Peterhead travelled to Edinburgh on Saturday to face Spartans in a crucial clash as The Blue Toon fought to remain at the top of League 2. Entering the match with a 1 goal hold to the top spot, 3 points at Ainslie Park would be vital.
STARTING XI: McKenzie, Goldie, Ross, Jas. Brown (C), Wilson, D. Strachan, McKee, Jack Brown, O’Keefe, Shanks, McAllister.
It was Danny Strachan to get things underway in Edinburgh as Peterhead aimed to return to winning ways. With Ryan Strachan and Jordon Brown both returning to the touchline, David Wilson occupied the right side of defence whilst Danny Strachan was welcomed back into a central midfield position.
It was McKenzie in the Peterhead goal who enjoyed early success after denying a low driven shot from Dishington, and blocking an effort from Spartans forward Armstrong. Joe McKee then looked to give Peterhead the advantage early on through yet again another set piece; however his free kick effort from 25 yards out ricocheted off the crossbar. Midfielder Jack Brown was the first player of the match to enter the referee’s book after hauling down the opposition was deemed worthy of a yellow card; however the cross from wide of the penalty area posed no threat. With 27 minutes played, the breakthrough came from the head of Scott Ross after he rose highest to meet another inch-perfect McKee delivery from the corner flag. Peterhead’s lead over the hosts almost doubled after a high ball over the top of the Spartans defence found Conor O’Keefe. Noticing the onrushing Carswell from the Spartans goal, O’Keefe lofted the ball over the head of the goalkeeper and looked to be heading goal-wards only to see his attempt cleared off the line by Spartans defender Mikey Allan. With half-time approaching and the Spartans defence pinned back, Peterhead were unable to double their lead before the interval. The first half concluded with a booking for Spartans midfielder Cameron Russell after in an attempt to burst forward, looked to have been brought down by The Blue Toon defence but was booked for simulation.
HT: Spartans 0 – 1 Peterhead.
It was the hosts’ turn to kick off at Ainslie Park and Peterhead looked to continue the match in similar style. After looking to be in control, it was Danny Strachan who picked up the ball in the centre of the opposition half and from range, his shot on goal flew over the crossbar. With 10 minutes played in the 2nd half, Peterhead made their first change as Caleb Goldie was forced off due to injury and was replaced by Jordan Armstrong. Armstrong was quickly called into action after a wide Spartans free kick idelivered into the Peterhead penalty area was dealt with by the defender. Moments later, a free kick from similar territory on the opposite side found the back of the net as Cameron Russell’s shot flew past McKenzie. As Peterhead searched for a response to lead the fixture again, Shanks’ low driven cross into the box was fumbled by Carswell and McAllister was unfortunate to be challenged by the Spartans defence and was cleared away.
A 2nd Peterhead substitution welcomed Hamish Ritchie back from injury as he replaced Jack Brown in the middle of the park. From scoring goals to stopping them, an electric run down the wing from Russell followed by a low cross was dealt with by Scott Ross who slid in to intercept; dealing with the trouble effectively. Entering the final 15 minutes of regular time, it seemed neither side would settle for a draw as both teams enjoyed equal possession but minimal chances. A final Peterhead double change introduced Ward and Reid who made way for O’Keefe and McAllister. With only 4 minutes left to play, Hamish Ritchie searched to find space and combined with Aaron Reid in the process. With Ward pulling the Spartans defender wide to create a pocket of space, Ritchie drove in with the ball and slotted it past Carswell to give The Blue Toon the advantage once again. With the game looking to be dead and burried, an injury time attack from Spartans found an attacking head in the Peterhead box however it fired marginally high of the crossbar. Some final action from The Blue Toon consisted of a Robert Ward counter attack which subsequently met the head of onrushing Aaron Reid however his effort was off target.
FT: Spartans 1 – 2 Peterhead.
Another tough test on their travels for The Blue Toon ended triumphant at Ainslie Park after goals from Scott Ross and Hamish Ritchie helped secure a crucial victory. A busy week of fixtures is topped off with 3 very important points to keep Peterhead joint top of League 2 on points. Although grabbing an all important win, Stenhousemuir currently occupy top spot on goal difference after putting 3 past Stranraer on Saturday afternoon. Taking a break from league action, Peterhead return to Balmoor next Saturday to face Ayr United in the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup.