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Stirling Albion 2 – 2 Arbroath – Match Report
Match day 13 – Ladbrokes League 2 – Season 2016 / 2017
Saturday 19th November 2016, Forthbank Stadium, Stirling, 3.00pm kick off
The Lichties travelled down to Stirling on Saturday to face Dave Mackay’s Stirling Albion. It was the first time the former St Johnstone stalwart had taken charge in the Forthbank dugout, but he would be full of confidence after his managerial career started with a win a week earlier away to Elgin City.
The Forthbank staff had done well to make sure the game went ahead after the winter weather had gripped Scotland. The snow was visible on the hills either side of the A9 on the journey down and with no sign of the frost lifting it was testament to the grounds staff as the pitch looked in prime condition.
Arbroath made only one change to the side that demolished Clyde at Gayfield with Steven Doris returning to the starting line up to face his old team with Bryan Prunty dropping to the bench. Arbroath in a 4-4-2 formation with Gomes (GK),Gold (RB), Little (CB), Hamilton (CB), Sukar (LB), Kader (RM), Whatley (CM), McCord (CM), Linn (LM), Doris (ST) and Scott (ST)
Josh Skelly and Josh Thomson missed out after picking up knocks so the Lichties named Prunty, Callaghan, Malin, Phillips, Dunlop and Mutch on their bench.
Stirling Albion took to the pitch in their home strip of red with white flashes as Arbroath were in their change strip of dark blue and yellow. The Binos kicked off on a freezing cold afternoon attacking the North End of the ground towards the Wallace monument.
In the opening minutes the home side tried to test the wings going forward, but the Arbroath defence showed their early resilience. In the 10th minute Stirling’s Darren Petrie was given acres of space to run towards the Arbroath goal with Ricky Little forced into a sliding challenge but paid the price as Referee David Munro was quick to produce a yellow card.
It was Little who played a cross field ball to Linn who showed great skill to beat trialist Robertson to get a cross into the box, before getting the better of Marc McKenzie at the corner flag as he tried again to cross after his first was headed clear.
Both sides had struggled to seriously test either keeper but both kept on trying to attack down the wings. Former Annan Athletic man Willie Robertson was locked in a battle with Jassem Sukar but in the 24th minute Robertson did get free and was able to cross but Sean Dickson’s header was high over the bar.
Robertson again ran forward with the ball for the Binos and there was a slice of fortune as he found Eddie Ferns who lost control but as Ryan McCord slid in behind the ball bounced off his leg and into the path of striker Blair Henderson but despite having time and space to shoot smashed his drive high over the Arbroath goal.
Jassem Sukar found himself in possession after an Arbroath throw in and he played a forward ball to the feet of Doris at the edge of the Stirling Albion box who took a clever touch to find Omar Kader, who had switched wings with Bobby Linn.
Kader took a few touches before curling a right footed ball into the box which was met in the air by Doris who somehow got his heel to the ball in front of his marker turning it into the far corner of Chris Smith’s goal. The former Bino revelled in celebrating as he opened the scoring in the 40th minute.
Arbroath almost went into the break with a two goal lead after a neatly worked move. A long kick up field by Gomes was headed clear by Ross McMillan as far as Whatley who found Kader who passed to Doris. The goalscorer then rolled the ball back to Sukar who hit a precise 40 yard pass to McCord who had run into the Stirling box. McCord showed great skill bringing the ball down before turning and passing to Kader who struck the ball on the volley with keeper Smith just getting the faintest of touches for an Arbroath corner.
Half Time – Stirling Albion 0 – 1 Arbroath
Dave Mackay brought on Ross Kavanagh for Bryan Hodge as both sides run out for the second half.
As Arbroath kept up the pressure they had shown since taking the lead, they were denied another goal by Stirling Captain Ross McMillan who made the perfect tackle to deny Steven Doris just as he was about to pull the trigger from 12 yards as a loose ball fell to him.
The game’s turning point came in the 52nd minute as Ricky Little was sent off. A long goal kick by keeper Chris Smith was flicked on by Blair Henderson and as Ross Kavanagh turned towards goal Ricky Little pulled him down with Referee David Munro flashing the second yellow card before pulling out the red card. Ironically Little was sent off almost a year to the day in the same fixture at Forthbank.
Arbroath reshuffled their line up as Captain Mark Whatley moved to left back with Jassem Sukar switching to centre back and Martin Scott dropping back into midfield leaving Doris up front on his own for the final 38 minutes.
It looked like the onslaught was about to begin when Sean Dickson struck a shot from the edge of the 18 yard box but Gomes was down low and saved comfortably but the sending off actually inspired Arbroath as they started to play their best football.
Steven Doris under pressure fired a brilliant ball down towards the corner flag for Linn to chase and as Linn beat Petrie to the ball he hit a first time cross which was met on the volley by McCord but his shot was directly at keeper Smith in a wonderful piece of play by the Lichties.
It was Doris who then tried his luck from 35 yards out from a free kick after being fouled Robertson. Despite the distance, the striker full of confidence was just on the wrong side of Smith’s post.
The game was opening up and Petrie ran forward with the ball before curling a teasing ball into the Arbroath box which was met by Ferns but his header was poor as the ball bounced down into the ground before Gomes grabbed it.
Ryan McCord set another move in motion as he found Linn who was running through the middle before continuing on towards goal chased by 3 defenders before forcing Smith into a low save after a right footed shot.
Linn and McCord combined beautifully once more but this time it was Kader who benefited as McCord showed great vision to find the winger in yards of space. As Kader advanced towards the Stirling goal he played a slide pass to his left but it was in fact a Stirling defender who had filled the space and not one of his wing backs.
Kader was quick to redeem himself as he doubled Arbroath’s lead in the 68th minute. A Stirling cross was cleared by Scott who found McCord. As McCord ran forward he twice shimmed his way out of the advances of two Stirling players before getting a high ball over to Kader who chased the ball towards the corner flag.
With a burst of pace he soon left McKenzie behind as he ran in from the wing before hitting a low shot as McMillan closed down on him beating Smith at his near post to send the Arbroath fans and players into a frenzy.
Stirling Albion were quick to make their second substitution with Ross McGeachie replacing Eddie Ferns in the 69th minute.
Sean Dickson tried a long range shot from the edge of the box in the 72nd minute but his dipping volley was high over Gomes’s goal just hitting the roof of the net as it came down.
Again Arbroath went forward this time Steven Doris running onto a high over the top ball but he was able to beat the defender to the ball forcing Smith to pull out another good save in the 75th minute.
The home side were finding space but despite the openings they weren’t really troubling Gomes as he made a comfortable save from a McKenzie header then a Dickson drive.
Perhaps frustrated with his team mates ability to finish defender Scott Davidson came running forward with the ball before unleashing a rising thunderbolt from 45 yards and this time Gomes was forced to work but he pulled off a fantastic save as he leapt across his goal before pulling the ball out of the air.
Scott Davidson was to be denied again, twice by Gomes in quick succession as the keeper showed off his skills. A Petrie corner was flicked on by McMillan to Davidson who smashed a right footed volley at the back post but Gomes palmed the ball away only back to Davidson who smashed in another volley and again Gomes was down and pushed the ball out for a corner. Fantastic strikes by Davidson but even more impressive saves from the Canadian.
Gomes again pulled off another save this time from close range as a cross was allowed to sweep towards the back post where McKenzie rifled towards goal but again Gomes was there to save the shot before Colin Hamilton cleared.
As the game entered the 90th minute, Arbroath made a double substitution with Bobby Linn and Omar Kader being replaced by Gavin Malin and Liam Callaghan. It looked like the Lichties were going to hold on for a remarkable win.
However into the 91st minute and Petrie was allowed far too much room as he ran down the wing before curling a ball into the box. As the ball bounced around the edge of the box it finally fell to Sean Dickson who struck a low shot which flew just inside of the near post beating Gomes.
Arbroath made their final change with Gary Phillips replacing Ryan McCord. As the Lichties restarted the match they hit the ball down into space by the corner flag, but Stirling were able to pick up and launch a final attack deep into injury time.
A throw in from the stand side was headed to the edge of the box and in a similar position to his earlier effort Sean Dickson struck the ball on the volley as it dropped and hit a screamer under the bar leaving Gomes with no chance.
It was an unbelievable strike which will probably be a contender for the goal of the season come May. The Stirling players oddly decided to run towards the Arbroath fans mocking them which seen Dickson receive a yellow card for his troubles.
As Arbroath kicked off there was one final chance for a break forward as Phillips ran forward to chase a Doris knock down. As Phillips chased the ball he tangled with McMillan but managed to stay on his feet and his penalty appeals went unanswered.
Full Time – Stirling Albion 2 – 2 Arbroath
A hard one to take. It was a point a piece in the end, but it somehow felt like a defeat. It was a world class goal that secured the point but Ricky Gomes and his team mates had shown great energy and skill to be 2 goals ahead against 11 men. However it could be a valuable point come May and it means the Lichties remain unbeaten in the league since early September.
C’mon the Lichties!
Possession – Stirling Albion 39% – 61% Arbroath Total Shots – Stirling Albion 22 – 8 Arbroath On Target – Stirling Albion 11 – 6 Arbroath Off Target – Stirling Albion 11 – 2 Arbroath Blocked – Stirling Albion 0 – 0 Arbroath Corners – Stirling Albion 5 – 4 Arbroath Fouls Committed – Stirling Albion 7 – 5 Arbroath
1 – Chris Smith 3 – Darren Petrie 4 – Bryan Hodge (Kavanagh 46) 6 – Ross McMillan (c) 7 – Marc McKenzie 9 – Blair Henderson 10 – Angus Beith 11 – Eddie Ferns (McGeachie 69) 14 – Willie Robertson (T) 15 – Scott Davidson 16 – Sean Dickson
2 – Ross McGeachie – 11; 69th 5 – Ross Smith 13 – Jamie Mills 18 – Callum Morrison 19 – Ross Kavanagh – 4; 46th 20 – Alex Docherty 17 – Cammy Binnie (GK)
Yellow Card – Dickson 90+4
Goals – Dickson 90+1, 90+2
1 – Ricky Gomes 2 – David Gold 3 – Jassem Sukar 4 – Ricky Little 5 – Colin Hamilton 6 – Mark Whatley (c) 7 – Omar Kader (Callaghan 90) 8 – Ryan McCord (Phillips 90+2) 9 – Steven Doris 10 – Martin Scott 11 – Bobby Linn (Malin 90)
12 – Bryan Prunty 14 – Liam Callaghan – 7; 90th 15 – Gavin Malin – 11; 90th 16 – Gary Phillips – 8 ; 90th + 2 17 – Michael Dunlop 21 – Robbie Mutch (GK)
Yellow Cards – Little 10, Gold 82
Red Card – Little 52
Goals – Doris 40, Kader 68
Attendance – 605
Referee – David Munro Assistant Referee 1 – Ralph Gordon Assistant Referee 2 – Ross Birrel