Peterhead hosted The Spartans at Balmoor yesterday in The Blue Toon’s 18th match of League 2.
Pre-match only 3 points separated the two teams; with Peterhead having the chance to pull away from the pack and extend their advantage on 2nd place, or Spartans to leapfrog The Blue Toon.
Starting XI: McKenzie, D. Strachan, R. Strachan, Jas. Brown (C), Ross, McKee, McCarthy, Jack Brown, Ritchie, Ward, Shanks.
A cold one at Balmoor was warmly welcomed as the sun and not a breath of wind made for perfect playing conditions; a rarity in Peterhead. Recovered from illness, Joe McKee returned to the Peterhead starting lineup as well as Robert Ward who got the opportunity over Rory McAllister who served his suspension due to an accumulation of bookings.
It was visitors who got the match underway in Peterhead as The Spartans aimed to climb the League 2 standings. It wasn’t long before the referee had to produce the cards; as Spartans midfielder Ayrton Sonkur was shown yellow after two minutes for a rash challenge on Robert Ward who was brought down to prevent a Peterhead counter attack. The first real opportunity of the match came from The Spartans who after a run down the right hand side found Russell unmarked at the back post; however he dragged his shot wide of goal. The Blue Toon managed to conjure up a chance of their own out of nowhere as a Scott Ross cross found Shanks on the edge of the Spartans penalty area however his ambitious overhead kick effort was wide and didn’t trouble Blair Carswell in the visitors’ goal. Midway through the first half with only a chance apiece, Jason Brown levelled things again to make it a booking apiece after leaving his foot in on Russell as he tried to win the ball back in the attacking 3rd of the pitch. With Peterhead pushing to find an opener, Hamish Ritchie sendt Jack Brown on his way with a perfectly weighted through ball. As Jack Brown latched on the end of Ritchie’s pass and crossed into Andy McCarthy, Carswell got down low to deal with the midfielder’s effort. After a first half of minimal chances for either side and only brief spells of possession shared; the interval approached with both teams failing to break the deadlock.
HT: Peterhead 0 – 0 Spartans.
Jack Brown kicked off the 2nd half at Balmoor and The Blue Toon immediately looked more lively than they did before the break. Spartans made their first substitution of the game at half time as Cameron Russell was replaced by Bradley Whyte. With the 2nd half beginning to replicate a similar style to the first half, Peterhead’s best chance of the game fell to Shanks inside the Spartans box. After Ward’s cross was met by the head of Shanks, Carswell pulled off a brilliant save to direct Shanks’ header away from the top right corner and out for a corner. After a series of corners from The Blue Toon, Peterhead were unable to capitalise on any as the scoreline remained goalless. In an attempt to break the deadlock, Spartans made their 2nd substitution of the afternoon as Jordan Tapping was replaced by Danny Denholm after 65 minutes. With 78 minutes played, the visitors took the lead as midfielder James Craigen drove through the middle of the pitch and played a pass through the defence to forward Blair Henderson. One fake shot from Henderson was enough to throw Ryan Strachan off balance as The Spartans forward passed the ball into the near post from close range. As Peterhead kicked off once again, Jack Brown was the latest player to enter the referee’s book as he brought down the goalscorer to stop a Spartans counter attack. A Peterhead double change in an attempt to bring the scoreline level again saw one Brown replace another as Jack made way for Jordon and Scott Ross was replaced by Caleb Goldie. With only five minutes of regular time to play, a long ball forward by Jason Brown was flicked on to Shanks by the head of Jordon Brown, however Shanks’ header was wide of the Spartans goal. A final double change by the visitors welcomed Sean Brown and Paul Watson to the pitch in place of goalscorer Blair Henderson and Rhys Armstrong. As Peterhead searched for an equaliser in the dying minutes to salvage a point, The Spartans kept their defence tight to keep a clean sheet.
FT: Peterhead 0 – 1 Spartans.
MOTM: Robert Ward
Match Attendance: 727
Peterhead drop to 3rd place in League 2 as The Spartans move into 2nd; level on points and goal difference however have a game in hand. With now 3 successive defeats, all eyes turn to Tuesday evening where a quick turnaround will welcome Dumbarton to Balmoor as The Blue Toon search to end their run of poor form.