Arbroath Vics 4, Downfield 3
HAVING exited the Emirates Scottish Junior Cup the previous week, Arbroath Vics were back on league duty on Saturday when they entertained Downfield.
Again injuries, work commitments and illness hampered team selection and manager Jake Ferrier added to the squad by securing the loan of Andy Cowan from Carnoustie Panmure until the end of December. The player was given a place on the bench alongside trialist Chas McKenzie.
Downfield, having come down from the Premier League last season, were looking to make a quickfire return, but hadn’t made the best of starts to their campaign.
Vics were first to make an opening when Danny Smith sent a cross into the Downfield box from just over the halfway line, but goalkeeper Gary Thain plucked the ball off the head of Craig Watson.
At the other end, Kit Bremner gathered a Shaun Lannen throw and sent a snap shot wide of the post without really troubling Lee Hutcheson.
Back came Vics and from a Mark Fotheringham throw-in, Chris Simpson got in a cross, which Mark Ferrie headed out of the box, only for David McLeish to hook it back in where Thain did well to deny Craig Watson from close range.
It was Downfield however who drew first blood with the opening goal in 10 minutes. Ryan Tennant headed a Ferrie through ball into the box for Kit Bremner who was prevented from getting in a shot by Steve Florence. The Downfield player managed to hold possession and turn the ball back to TENNANT, who steered a shot into the net from a yard inside the box.
The lead was shortlived as within a minute, Vics were back on level terms. Craig Sturrock instigated the move from inside his own half and Watson and Simpson helped the ball on for GRANT MOWATT who made ground down the right before cutting into the box and rounding the ‘keeper to finish in style.
Thain kept Downfield on level terms with a double save blocking away a Watson shot and then doing the same to deny Simpson on the follow up.
Despite that, the ‘keeper could do little to prevent Vics from taking the lead in the 20th minute. Garry Warren set up a shooting chance for Fotheringham, but his shot from outside the area struck Watson and spun out wide to Grant Mowatt on the right, but when he returned the ball into the box, WATSON had escaped his marker to head home from a couple of yards at the back post.
Vics continued to hold the upper hand and Thain again came to the Spiders’ rescue, leaping to tip a long range effort from David McLeish over the bar.
The ‘keeper was in fine form and he again saved his side by blocking a close range effort from Fotheringham after a Warren corner had only been partially cleared.
In the 27th minute, Vics opened up a two goal lead. Warren was brought down just outside the box on the left and when McLeish sent the free kick into the box FOTHERINGHAM headed home from around 10 yards.
Downfield pulled a goal back within three minutes to keep themselves in contention. Vics failed to deal with a Ralph Henderson free kick and BREMNER guided a header beyond Hutcheson.
Sam Johnson picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon for a reckless tackle on Danny Smith before a high scoring half saw Vics go 4-2 ahead in the 38th minute. Fotheringham won the ball with a crunching tackle in midfield allowing McLeish to release Mowatt who set off down the right before crossing to the near post where WATSON converted low down between the ‘keeper and the upright.
That ended the first-half goal spree, but there was time for Warren to be yellow carded for diving before the interval arrived.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 4, Downfield 2.
Downfield made a change at the start of the second half, sending on Kevin Scott for Michael Bannon.
The Spiders looked livelier in the opening minutes of the second period with Hutcheson being called upon to hold a Shaun Lannen cross and a Tennant header, but on both occasions he wasn’t severely tested.
In the 53rd minute, Downfield made a second change when Danny Martin was replaced by Andy Payne.
Tennant got another header in after Leahy crossed into the box following a Johnson corner, but his downward effort bounced into the arms of Hutcheson on the line.
Two minutes later, Downfield were right back in contention when they were awarded a penalty. Sturrock halted the progress of Johnson just inside the area with a solid tackle, but as both players fell to the ground, the referee adjudged him to have deliberately played the loose ball with his arm. FERRIE gave Hutcheson no chance with the spot kick, blasting the ball high into the net after Sturrock was booked.
Vics responded with Sturrock sending a long ball over the top of the Downfield defence for Mowatt to chase, but Thain was quickly out of his area to kick clear.
Simpson then picked up a booking for a foul on Kevin Scott who was himself yellow carded a few minutes later for handball, before Vics sent on Colin Lawson for McLeish who had picked up a knock.
Smith then found his name added to the referee’s book for dissent, before Mowatt spotted Thain off his line, but the ‘keeper got back to hold his speculative shot from out on the right.
Watson picked up a knock and was replaced by Cowan in the 77th minute; the substitute slotting into midfield with Simpson moving up front.
Good play by Warren saw him run deep into the Downfield half before playing in Mowatt, but not for the first time in the match, Thain came to Downfield’s rescue by turning his shot round the post. From the corner, Cowan got on the end of Warren’s cross but his header was straight into the ‘keeper’s arms.
With 10 minutes left, Downfield made their third change when Scott Tovey replaced Ralph Henderson.
Johnston almost turned an Andy Payne cross into his own net as Downfield pushed for an equaliser, his clearance flying behind for a corner much to the relief of all in a black and white jersey.
From the flag kick, Hutcheson kept Vics noses in front diving to push Bremner’s header round the opposite post low down to his right.
Fotheringham had a chance to seal the points for Vics when he got the break of the ball outside the Downfield box, but he dragged his shot across the face of goal and wide.
Sturrock broke forward from his defensive duties, but despite being impeded by Ferrie he managed to stay on his feet and fire a shot just wide. Before play resumed the Downfield player was booked for the initial trip.
With 90 minutes on the clock, Downfield were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position a couple of yards outside the corner of the box and Lannen’s shot just cleared the far post.
Despite a few more minutes stoppage time, Vics held out comfortably to claim the points.
Vics probably should have had the match wrapped up by half-time and although they deserved the win the only concern would be the way they allowed Downfield back into the match after twice being two goals in front.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish (Lawson 63), Sturrock, Smith, Johnston, Florence, Mowatt, Fotheringham, Watson (Cowan 77), Simpson, Warren. Unused substitutes: McKenzie and Duncan, g/k.
Downfield: Thain, Henderson (Tovey 80), Lannen, De Gernier, Ferrie, Leahy, Bannon (Scott 46), Bremner, Tennant, Johnson, Martin(Payne 53). Unused substitutes: Ross and Lindsay.
Referee: Mr. C. Fordyce (Dundee).
Vics are away to Dundee North End in a league fixture tomorrow (Saturday). Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and transport leaves Ogilvy Park at 12.30 p.m.
Winners this week were: £70 – No. 43, Marc Walker; £30 – No.127, Danny Smith; £15 – No. 29, Cameron Walker; £15 – No. 95, George Kennedy; £10 – No.78, Steve Scott; £5 – No. 80, Gavin Ferguson.