2 - 2
2 - 2
Scottish League (Play Off Semi Final First Leg)
Simon Murray (43)
Simon Murray (64)
Bryan Wharton (18)
Shaun Fraser (36)
Craig Johnstone for Jordan Lowdon (45)
Scott McBride for Dylan Carreiro (45)
Kevin Buchan for Simon Murray (86)
|Ross McPherson for Shaun Fraser (66)|
Kevin Nicoll (29)
||Shaun Fraser (47)|
Kieran McWalter (23)
Craig Charleston (Referee)
For the rollercoaster ride of a season which has had many highs and lows it was all to come together tonight for the first leg of the semi-final in the League One play-offs. Over in Methil the other fixture was taking place between East Fife and Stenhousemuir.
Todd Lumsden had kept faith with the same team that demolished Berwick Rangers on Saturday.
McCallum in goal, Whatley, Gordon, Little and Lowdon at the back with Linn, Nicoll, McWalter, Stewart and Carreiro with Murray up front. The bench had been reinforced with Scott McBride and Craig Johnstone who sat alongside Buchan, Smith, Grant, Lindsay and Wilson.
Arbroath kicked off the match shooting towards the Harbour end with the setting sun providing natural light on the dry May evening. As expected the first few exchanges were cagey with Arbroath winning their first corner in the 4th minute. Arbroath were looking towards Simon Murray and Bobby Linn for inspiration and it didn’t take long before they were both running at the Queen’s defence with the ball at their feet. Queen’s Park who are always well organised when in possession were sending long balls up the field towards John Carter or Shaun Rooney to chase on to. Arbroath’s first real effort was a Ricky Little header from a corner kick which just sailed over William Muir’s bar.
It was Queen’s Park however who struck first. Bryan Wharton has impressed all season when he has come up against Arbroath and he rose above the Arbroath defenders to head home a Sean Burns corner in the 17th minute. Queen’s Park were deploying their players to run at different angles but Todd Lumsden will no doubt be disappointed that the three Arbroath players left around Wharton couldn’t challenge him. Queen’s Park had the upper hand at this point and Arbroath were struggling to get the ball out of their own half.
It was only to get worse for the Lichties as they tried to break Kieran McWalter slid in to win the ball from Sean Burns but as Burns went down heavily the Arbroath players faces were a real picture of shock when referee Craig Charleston pulled out his red card and pointed to the tunnel to young McWalter. The Queen’s Park players antics may have persuaded the red card, but the home support let their feelings be heard when Burns leapt to his feet before McWalter even made it to the tunnel. It was Arbroath’s first red card since 14th March 2014 when Ricky Little was sent off against Airdrieonians.
It was looking bleak for the Lichties as Queen’s Park kept on sending the long balls up field trying to run in behind the Arbroath defenders. Arbroath captain Kevin Nicoll picked up a yellow card for a foul on Vincent Berry in the 28th minute, before a flashing header from Bobby Linn just missed Muir’s goal. Arbroath came unstuck in the 35th minute when one of those long balls was played in to the Arbroath box from the wing where Shaun Fraser met it at the back post to tap home from a few feet out. With only 35 minutes on the clock were the dreams of promotion already turning into a bad nightmare?
No. Good work from Bobby Linn after an Arbroath throw –in allowed him to curl in a bouncing cross in the Queen’s Park box. As Simon Murray waited, Anthony Quinn get close guard but Murray was quicker to react and he made a near post run in front of Quinn to loop the ball over Muir and Quinn to give everyone in the ground a massive lift as his goal caught Queen’s Park cold.
Half time – Arbroath 1 – 2 Queen’s Park
As the teams came back out for the second half Arbroath had made a double change. Scott McBride replaced Jordan Lowdon at left back, with Craig Johnstone coming on for Dylan Carreiro on the left wing. This combination worked wonders in the second half as it allowed both players to interchange and cover one another’s position if they pushed forward.
The second half had only just begun when Shaun Fraser was shown a yellow card for a foul on Craig Johnstone. Already within minutes of the second half there seem to a different feel to the game and Arbroath only had to look to their hero Bobby Linn for all the motivation they needed when he came so close to pulling Arbroath level in the 47th minute when he cut in from the right win and curled in a shot but Muir got down in time to save his team. Linn again threatened less than 60 seconds later but this time his shot was wide.
Suddenly Arbroath were find all sorts of space down the right hand wing with Linn and Murray both using their pace to advance forward and pull the Queen’s Park defenders out of position, and it was working! The accolades the Linn had won over the weekend were just rewards in the eyes of any Arbroath supporter who has watched his skills and tireless running for the last two seasons and again Linn tore through the Queen’s park defence, this time finding Keiran Stewart who in turn found Murray who was able to turn and fire low on goal, but Muir save his shot only for the rebound to Linn who on the edge of the 18 yard box smashed the rebound right back at Muir but was so unlucky to find the crossbar with a thunderous shot.
At this point it was hard to believe that Arbroath were only playing with 10 men. When Queen’s Park did go up the wing they were faced with Mark Whatley on the left who was backed up and helped by Nicoll and then on the right they were coming up against McBride and Johnstone with Little and Gordon taking a no nonsense approaching and putting the ball out of play or adopting the Queen’s Park tactics of finding Murray up the pitch with Stewart running up and down the pitch to trying to support any attack but also help defend with McCallum rushing out to aid his defenders. The 10 men were really being disciplined in their play and somehow finding the energy to sustain the pressure they were now putting Queen’s Park under.
A Queen’s Park corner kick was turned into a quick counter attack by the brilliant Linn. He picked up the ball in his own box before advancing and zipping past several opposition players before sending a pass which cut through the retreating defenders which found Simon Murray who galloped at goal on the angle, and as Quinn and Wharton cut him down his shot sailed under their boots towards Muir hitting his outstretched leg before bouncing over him into the net! Gayfield erupted!!
Bobby Linn was untouchable and Simon Murray was back to his electrifying best.
Queen’s Park were of course still in the game, but it seemed that Arbroath had nullified their only way forward which was stopping their long balls. Even when they tried to play it slowly from the back Arbroath didn’t let them, and their passing ended up creating more mistakes. Again Linn ran with the ball, this time straight through two defenders before his right foot let rip towards Muir who was equal to it but conceded the corner. From the resulting corner Arbroath had a penalty claim as Liam Gordon seemed to be pulled down as the ball arrived in the box but his claims were waved away. As the game drew to an end Arbroath brought on Kevin Buchan for Simon Murray who went off to huge applause from all corners of the ground. The remaining minutes passed by and the full time whistle blew.
Full time – Arbroath 2 – 2 Queen’s Park
Match report written by Arbroath FC Official Website
|Marc McCallum (GK)||22||28||-||28||-|
|Craig Johnstone (sub)||30||26||-||26||-|
|Scott McBride (sub)||25||35||4||49||6|
|Kevin Buchan (sub)||20||37||4||37||4|
No league table has been added for this season.