Peterhead hosted league leaders Stenhousemuir to Balmoor on Saturday as The Blue Toon aimed to close the gap on the Falkirk side. Going into the match with sixteen points separating the two sides, Peterhead were faced with the task of putting a stop to Stenhousemuir’s record breaking twelve wins on the bounce in League 2.
Starting XI: McKenzie, D. Strachan, Ross (C), R. Strachan, Duffy, McCarthy, Jack Brown, O’Keefe, Ritchie, Pawlett, Shanks.
It was the visitors who kicked off the blustery Balmoor clash as they looked to extend their lead at the top of the table with a thirteenth consecutive victory. With Stenhousemuir in excellent form, they had the first chance of goal early on as Kyle Jacobs header was deflected off target by Scott Ross; and from the resulting corner, Gregor Buchanan couldn’t direct his effort goal-wards. As The Blue Toon played into the wind in the first half, the wind made for tricky playing conditions however Peterhead were able to create chances of their own. Shanks and O’Keefe linked up well inside the Stwnhousemuir box and it was Kieran who took the shot, however he couldn’t beat Jamieson in the visiting goal. As Peterhead knocked on the Stenhousemuir door, Jack Brown played a through ball to Conor O’Keefe who cut back to Danny Strachan in the box; however his shot crept wide of the far post. With 27 minutes gone, Danny Strachan was the first player of the afternoon to enter the referee’s book for a foul on Stenhousemuir striker Yates. With Danny looking sharp and causing problems for the league leaders, the defender played a cross to the back post with his weak foot which was met by the oncoming Hamish Ritchie who’s header flew past Jamieson in the Stenhousemuir goal. As Peterhead took the advantage, the scoreline was soon level as the Falkirk side replied with a header of their own through Gregor Buchanan from a corner. Stenhousemuir captain and goalscorer Buchanan was the first visiting player to receive a yellow for hauling down Shanks as he looked to be through on goal. After a busy afternoon at the attacking end of the pitch, Danny Strachan concluded the first half with two crucial blocks to keep the scoreline square. The two sides entered half time with a goal and a booking apiece; all square at the break.
HT: Peterhead 1 – 1 Stenhousemuir.
Peterhead were eager to restart after the interval and as the hosts resumed the match, The Blue Toon were evidently not willing to share the points. Immediately looking to gain the advantage once again, Pawlett’s through ball found O’Keefe however Jamieson denied; Shanks attempted to finish the job on the rebound but was beaten by the tight angle. With Peterhead’s strike force of Shanks and Pawlett combining well, the former crossed to the latter who attempted a miraculous overhead kick but his audacious attempt was deflected and collected by Jamieson. With 64 minutes played, Peterhead made their first substitution of the afternoon as Rory McAllister came on in place of Conor O’Keefe, closely followed by a Stenhousemuir double swap as Berry and Rodden replaced Yates and O’Reilly. With fifteen minutes of regular time to play, The Blue Toon finally got their breakthrough as McCarthy found Ritchie in space who then slotted home a first time finish into the bottom left corner. With tensions soaring, Shanks was booked for a late challenge on Buchanan, followed by Meechan for the retaliation towards Shanks after his rash challenge on the Stenhousemuir defender. With Peterhead pushing for a third goal to finish the game, Robert Ward, Jordon Brown and Alfie Stewart were all introduced in the latter stages of the match as Peter Pawlett, Hamish Ritchie and Kieran Shanks left the pitch. The visitors responded with their own substitutes as they searched for an equaliser as Jacobs and Brown made way for Kirkpatrick and Stirling. In the dying minutes the desperate visitors struggled to keep the ball as their fairytale form came to an end, with McCarthy and Lynch both receiving yellow cards to conclude their trip to Balmoor.
FT: Peterhead 2 – 1 Stenhousemuir.
MOTM: Hamish Ritchie.
Following their fairytale run of form, the league leaders from Falkirk are beaten at Balmoor. With Hamish Ritchie at the double, the gap between first and second place now shortens to thirteen points.