Kirrie Thistle 1,
Arbroath Vics 0
HAVING been postponed twice previously, Arbroath Vics got their D.J. Laing League Cup semi-final away to Kirrie Thistle under way at the third time of asking on Saturday.
Vics went into the match without the injured trio of Craig Stephen, Marc Walker and David McLeish, with Kevin Durno and Liam Campbell both unavailable.
Despite rain having left Westview Park waterlogged on the two midweek dates, the pitch was looking in good condition as the game kicked off with a troublesome wind swirling around the ground.
The home side came close to taking the lead inside two minutes when James Russell played a free kick into the box, which Stewart Russell stabbed against the post from close range. He probably should have scored, before Vics managed to scramble the ball away.
After that early scare, the visitors began to settle down and Colin Lawson made space down the right for Grant Mowatt to get in a cross, which goalkeeper Mark Stewart was forced to tip over.
From Garry Warren’s corner, Craig Sturrock sent a shot over the bar after the ball had been headed high into the air by one of the Kirrie defenders trying to clear.
Warren then won a tackle in midfield before releasing Craig Watson, but his shot was blocked and it afforded Stewart an easy save.
The ‘keeper was again called into action, diving low to his right to smother another Watson shot after Mark Fotheringham had back-heeled the ball into his path.
Midway through the half, Chris Simpson was yellow carded for a foul on John Farquharson, having been spoken to earlier in the match.
Both teams were striving hard to make play constructive, but the wind and perhaps tension made it difficult for the players to make anything cohesive happen. Although Scott Russell did well to get in the way of a Fotheringham shot to block the ball away.
Fotheringham then found his name in the referee’s book soon after for a foul on Gary Archibald in a congested midfield.
The nearest to a goal came in the 39th minute when Sturrock played in Watson who got the better of Robbie George, but as the ‘keeper came off his line, the striker’s lob from a tight angle drifted past the post.
Half-time: Kirrie Thistle 0, Arbroath Vics 0.
Having gone 45 minutes without a goal it took only two minutes of the second half for the deadlock to be broken, and it was the home side that made the breakthrough.
Farquharson played a ball over the head of Danny Smith who lost his footing as he backtracked and that opened the door for James RUSSELL who drilled a low shot into the corner of the net beyond the dive of Lee Hutcheson.
Vics made a change soon after when Ryan Owbridge came on for Watson who had picked up a knock in the first half.
In the 55th minute, Vics thought they had equalised when Mowatt turned in a Smith cross at the back post, but their joy was shortlived when the referee spotted the linesman’s flag up for offside.
At the other end a long throw-in from James Russell found the head of Paul Cooney and Hutcheson had to be on his toes to hold the ball under the bar.
On the hour mark, George found his name in the referee’s book before Cooney hooked the ball forward for James Russell to head goalwards, but Hutcheson managed to push it round the post.
Simpson almost got Vics back on level terms with a blistering drive from distance after Warren and Lawson had created the opening, but Mark Stewart was equal to the task throwing up his hands to push the ball over the bar.
The home side responded with Smith making ground down the left and cutting into the box before firing off a shot, which Hutcheson did well to tip over.
Smith then found himself in the referee’s book following a late tackle on Stewart Russell before Kirrie sent David Millar on for Fraser Smith, while at the same time, Vics introduced Kevin Laing for Lawson; the substitute moving to left-back with Danny Smith pushing into midfield.
As the game entered the last 15 minutes, Robert Smith became the fifth booking of the afternoon when he was yellow carded for dissent.
Simpson almost gifted an opening for Kirrie when his clearance deep inside his own half was charged down by Farquharson, but Sturrock got across to clear before he could get in a shot.
In the 84th minute great play from Mowatt saw him cut into the box and wriggle his way along the bye-line before cutting the ball back to Owbridge.
But his shot struck the ‘keeper from around eight yards. As the ball broke clear, Vics might have had a penalty when Mark Stewart appeared to pull Warren back before he managed to boot the ball out for a throw-in.
Vics kept pressing to the end and won a corner in stoppage time, but Fotheringham’s header from almost on the 18-yard line was plucked out of the air by Mark Stewart, which allowed the referee to bring the game to an end.
Over the piece, Vics will feel a little hard done by not to have taken the game to penalties, but it was Kirrie who got the all important goal to take them through to the final where they will meet Lochee United.
Kirrie Thistle: Stewart, Archibald, Cooney (Scott 65), Farquharson, George, James Russell, Scott Russell, Stewart Russell, Fraser Smith (Millar 74), Robert Smith and Farquharson. Not used: McKenna, Taylor and Robertson.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, Johnston, Sturrock, Lawson (Laing 74), Smith, Florence, Mowatt, Fotheringham, Watson (Owbridge 5), Simpson and Warren. Not used: Duncan.
Referee: Mr. W. Ferguson (Forfar).
Vics are back on league business tomorrow (Saturday) when they are away to Forfar Albion. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and players should meet at Ogilvy Park at 12.45 p.m.
Winners this week were:
£10 – No. 101 Kenny Tough.
£5 – No. 54 Jackie Reid.