Arbroath Vics 4, Lochee Harp 1
NORMAL service was resumed as junior football came out of cold storage after a three-week hiatus. This allowed Arbroath Vics to play a home fixture for the first time in 2013, when they entertained Lochee Harp in the league on Saturday.
There were two changes to the side that defeated East Craigie away from home in a GA Engineering cup tie back in early January with Steve Florence and Garry Warren both coming back into the starting line-up at the expense of Kevin Laing and Chris Simpson.
Having waited until February to get a home match under way, Vics got off to the worst possible start by conceding a goal just over three minutes in. Steven Williamson sent over a corner and centre-half LIAM McHUGH got on the end of it to head Harp into the lead.
The early goal seemed to unsettle Vics and a poor first touch from Lee Hutcheson almost presented Michael Gormley with a chance a minute later, but the ‘keeper recovered and was able to smother the ball at the feet of the number 11 on the six-yard line.
Soon after a Darren Brown clearance was headed on by Williamson for Mark Scott who got away his shot, but it was comfortably held under the bar by Hutcheson.
Vics gradually got their act together and a Mark Fotheringham effort warmed the hands of Brown, before the ‘keeper was forced to race from his box to prevent Craig Watson from reaching a Paul Tosh through ball.
In the 17th minute, a Craig Sturrock cross from wide on the left was turned back into the box from the opposite side by Grant Mowatt and Brown just did enough to get a hand to the ball to flick it away from Andy Cowan.
Cowan had a better chance three minutes later when he got a free header from a Grant Mowatt corner, but screwed his effort wide of the far post.
As Vics pushed on in search of an equaliser, a solo run from Mowatt took him through the Harp defence before he laid the ball off to Garry Warren and his cross was flicked away by goalkeeper Brown at the back post.
Despite that, Vics had a let off in the 27th minute when Hutcheson dropped a Mark Scott free kick under his own crossbar and a terrific scramble ensued almost on the line before the referee halted play to award a free kick to Vics.
Four minutes later, Vics got themselves back on level terms. Fotheringham sent Warren away up the left and he sent over the perfect cross for the inrushing CRAIG WATSON to bullet a header into the back of the net.
Watson was not in such a celebratory mood two minutes later, however, when he was yellow carded for high feet in Vics’ next attack.
Harp almost edged back in front when Williamson turned a Craig Paterson throw-in back into the path of Gormley whose shot from the corner of the box wasn’t far off target.
The last chance of the half fell to the visitors when a Jon Rosscraig free kick caused bother in Vics’ box and Keir Reilly fired the loose ball just wide.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 1, Lochee Harp 1.
Having conceded a goal in the early stages of the first half, Vics reversed the trend by scoring themselves five minutes into the second period. Mowatt did the spadework bursting forward on a solo run and riding a blatant attempt by Reilly to bring him down, before playing in CRAIG WATSON who steered a low shot beyond Brown and just inside the post. Before play resumed, Reilly was booked for his attempt to upend Mowatt.
Within three minutes however, Harp were given a great chance to get back on level terms when they were awarded a penalty for pushing in the box as Rosscraig flighted the ball into the area. Williamson took the kick, but his shot struck the post and flew back across the face of goal with Tosh booting it away before any of the Harp forwards could reach.
Paterson then picked up a yellow card for a foul on McLeish before pulling the ball back from the by-line for Mark Scott to fire off a shot, which was straight at Hutcheson.
In the 61st minute, both teams made a change with Vics sending on Craig Stephen for Cowan and Harp replacing Lee Gallacher with Bradley Mitchell.
Harp were far from out of it and Florence did well to flick a Rosscraig corner behind at the opposite post to prevent Paul Mann from turning it in.
Craig Sturrock and Paul Mann then both found themselves in the referee’s notebook following an altercation before the second corner, which proved fruitless, was delivered.
Watson put Vics back on the front foot, sending in a shot which, took a heavy deflection, causing a bit of bother to Brown but the ‘keeper eventually got hold of it, despite the fact it appeared to be going wide.
Midway through the half, Harp made a second change when Brad Millar came on for Reilly.
Williamson then burst through Vics’ defence but his shot was too high to trouble Hutcheson as it sailed over the bar.
Harp came closer three minutes later when David Rae played in Gormley and Hutcheson did well to stick out a foot and block his shot. The danger still wasn’t over as the ball cannoned off Tosh and rebounded inches wide of the post, when it could easily have gone in.
With 12 minutes left, Vics sent on Chris Simpson for Watson before Williamson was yellow carded for chopping down Sturrock.
Further substitutions saw Vics send on Colin Lawson for Warren and Harp replace Scott with John Geekie.
The points were eventually settled when Vics grabbed a third goal in the 85th minute. Fotheringham rolled the ball into GRANT MOWATT positioned inside the ‘D’, but despite appearing to be crowded out, he played the ball through an opponent’s legs before curling a glorious shot high into the ‘keeper’s left-hand corner.
Liam McHugh found himself in the referee’s book for holding back Simpson before Vics extended their advantage to 4-1 as the match entered stoppage time. Craig Stephen got free down the right and whipped a cross into the box, which GRANT MOWATT volleyed high into the net.
There was still time for Millar to pick up a booking for dissent as the teams were waiting on the restart, before the referee drew proceedings to a close.
Vics were made to work hard for the three points against Harp, with the turning point coming when they failed from the penalty spot, but Vics stuck to their task and in the end were worthy winners despite the match being a little closer than the final scoreline may suggest.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish, Sturrock, Cowan (Stephen 61), Johnston, Florence, Mowatt, Fotheringham, Watson (Simpson 78), Tosh, Warren (Lawson 80). Unused substitutes: Laing, Durno and Walker.
Lochee Harp: Brown, Gallacher (Mitchell 61), Paterson, Rae, McHugh, Scott (Geekie 80), Mann, Rosscraig, Williamson, Reilly (Millar 67), Gormley. Unused substitutes: Fotheringham and Turner, g/k.
Referee: Mr. W. Ferguson.
Vics are out of town tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel to meet Dundee North End in the first round of the East of Scotland Cup. Kick-off is at 2 p.m. and transport leaves Ogilvy Park at 12.15 p.m.
Winners for the last two weeks are: £70 – No. 141, Willie Kiddie; £30 – No. 101, Kenny Tough; £15 – No. 109, Peter Longmuir; £15 – No. 130, Jamie Scott; £10 – No 71, Eddie Forbes; £10 – No. 9, Danny Brown; £5 – No. 23, Irene Ferrier; £5 – No. 137, Peter Longmuir.