Arbroath Vics 0, Downfield 3
Pre-season favourites for the McBookie.com North Division Downfield were guests of Arbroath Vics in a league fixture at Ogilvy Park on Saturday.
Vics made only one change to the side that defeated Lochee Harp 4-0 away the previous week with Josh Chalmers dropping down to the bench to allow David Sturrock to come into the starting line-up.
The Spiders started off on the front foot and were soon in and around Vics goal, but their early efforts saw Connor MacLeod earn a rebuke from the referee for a dive inside the penalty area, which was quickly followed by a yellow card for Robert Smith for an even more theatrical dive 60 seconds later.
Robert Smith showed himself in a more positive light when he got free on the left and swung over a dangerous cross, which Steve Florence did well to head away from the incoming Terry Connell.
Soon after a slack pass from Matty Johnston was seized upon by Terry Connell who played it inside to Connor MacLeod but Kevin Durno got back to block his shot away just inside the box.
Vics were struggling to get any rhythm into their play as Downfield dictated the pace of the game and when Gary Archibald turned a Scott Reynolds free-kick back into the middle of the box, Connor MacLeod sent a header into Alex Cargill’s arms.
The closest to a goal came a couple of minutes later when Connor MacLeod broke away from just inside Vics half and rifled in a fierce drive, which Alex Cargill did well to beat away.
Sean Anderson was next to have a go with a 22 yard free-kick, which Alex Cargill fielded comfortably, before Tommo Thomson was yellow carded for hauling down Kane Hester as Vics tried to get an attack going.
The nearest Vics came to breaching the Downfield defence came in the 23rd minute when Garry Warren and Kane Hester combined up the left with the latter’s cross being sliced behind his own goal for a corner by James Thomson.
In the 26th minute, Downfield took the lead. Vics lost possession inside the visitors half, allowing the ball to be swept out wide to Robert Smith on the left.
In a counter attack, the full-back made ground down the left before firing over a cross, which Gavin Hood turned back into the path of TERRY CONNELL who blasted a drive beyond Alex Cargill from 18 yards.
Two minutes later, Vics found themselves two goals down.
Connor MacLeod sent a pass through the heart of the defence and TERRY CONNELL was quickly onto it to clip the ball beyond the outrushing Alex Cargill with just enough pace to take it into the net.
A disastrous five minute spell for Vics saw them concede a third goal in the 31st minute.
A Sean Anderson free-kick swung high into the air saw it break from the grasp of Alex Cargill as he challenged for it on the penalty spot and GARY ARCHIBALD tucked away the loose ball.
In what was turning out to be a challenging afternoon for Vics they were dealt a further blow when Kevin Durno limped off. Craig Watson came on from the bench, making his first appearance of the season with David Sturrock dropping back to central defence.
Downfield came close to bagging a fourth goal on the stroke of half-time when Tommo Thomson, Gavin Hood and Connor MacLeod combined to set up a shooting chance for Terry Connell whose curling effort skipped just wide of Alex Cargill’s left-hand post.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 0 Downfield 3
Vics made a further change at the start of the second half when Scott Donald was withdrawn in place of Liam Scott.
The home side created their best chance of the match so far within a couple of minutes when Liam Scott sent Garry Warren down the left and he played the ball up to Craig Watson.
The substitute got the better of his marker on the by-line and crossed to the far side of the box for Kane Hester, but the striker skewed his shot well wide from inside the six-yard box.
Kieran MacGregor became the first Vics player to be shown a yellow card when he upended James Thomson inside the Downfield half.
In Downfield’s first foray into Vics half in the second period; Terry Connell nodded a Sean Anderson free-kick back across goal for Scott Reynolds to fire in a shot, which Alex Cargill threw up a hand to keep out.
Scott Reynold had another go a minute later with a 22-yard effort which whizzed inches over the bar after being set up by Connor MacLeod.
Alex Cargill again came to Vics rescue blocking a Gary Archibald effort as Downfield went in search of a fourth goal.
At the other end, Craig Watson got on the end of a Liam Scott cross, but his header had the sting taken out of it when it deflected off a defender allowing goalkeeper Jamie Kelly to gather it before Kane Hester could reach.
As Vics began to enjoy their best spell of the match, Jamie Thomson sent a dipping volley just over, with Jamie Kelly happy to see it clear the bar.
Three substitutions broke up the play with Downfield sending on John Penman for Gavin Hood (70 minutes) and Ross Lunan for Connor MacLeod (73 minutes). In between, Vics replaced Kieran MacGregor with Josh Chalmers.
Josh Chalmers was quickly involved sending Garry Warren away down the right to deliver a cross into the box, which saw Craig Watson get above the defence, but his header, flew over the bar.
Downfield made their third change of the afternoon when Connor Adam came on for Terry Connell.
ics were still searching for a goal and they were out of luck in the 80th minute when dogged play by Josh Chalmers set up an opening for Jamie Thomson and his shot took a deflection and spun wide with Jamie Kelly diving in the opposite direction.
Scott Reynolds picked up a needless booking for dissent before a slack pass back from Connor Adam saw Craig Watson get on the end of it, but he was bailed out by Jamie Kelly who managed to block the striker’s shot.
The referee had his cards out again noting the names of Connor Adam and Mark Fotheringham in separate incidents before bringing the match to an end minutes later.
Vics never really got out of the starting blocks in the first period, culminating in a disastrous five minute spell midway through the half, which saw Downfield score three times. Despite a much better performance after the break, in which they gave as good as they got the three goal deficit, was insurmountable and the points were effectively heading back to Dundee by the time interval had been reached.
Arbroath Vics: 1 Alex Cargill, 2 Kieran MacGregor (sub 14 Josh Chalmers 72 mins), 3 Matty Johnston, 4 Jamie Thomson, 5 Kevin Durno (sub 15 Craig Watson 42 mins), 6 Steve Florence, 7 David Sturrock 8 Mark Fotheringham, 9 Kane Hester, 10 Scott Donald (sub 16 Liam Scott 46 mins), 11 Garry Warren. Unused subs: 12 Colin Lawson 17 David McLeish.
Referee: Mr. C. Fordyce (Dundee).
Vics take a break from the bread and butter of league football when they travel to Dundee to meet East Craigie in the first round of the DJ Laing East of Scotland Cup this Saturday.
Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.45 p.m.
P W D L F A Pt
Luncarty 4 3 1 0 12 5 10
Newburgh 5 3 1 1 10 8 10
Brechin Vics 5 3 0 2 20 13 9
Downfield 4 3 0 1 9 5 9
Thornton Hibs 4 2 2 0 17 6 8
Kirrie Thistle 5 2 2 1 13 11 8
Blairgowrie 4 2 1 1 9 6 7
East Craigie 5 2 1 2 13 11 7
Lochee Harp 4 2 0 2 8 6 6
Scone Thistle 5 2 0 3 9 10 6
Kirkcaldy YM 5 2 0 3 10 17 6
Kennoway Star Hearts 5 1 2 2 12 13 5
Arbroath Vics 5 1 1 3 9 15 4
Lochore Welfare 5 1 1 3 10 17 4
Forfar Albion 5 0 0 5 7 24 0