Annan Athletic FC v Arbroath FC
Any chances Annan had of winning this match evaporated after only ninety seconds when centre half Steven Swinglehurst was sent off for a crunching tackle on man of the match Ryan McCord and to add salt to the wound the Arbroath player dusted himself down and dispatched the 18 yard free kick into the corner of the net.
It was a bitter pill for Annan to swallow and a big decision for referee to make and the fact that Annan remained in contention until half time was testament to their commitment to the game. It was however a big turning point in the match which forced Annan to switching the influential Skelton from midfield into the centre of defence and it leaves manager Jim Chapman with a gap to fill in the 2 matches that Swinglehurst will automatically miss as a result of the decsion.
Following the opening goal Whatley and Prunty had reasonable efforts before Annan squared the match in the 15th minute. It was a well worked goal with Flanagan finishing a penetrating run with a shot which was parried by keeper Rickie Gommes straight into the path of Peter Weatherson who slotted the ball into the net from 6 yards.
MaxWright’s effort in the 19th minute went close but past the post from a Weatherson lay off. Annan had Gavin Skelton to thank in the 21st minute when he cleared off the goal line after Linn and Kader had close range efforts blocked.
It was Annan who went ahead in the 24th minute from a set piece when Jordan Stewart headed Nathan Flanagans near post corner into the top of the net. Arbroath gradually turned the screw on Annan and Ross McCord had a good chance to square the game in the 32nd minute when he shot straight at keeper Blair Currie form 15 yards. Arbroath squared the game in the game in the 40th minute when Dorris headed home McCord’s corner kick.
The second half was very much a back to the wall performance from Annan as they desperately tried to contain the fluent Arbroath attack. Annan had a let off in the 46th minute when Linn’s shot which looked to be going in was touched on by Prunty who was in an offside position.
The visitors took the lead in the 60th minute and it was route one football which caught Annan out when Gold’s high cross into the centre of the Annan defence was headed into the net by Stephen Dorris who was in acres of space.
Arbroath never took their foot off the pedal and in the 74th minute they were rewarded when Bobby Linn laid the ball on a plate with a low pin point cross straight into the path of Bryan Prunty who had the simple task of side footing the ball past Currie from 4 yards. Currie then pulled off a point blank save to deny Kader. At the other end Max Wright squandered a glorious opportunity when he blasted over the bar with the entire goal at his mercy.
With time running out Rickie Gommes pulled off a superb save to tip Jordan Stewarts net-bound shot over the bar as Annan tried to reduce the lea-way. The final goal in the game arrived in injury time when Stephen Dorris headed McCord’s cross into the net to complete a good day for the red lichties. A result which keeps them hard on the heels of Forfar Athletic and in with a super task of lifting the title.
Annan will no doubt reflect on an opportunity lost to keep the pressure on the top two, they are however still in with a very good chance of making the play offs.
Forfar Athletic retained their position at the top of the league with a convincing 3-0 victory over the in form Stirling Albion at Forthbank. Montrose maintained their push for a play off position with a 3-0 home victory over Edinburgh City. Elgin City moved a point closer to Annan after recording a 2-2 draw at home to Berwick Rangers. Clyde lost the crucial basement battle at Cowdenbeath when they went down 1-0.
ANNAN ATHLETIC : Blair Currie, Jean Guy Lucas (Callum Home 76 min), Jordan Stewart, , Raffii Krissian, Steven Swinglehurst, Gavin Skelton, Max Wright, Darren Ramsay (Smart Osadolor 76 min), Peter Weatherson, Aiden Smith, Nathan Flanagan (Tom Fry 65 min). Substitute’s not used Alex Mitchell, David McKenna, Barry Cuddihy, Stephen Bronsky.
ARBROATH :Rickie Gommes, , David Gould, Bryan Hodge (Jassem Suka 78 min), Ricky Little, Colin Hamilton, Mark Whatley, Omar Kader, Ryan McCord, Steven Doris, , Bryan Prunty ( Donald McCallum 80 min), Bobby Linn (Eddie Ferns 78 min) . Subs not used Robert Douglas GK, Matty Smyth, Kane Hestor, Martin Scott
REFEREE : Craig Charleston
Assistants Gary Hilland and Ross Anderson