Annan FC vs Elgin City
Annan Athletic followed up their Boxing Day victory at Montrose with a nail bighting win over Elgin City at Galabank to earn Annan their first back to back league victories of the season. The game turned dramatically in Annan’s favour in the 76th minute after Elgin had Keeper Raymond Jellema sent off for pulling down Matty Flynn with Scott Davidson converting the ensuing penalty to cancel out Elgin City’s 63rd minute opener from Shane Sutherland.
It was a defining moment in the match which had dire consequences for Elgin when minutes later substitute goalkeeper Stuart Black hesitated to control a pass back and Kenny MacKay took full advantage to dispossess the young keeper and score the dramatic late winner which keeps Annan’s playoff hopes firmly on track as the season reaches the half way stage.
Manager Jim Chapman with a mountain of injuries had little option but to place his faith on the same starting eleven who lifted the points 48 hours earlier at Montrose. Annan started brightly and for the opening 20 minutes the home side carved out some promising openings without managing to test Raymond Jellema. Scott Davidson had a good effort blocked in the 18th minute and from the rebound Josh Todd’s effort failed to hit the target. Moments later Craig Gunn tested Kenny Arthur with a stunning low shot which had the Annan keeper at full stretch and from the resulting corner Shane Sutherland’s header went narrowly past. At the other end Josh Todd’s curling effort from the edge of the box went close. Scott Davidson’s snap shot from a Martin McNiff throw in flashed past the upright in the 31st minute and with half time approaching Kenny Arthur was once again called into action to deal with a Craig Gunn effort.
The second half had barely got under way when Matty Flynn almost snatched the opening goal with a lob from an acute angle with dropped on to the top of the cross bar. Kenny MacKay’s effort minutes later was scrambled clear as Annan pressed for the opener. Martin McNiff made a hash of a pass back but the visitors failed to make the most of situation presented to them. Paul Harkins 58th minute shot tested Kenny Arthur with the Annan keeper’s diving save turning the shot round the post for a corner. The game was opening up and in the 60th minute Kenny MacKay slipped the ball into the path of the unmarked Ally Love whose crisp low shot was cleared off the goal line. Shane Sutherland a constant menace all afternoon silenced the home crowd in the 63rd minute when David Niven’s cross to the back post was perfectly placed for Sutherland to head home from 6 yards to give Elgin the upper hand. Craig Gunn tried his luck minutes later when his shot from the edge of the box went wide of the target. Elgin were very much on the ascendancy at this stage with Sutherland testing Arthur again in the 71st minute. Minutes later it took an important interception by Swinglehurst to deny Gunn. There appeared to be little or no danger when the ball was played back to keeper Jellema in the 76th minute but Matty Flynn intercepted the ball and was about to round the keeper when he was brought down. The referee made straight for his red card and immediately manager Ross Jack had to rearrange his line up by bringing off striker Dennis Wyness and introducing substitute keeper Stewart Black who’s first task was to pick Scott Davidson’s spot kick from the back of the net. The young Elgin keeper then had the misfortune to misscontrol a pass back on the edge of the box and the hesitation allowed Kenny MacKay the opportunity to dispossess the keeper and slide the ball into the empty net in the 84th minute.
Annan boss Jim Chapman praised the players, “They have shown real character, they go right to the end and their never say die attitude is a credit to the club. Two goals in injury time on Thursday then they come back today after they gave themselves a mountain to climb by conceding a cheap goal to snatch victory from Elgin. Sometimes it takes more than ability to win football matches and one thing we have in this squad is the attitude, spirit and the character to never give up. This is just the start, a great way to end 2013 on a high but the hard work begins again in 2014. The players have been rewarded with 6 fantastic league points over the festive period for their commitment. We are down to the bare bones with a spate of injuries but he lads who have come in have taken up the mantel”.
Elgin boss Ross Jack highlighted the decision to send off his keeper Ray Jellema as the turning point in the game. “We looked comfortable containing any threat posed by Annan, a penalty yes but a sending off is very harsh. We must get over the disappointment of losing today’s match and get ready for Peterhead next week, it does not get any easier in this league”.
Annan Athletic – K Arthur, S Sloan, M McNiff, P Watson, S Swinglehurst, M Flynn, S Davidson (P Bradley 87 min), K Brannan, K McKay, J Todd, A Love (J Moffat 71 min). Substitutes not used J Brown, D Graham, J Moffat, A Mitchell, G Anderson, and Z Caldwell.
Elgin City – R Jellema, D Niven, P McMullen, S Crighton , J Duff, M Nicholson, C Gunn, P Harkins (A Mackenzie 87 min), D Wyness (S Black 76 min), S Sutherland, S Urquart. Substitutes not used R McKinnon, G Beveridge, and D Khutsisvili
Referee Alan Newlands. Assistants G Drummond and D Dunne