Arbroath Vics 2, Forfar West End 1
ARBROATH Vics were again at home on Saturday when they played host to Forfar West End in a league fixture.
With the heavy home defeat to Kirrie Thistle still fresh in their minds, Vics made three changes to the starting line-up, with Craig Sturrock, Steve Florence and Colin Lawson all back in at the expense of Kevin Laing, Matty Johnston and Liam Campbell, who all dropped down to the bench.
Forfar West End were unbeaten so far in the league, but had been deducted six points for registration infringements following their year in abeyance from the Super League and subsequent demotion to the North Division.
Vics had the first foray into the opposition half when Mark Fotheringham won the ball in midfield and swapped passes with Grant Mowatt before setting up Craig Watson, but the striker’s shot was easily saved by Cameron Johnstone in the West End goal.
Despite that, West End showed their intentions were to win and a sweeping move down the left saw David Taylor play the ball inside to Darren Scott whose shot whistled inches wide of Lee Hutcheson’s right hand post.
At the other end, Vics broke quickly from a West End corner with Mowatt taking the ball on a run deep into the Forfar half before seeing his cross deflect off a defender and fall for Watson, who sent a 20-yard effort wide.
The away side came closest to opening the scoring in the seventh minute when Kevin Garrick got on the end of a Darren Cox corner and only an instinctive save on the line from Hutcheson, throwing his hands up to beat the ball away, prevented his header from finding the back of the net.
Two minutes later, however, West End were in front. Scott played a great diagonal pass through Vics’ defence for Mathew Ramsay on the right and he cut into the box and might even have finished himself, but instead rolled the ball across the area for DARREN COX, coming in from the opposite side, to sweep beyond Hutcheson.
West End continued to hem Vics back and came close to increasing their lead in the 12th minute when Garrick got his head to a Ramsay free kick, only to see his effort clip the bar on its way over.
Hutcheson was being kept busy and following another good West End move, he did well to get hands to a Darren Cox drive to push the ball round the post for a corner.
Indeed, West End forced a series of corners as they went all out for a second goal, but Vics managed to hold out and restrict their lead to the single goal during the away sides pressure.
Vics began to get to grips with the game and in the 25th minute got back on level terms with a tremendous goal from CRAIG WATSON. He received a pass from Colin Lawson, and, spotting the ‘keeper off his line, lofted the ball over his head and into the back of the net from a distance approaching 40 yards.
West End had strong claims for a penalty waved aside in the 27th minute when Scott looked to be impeded as he burst into the box, with the loose ball spinning into the arms of Hutcheson, but the referee allowed play to continue.
Kevin Durno then put Vics on the front foot, playing the ball out of defence for Mark Fotheringham to release Mowatt, but Johnstone dived out to smother his cross inside the six-yard box.
As the half wore on, Watson had a chance to put Vics ahead when he was played through by Fotheringham, but Johnstone stood his ground and blocked the shot with his body just inside the box and the ball cannoned away for a throw-in.
Just before the interval, Watson did have the ball in the West End net, but the referee had blown for offside before he had done so.
Half-time: Arbroath Vics 1, Forfar West End 1.
The first action of the second period saw the referee reach for his pocket to yellow card Chris Simpson for a foul on Mark Kelly on the far side of the park.
Mowatt created the first opening after the break when he got beyond Robbie Black on a run down the right, which took him into the box, but his shot was blocked by Kelly and Fotheringham’s follow-up met the same fate.
Watson then got high above the West End defence to reach a David McLeish free kick from the right touchline and his header just dropped the wrong side of the post.
Florence then found his name in the referee’s book when he tripped Darren Cox just a yard outside the box, but Hutcheson comfortably held Scott’s free kick on the line before he was caught late by Garrick, trying to reach the ball.
Soon after, Cox sent a shot flashing past the post as the ball bobbled around on the 18-yard line with neither side able to get a foot on it.
Vics responded with Andy Cowan taking the ball deep into the West End half before he was impeded by Garrick, but Watson’s low shot from the resultant free kick was easily gathered by Johnstone.
West End were next to have a go when Gavin Tinley rolled the ball into the path of Scott who tried to curl a shot from 19 yards beyond Hutcheson, but he sent it a good few yards wide of the target.
Midway through the half, both teams made a change with Vics replacing Chris Simpson with Garry Warren and West End sending on Ross Grant for Tinley.
Mowatt was then denied by a good save from Johnstone, the ‘keeper doing well to dive to his right and push the number seven’s long-range drive round the post for a corner.
Further substitutions followed with Vics bringing on Liam Campbell for Lawson and West End introducing Gary Irons for Cox, before Kevin Durno was booked for dissent.
Vics were looking more like getting a goal than West End at this point and Cowan was inches away from getting his head to a Warren corner as the ball flashed across the six-yard line.
Seconds later, Warren managed to get the ball into the box for Watson, who turned to make space for a shot, but he dragged it across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
Liam Campbell then fired in a drive from distance, which had Vics claiming for a penalty as it struck Black, but the referee waved away all claims for handball.
With five minutes left, West End made a third change when Jonathan McBride came on for Ramsay.
Still it was Vics who were probing for a goal that would settle the outcome and a surging run from Craig Sturrock took him over the half-way line before playing it on for Warren to slip into the box for Watson but his shot was blocked away for a throw-in.
Watson again came close when McLeish whipped a free kick into the box and he got above the defence to send a header inches wide.
Just when it looked as if the match would end in a draw, Vics grabbed the lead in the 89th minute. Cowan slipped a pass down the right, which GARRY WARREN latched on to and the substitute cut into the box and kept his composure to drill a shot under the body of the diving ‘keeper.
West End weren’t prepared to accept defeat and it required two breathtaking saves from Hutcheson in stoppage time to ensure Vics won the points. The first came from a Grant shot, which the ‘keeper somehow clawed off the line in one handed fashion when a goal looked certain, with the ball eventually being scrambled behind for a corner. From the flag kick, Scott got in a header, which the custodian again somehow dived full-length to prevent from crossing the line, before Vics thumped it away allowing the referee to end the match.
In an entertaining 90 minutes, West End showed why they had been undefeated in the league in the first 25 minutes, but once Vics got back on level terms they got stronger the longer the game went on and managed to battle right to the end to grab a late winner.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, McLeish, Sturrock, Cowan, Durno, Florence, Mowatt, Fotheringham, Watson, Simpson (Warren 62), Lawson (Campbell 68). Unused substitutes: Johnston, Laing and Duncan, g/k.
Forfar West End: Johnstone, Kelly, Donaldson, Garrick, Black, Black, Ramsay (McBride 85), Taylor, Scott, Tinley (Grant 62), Cox (Irons 70). Unused substitutes: Hart and Brown.
Referee: Mr. M. Ritchie (Arbroath).
Vics are again at home tomorrow (Saturday) when they play host to East Craigie in the league. The Dundee side currently lead the table on goal difference by one goal and beat Vics 4-3 in the opening league fixture. Indeed, so tight is the league that Vics lie only three points off the top along with another five teams all on 12 points, so a win could see Vics go joint top. Kick-off is at 2pm.
Winners this week were: £70 – No 143 Ray Phillip; £30 – No 55 Terry Milne; £15 – No 50 Jim Mowatt; £15 – No 123 Dave Mann; £10 – No 40 Kevin Laing; £5 – No 6 Caroline Lawson.
East North League
P W D L F A Pts
East Craigie 6 5 0 1 17 7 15
Dundee North End 6 5 0 1 16 7 15
Montrose Roselea 7 4 0 3 22 8 12
Kirrie Thistle 5 4 0 1 18 5 12
Forfar West End* 7 6 0 1 15 8 12
Arbroath Vics 7 4 0 3 21 17 12
Downfield 8 4 0 4 16 17 12
Blairgowrie 7 4 0 3 13 15 12
Forfar Albion 7 2 0 5 13 20 6
Lochee Harp 7 2 0 5 10 17 6
Brechin Vics 7 1 0 6 16 21 3
Coupar Angus 8 0 0 8 5 40 0
*Forfar WE deducted 6 points for playing unregistered players