Brechin Vics 5 1 0 4 6 21 3
Forfar Albion 5 0 2 3 6 12 2
Coupar Angus 6 0 0 6 9 31 0