ARBROATH Vics made the trip into Perthshire on Saturday looking to pick up some league points away to Blairgowrie.
After the disappointment of losing a two-goal lead at home to Lochee Harp in a 2-2 draw the previous week Vics were forced into one change due to Craig Sturrock being unavailable.
Garry Warren came in off the substitutes’ bench, with David McLeish switched into defence at left-back. Another change saw Colin Lawson given a starting place in midfield with Ryan Owbridge dropping down to the bench.
Vics started positively and almost took the lead in the second minute when the ball cannoned off Terry Gray and sent Craig Watson through on goal but goalkeeper Gordon O’Brien managed to block his shot before it was turned away for a throw-in.
The goal was only delayed for 60 seconds, as from David McLeish’s throw, Warren and Craig Watson helped the ball across the box where MARK FOTHERINGHAM arrived to send a header into the back of the net from inside the six-yard area.
It was close to being 2-0 a couple of minutes later when Warren was blocked just outside the box and the ball broke into the path of Watson who teed up Gray, but his shot curled wide of the target.
At the other end, Dale Hart charged down a McLeish clearance allowing the Blair’ player to clip a cross into the box over the head of Danny Smith at the back post. Ross Carnegie turned it back into the middle but Colin Lawson, back helping the defence, made a timely intervention to clear the danger.
The ball was soon up at the other end when a Chris Cargill clearance cleared the Blairgowrie backline allowing Watson to get in a header on the run, but Gordon O’Brien got back to hold the ball on the line.
The ‘keeper again came to the home side’s rescue when he clutched a Kevin Durno header following a Warren free kick after Craig Stephen had been brought down.
Having been on the backfoot for the first 20 minutes, Blairgowrie began to show more positive intent and Steve Florence had to be alert to turn a Gary Axworthy cross into the box for a corner, which almost picked out Danny Millar.
A couple of minutes later a quick turn and cross from Axworthy saw him send a cross to the far post, which was aimed for Hart, but McLeish got his head to the ball to head it behind before he could reach.
Vics replied with Watson heading a Durno free kick down inside the box, which was only partially cleared by the Blair defence and Fotheringham curled a shot back in from 22 yards, which O’Brien did well to dive across his line and gather.
Cargill then pulled off an even better save to keep Vics in front in the 32nd minute when James Simpson drilled a shot through a ruck of players, which was aiming just inside the post, but the ‘keeper threw himself full length to push it aside with his outstretched hand.
Almost immediately, Vics broke upfield with Smith picking out Warren with a crossfield pass but he was denied by a double save from O’Brien, the ‘keeper getting a hand to his initial shot and then grabbing the header from the rebound.
It was almost all square in the 34th minute when a ferocious 25-yard drive from James Simpson left Cargill helpless, but his shot crashed back into play off the underside of the bar and Vics managed to clear the rebound out of the danger area.
With half-time only eight minutes away, Vics were forced to make a change when Smith pulled a hamstring and had to be replaced. Liam Campbell came on as substitute, slotting in at left-back with McLeish switching to the opposite side.
Half-time: Blairgowrie 0, Arbroath Vics 1.
Vics’ tendency to lose goals straight after the interval came back to haunt them again as Blairgowrie equalised within a couple of minutes. Carnegie whipped over a cross from the right and STEVEN HARRIS got on the end of it to glance a header beyond Cargill from close range.
Within a minute however, Vics edged themselves back in front. A long throw from Gray caused confusion in the Blairgowrie defence and when Warren drilled the ball back across the face of goal, FOTHERINGHAM was on the spot to turn it over the line.
The referee, having had an easy time of it in the first half, was forced to issue the first of what would be a lengthy list of cards in the 55th minute when Carnegie was shown yellow for dissent.
Cargill then kept Vics in front when he got a fingertip to a Millar drive to flick the ball over the bar after the Blairgowrie player had charged forward from midfield. From the flag kick, Axworthy’s cross picked out James Simpson who was given a free header, but he somehow contrived to guide it the wrong side of the post.
In the 62nd minute Blairgowrie replaced Carnegie, who was in danger of being sent off for continually chirping away at the referee, with David Salisbury. A minute later, O’Brien was yellow carded for dissent, having raced yards out of his goal to have a go at the referee following a clear foul on Warren.
A speculative looping shot from Hart almost brought Blairgowrie level, but Cargill was again on his toes to deal with it, managing to push the ball round the post.
Five minutes later, a Cargill clearance was knocked through the Blair defence by Fotheringham, allowing Stephen a run into the box, but O’Brien got down to save at his feet as the Vics’ number seven tried to take it round him.
Vics continued to push on and increased their lead in the 73rd minute. Fotheringham sent a slide rule pass through the defence, which saw WARREN arrive from deep and he beat O’Brien with a low shot at his near post, the ball going in off the upright. Before play resumed, Axworthy was booked for dissent.
The game turned nasty a minute later, when Millar got involved with Gray as the Vics’ player was preparing to take a throw in. Hart had words with the referee and was immediately shown a red card. As he left the field he kicked the ball blatantly at Gray, which led to a confrontation between several players. Once the dust had settled, Millar, who had instigated the flashpoint was yellow carded along with Terry Gray.
Once football restarted, Steven Harris passed up a great chance to pull a goal back but he failed to get his head to Pirie’s cross with the goal wide open.
Lawson was the next player to be shown a yellow card when he broke up a Blairgowrie attack by handling the ball before Vics made a double substitution with 10 minutes left, sending on Ryan Owbridge and Chris Simpson for Gray and Stephen.
Vics had a chance to make sure of the points in the 85th minute when Watson got on the end of a McLeish pass and took the ball beyond O’Brien, who had advanced out of his box, but the referee adjudged him to have pushed Simpson inside the area as he tried to play it into the net.
Fotheringham was then unfortunate to be shown a yellow card for sliding in to try and win the ball inside the box as the ‘keeper dived to save at his feet.
In the 90th minute Watson should have made it 4-1 but he sent a shot into the midriff of O’Brien with only the ‘keeper to beat.
In stoppage time the referee was kept busy as firstly Axworthy was shown a second yellow card and was sent off leaving Blair’ down to nine men. No sooner had the game restarted when Salisbury took a swipe at Liam Campbell with the ball no where near him. The Vics’ player foolishly retaliated and he, too, was sent off, while David Salisbury escaped with only a yellow.
In what was a towsy last 15 minutes, Vics were good value for the win over the piece against a Blairgowrie side who never made it easy for them before they lost the plot late on.
Blairgowrie: O’Brien, McDonald, Hay, Millar, Pirie, Simpson, Hart, Hood, Harris, Axworthy, Carnegie (Salisbury 62). Unused subs: Ryder, Holt, Sidowra, Henderson and Shannon.
Arbroath Vics: Cargill, (Campbell 37), McLeish, Gray (Owbridge 80), Durno, Florence, Stephen (Simpson 80), Fotheringham, Watson, Lawson, Warren. Unused sub: Hutcheson, gk.
Referee: Mr. S. Traynor, Dundee,.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Vics are away to league leaders Dundee Violet in a league fixture. 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. 28, Caitlin Small; £5 – No. 80, Gavin Ferguson.
McBookie.com East North League
P W D L F A Pts
Violet 14 13 0 1 56 12 39
Roselea 16 12 3 1 44 10 39
North End 15 10 3 2 35 18 33
Kirrier Th. 16 9 1 6 42 20 28
Arb. Vics 16 7 4 5 30 29 25
E. Craigie 13 6 4 3 33 23 22
Harp 15 4 2 9 28 45 14
Blairgowrie 14 3 3 8 22 28 12
Brech. Vics 15 4 0 11 23 55 12
Forfar Alb. 15 1 5 9 19 37 8
Coup. Ang. 15 0 1 14 20 75 1