WHEN Arbroath substitute Paul Currie clipped home a Brian Kerr near post cross in the 90th minute to put his team in front, it was odds on the Gayfielders would snatch all three points at blustery Ochilview.
Lee Sibanda had earlier cancelled out John Gemmell’s opener for the hosts, but just as referee Frank McDermott was poised to blow for time, Kevin McKinlay headed a Bryan Hodge corner into the net to restore parity, leaving visiting manager Paul Sheerin’s feelings somewhat mixed.
“I suppose if you had been offered a draw before kick-off you might have been tempted to take it,” Sheerin said. “In the circumstances though, it was a bit hard to take.
“When you score so late you obviously think you are home and dry, but lack of concentration and not picking up at the set piece was a bit of a blow.
“I think overall though, a draw was probably a fair result.”
Only the most biased fan of either side would have disputed the manager’s assessment as this was a cracking game of football that was a credit to the division and everyone involved.
“Probably for a neutral it was a good game of football,” Sheerin agreed, “It was quite open and both sides played a bit.
“It’s been a concern for a couple of seasons now that we have conceded too many goals so it was frustrating to lose two today, especially the manner we lost them.
“Scoring late then losing one even later to a set-piece was very frustrating. Overall though, I suppose if you go away from home and pick up points at difficult places like this, you will be alright in this league, as long as you win your home ones.
“It’s still disappointing, however, not to have picked up three points today in the circumstances.”
If Stenny were feeling the effects of Tuesday night’s exertions when they went out of the Communities Cup after extra-time and penalties to Inverness, it was not apparent early on.
Indeed, the Warriors might have taken the lead in six minutes after a sweet move involving Darren Smith, Stewart Kean and John Gemmell. The latter’s shot from the edge of the box, however, whistled inches wide.
The home team remained on top and Andy Rodgers went close before again dribbling into the box only to be blocked out by force of numbers.
With 22 minutes on the clock it appeared that Stenny would finally break the deadlock when Smith was put through by Gemmell. Just as the striker was about to pull the trigger though, Alex Keddie slid in with a tremendous block to save the day.
A minute before the break the Warriors were again unfortunate when Alan Lawson cut back from the left to Kean on the angle of the six yards. The striker directed the ball goalwards only to hold his head in his hands when it came back off the post.
Despite Arbroath’s much more aggressive start to the second period, it took the Warriors just two minutes to grab the opener. Kean sent in a peach of a cross from the right and Gemmell rose to power home a header from eight yards.
The visitors responded immediately and Lee Sibanda fired just wide before crashing another effort off the bar in the 51st minute.
The midfielder was not to be denied, however, and levelled the scores on the hour mark with a wonderful 16 yards drive that soared into the top corner.
Both sides continued to serve up a rip snorting piece of theatre that had the punters on the edge of their seats and when Currie netted his side’s second in the dying minutes, it appeared all over.
Stenny raced up the park and won a corner, however, and with the visiting defence asleep, Kevin McKinlay nodded in a leveller that few would have begrudged the home team.
“It was probably our most consistent 90 minutes of the season,” scorer Sibanda said. “We’ve kinda been playing well in first halves of games and then not doing so well in the second.
“It was good to be able to do it over the whole game today, but obviously giving the goal away is just criminal.
“We worked so hard to get ourselves into that situation and should have been able to defend that last set piece.
“We probably switched off a wee bit and we should never have let the ball down the side. It’s something we will learn from, but at the moment it feels more like a defeat than a point won.”
The Fifer’s goal from just inside the box that levelled the scores at 1–1 was a wonderful strike and he continued: “When the ball came out to me it bounced up and I just tried to get over it.
“I caught it sweetly and was delighted to see it go in, but I told Steven Doris before the game that I would score today and I did hit the bar just before that.
“Queen of the South’s [league leaders] lads are still full-time and look like they are going to have a good season. We are a decent side ourselves though, and if we can pick up points away and win our home games we will have a chance to be up there at the end. “